C.S. Lewis' Book, Mere Christianity

C.S. Lewis' Book, Mere Christianity

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C.S. Lewis' Book, “Mere Christianity”


C.S. Lewis begins his book, “Mere Christianity”, by introducing the Law of Right and Wrong or the Laws of Nature. This, however, arises a question. What is the Law of Nature? The Law of Nature is the known difference between right and wrong. That is, mans distinction between what is right and what is wrong. “This law was called the Law of Nature because people thought that everyone knew it and did not need to be taught it”(18). Lewis relates the law to how we treat others. We treat others the way we want to be treated and if they treat us poorly in return we become agitated and annoyed with them. He states that we become a society of excuses when something goes wrong. He goes on to say that we want to behave in a certain way when in reality we do the opposite of what is right or what is wrong. We are humans and humans have primal instincts. We are all capable of using our instincts to do right or wrong. Lewis uses an example of a drowning man to prove this point. When one sees a man in trouble two desires or instincts kick into play, to save the man or ignore him because the situation at hand could endanger you. However, there in another impulse that says help the man. With this comes a conflict of instincts. Do you run and forget about it or do you jump in and help. Most people will help even if the situation is going to endanger their life. This is just one way of seeing moral law. The right in a situation will mostly always prevail over the wrong. “Men ought to be unselfish, ought to be fair. Not that men are selfish, nor that they like being unselfish, but they ought to be”(30). We are creatures of habit and logic. Lewis believes that the moral law is not taught to us rather known by us instinctively. He also believes that the law is real. The law is our behaviors in life via good or bad. Lewis states, “there is something above and beyond the ordinary facts of men’s behavior”(30). This opens Lewis to believe that the natural law is both alive and active in mans life today. Lewis goes on to say that the law must be something above mans behavior. He begins to relate this to the creation of the world.

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He takes into count the materialistic theory of creation, that is that matter has always existed and creation of man happened out of nowhere. The other view is the religious view. This view states, “what is behind the universe is more like a mind then it is anything else we know”(32). Man wants to know who or what created the universe and if there is a force directing it let alone them. Lewis wants humanity to reconsider because he feels that man is on the wrong road. He tries to prove this theory by looking at the present condition our world is in today. He feels that people believe in God but only as the Supreme Being behind the law. Lewis believes that God is good and like all good God can be hard and even dangerous. He believes that only a person can forgive and their good can be reacted to in many different ways. We ultimately can interpret the outcome as good or bad. Good to our benefit and bad to no ones prevail. Lewis also believes that Christianity will not make sense to anyone until they realize that the Moral Law is real and the power that governs it is also real. To make Christianity make sense we must stop abusing the power and breaking the law. Lewis starts off Book II by discussing his ideas on God and the major divisions of belief in God. He believes that God is beyond all good and evil and that He is righteous and all mighty. To say that God is beyond all that is good and evil is called Pantheism. Pantheists believe that God is the universe and if the universe didn’t exist neither would God. This differs from the Christian view that God created the universe. He then starts to dwindle on the just and unjust in the world today. He blames his view on the fact that he used to be an atheist and that his whole reality was senseless. There are many people who reject the Christian doctrine simple due to the fact that it is not easy to understand. Lewis believes that if there really were a God the religion of that God would be easy to follow because “simplicity is beautiful”(48). This topic discussed by Lewis leads to the conversation on Dualism. “Dualism is the belief that there are two equal and independent powers at the back of everything, one of them is good and the other bad, and that the universe is a battlefield in which they fight out an endless battle”(48-49). Lewis, however, rejects the idea of dualism due to the fact that our God is a Supreme Being and He is very intelligent and this makes him good. He believes that evil is a parasite and that it a false attitude of good. He uses an analogy that a good man does good to do well and a bad man does not do bad to be bad. This is why Lewis does not agree with Dualism. When we were created God gave us free will. This free will could be used to do anything, both good and evil. Lewis believes that with free will comes the ability to do wrong. He also believes that free will leads to evil but it also lead to love and joy that is worth having. Lewis goes on to discuss Satan and the sin he taught the human race. “The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first-wanting to be in the center-wanting to be God”(53-54). God, however, gave us three ways to fight Satan’s sin. He gave us a conscience, the ability to dream good dreams, and He taught the Jews that He was the one true God of the universe. He goes on to say that Jesus was not a great moral teacher because he felt that the people viewed him as a lunatic and not as the Son of God. Christians believe that Jesus came to this world to suffer and die for their sins and wrong doings. They also believe that through His death they are back in the proper view of God, in other words, Jesus’ death was a fresh start for Christians. This leads Lewis to start talking about repentance. Lewis believes that repentance is the unlearning of all that has been taught to us, a sort of death in order to repair ourselves in God’s eyes. He feels that humans are only capable of a perfect repentance if they get God to help. God helps us by showing how to think and teaching us how to love in His eyes. This leads Christians to ask the question about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Lewis feels the whole situation to be silly due to the fact that he feels that Jesus was God. Lewis states that according to the Christian belief, by sharing in the humility and suffering of Jesus we will share in his triumph over death and his finding of God’s kingdom in Heaven. Through this belief we as Christians will have fulfilled all God wants us to fulfill and be able to live happily ever after in Heaven. Lewis states that being a Christian is more then just mental belief. We must involve physical activities like mass and the Eucharist. He also believes that doing well does not appease God rather it brings the Christian closer to God and to his eternal promise to man. Lewis begins Book III by discussing the three parts of morality that comes with Christian behavior. “ Morality raises in a good many people’s minds: something that interferes, something that stops you from having a good time”(69). Morality is the fair play and harmony between individuals. This can be broken, however, when humans separate from each other and when there is something internally wrong with an individual. Morality can be concerned with three things or reasons. “Firstly, with fair play and harmony between individuals”(71). Secondly, with the harmonizing of one’s inner self and thirdly with what man is made for, human life. Morality can be said to be the general purpose for human life as a whole. Lewis goes on to discuss the “Cardinal Virtues.” “Cardinal Virtues” are the virtue admired by civilized people. “They are PRUDENCE, TEMPERANCE, JUSTICE, and FORTITUDE”(74). Prudence is common sense. Lewis says that children are excellent examples of prudence because they are sensible. “Temperance referred not specially to drink, but to all pleasures; and it meant not abstaining, but going to the right length and no further”(76). Justice means “fairness” and is more of a law virtue. Finally, fortitude, which means courage in the sense of both personal and spiritual strength. Social morality is a discussion of morality between man and man. Lewis believes that Christ did not preach anything in new regards to morality. The real job of a moral teacher is to bring us back to old principles we do not care for. Lewis introduces the phrase “The church ought to give us a lead”(80). When he says church he means the whole body of Christians. This means that he wants see these Christians to govern the others who are farther behind in their faith. This leads him to begin talking about charity and who should give and how much they should give. He believes that we should give more then we can spare. He seems to express that we are a society of cheap and greedy people. I feel that in the eyes of God all we give does not add up to all he returns. Lewis believes that when a man makes a moral decision there are two things involved. They are choosing and various feelings or acts that show his psychological abilities. This then would lead to a normal feeling or a feeling that turns to fear and strikes the man down. This links in to social morality and the man’s perception to do right or wrong. This may also lead into sexual morality or chastity. Christian chastity is different then social modesty because social modesty tells what on the body can be displayed. In regards to sex there is nothing to be ashamed of unless it is taken in excess and is done out of self-pleasure not in love. Christianity agrees with this statement because Christianity approves of the body. This is where marriage comes to play a role in mans behavior. The sexual impulse in man works best under marriage. Man and wife unite on the alter to form “one flesh.” According to Lewis, living together outside of marriage causes one to unchaste and commits perjury against the law. The passion of love compels two people to unite and create life of their own. Lewis also believes that the man is the head and should deal with his families’ policy because he is strong and wise. Forgiveness in Lewis’ eye is the love of a mans enemy. One of mans most terrible duties is the forgiveness of his enemy. Two things we can do to make loving our enemies easier are to forgive and to learn how to love our self. Loving yourself does not mean that you have to punish yourself; it means you have to have courage in the face evil. The love of our self can lead to us committing the great sin. Lewis describes the great sin as one in which no man in the world is free, which every one in the world loathe when he sees it in another, and which no Christian will admit to; Pride. The virtue opposite to Pride is Humility. Lewis suggests that in order to find how proud you are you ask yourself this question. “How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice to me, or shove their oar in, or patronize me, or show off”(110)? There are four misunderstandings Lewis discusses about pride. They are: pleasure in being praised, being “proud of,” pride in wrong doings, and being humble. To gain humility one must realize that they are proud. Lewis goes on to talk about the “Theological” virtues of FAITH, HOPE, and CHARITY. He describes charity as giving “alms” or giving to the poor. Lewis believes that that when you love someone and you injure it you will not love it no more, but if you show love your love will grow stronger. Lewis gives advice to those for a person with no love for God. He tells them to try and love Him as if you really did love Him. Act in love and you will be loved. Our feeling come and go, but God’s are eternal and forever. Lewis mentions some accomplishments of men who left their mark of earth because of their hope occupied in Heaven. Most people look at heaven as a place to meet old friends. It however, is a place to be with God and a place to live in peace with us. Although we experience great things in life something still evades us. Lewis believes there are two wrong ways to deal with this. They are: the fool’s way; putting the blame on things themselves, and the way of the disillusioned “sensible man”. The right way is the Christian way. We do not have desires unless a need arises to fulfill that desire. This leads into faith. Faith is the art of holding onto things reason has once accepted. No man knows how hard he tries to be good. Lewis believes this is a silly idea because good people know what temptation is. It is only when we resist temptation that we know how strong it really is. Man strong in faith is not always in perfect coexistence with God. As we grow in faith we begin to obey Christ more passionately. This is related to the obedience of the truths that Christians obtain. Lewis begins Book IV with a discussion about life and how it relates to God. Theology is the science of God. Lewis uses an analogy of a map to describe theology. In order to have a map man must have experience of the area. Theology is the same due to the fact that the experience is God. Lewis then goes on to describe the difference between begetting and creation. To create is to make and to beget is to father. This theory then leads into “Bios” and “Zoe.” “Bios” is life without spirit; life in nature. “Zoe” is spiritual life. Together they form one complete life; a life in God. Lewis then moves to a discussion of the divine personality, the three personal God. Most people believe in a personal God, a mysterious something behind a mysterious force. Lewis describes God’s personality as being on a divine level. Theology is practical and the one instrument for learning about God is the whole Christian community. This leads us to believe that God is in three parts: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. “God is love.” In Lewis’ view this statement is not true unless there are a Father and a Son because love is for another person. “Love is God” on the other hand describes God’s creation of us and all that we do. The Trinity is in fact God both as Supreme Being, son made flesh, and as a spirit. This in Lewis’s view is what all of Christianity is about. Lewis goes on to use a toy soldier analogy to describe how Christians are transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Our natural life is life self-centered in us. Lewis views the analogy of the tin soldier very solemnly yet very seriously on the other hand. He states that if we were to become Christ we may not like it. This will lead us to resent him and most likely steer us from him. We are human and God is God. This is the way it is supposed to be. We need to gain our spiritual life by ourselves and with the help of God’s humanity. Lewis believes that this is how we will gain spiritual life. Lewis now raises the question about Christianity being hard or easy. Lewis believes “that the more you obey your conscience the more you conscience will demand of you”(169). This will lead to anger and then you will either give up totally or live for others needs and not the needs of yourself. Lewis says that the Christian way is both harder and easier then giving into your conscience. Lewis goes on to ask if we as Christians should be nicer then non-Christians. We as men are all the same. It is all on how man lives his life. Lewis ends the book with the question; If a nice world would be easier to save than a miserable one? A nice world would be in as much need from God as a miserable world, its all how man lives his life. C.S. Lewis begins his book, “Mere Christianity”, by introducing the Law of Right and Wrong or the Laws of Nature. This, however, arises a question. What is the Law of Nature? The Law of Nature is the known difference between right and wrong. That is, mans distinction between what is right and what is wrong. “This law was called the Law of Nature because people thought that everyone knew it and did not need to be taught it”(18). Lewis relates the law to how we treat others. We treat others the way we want to be treated and if they treat us poorly in return we become agitated and annoyed with them. He states that we become a society of excuses when something goes wrong. He goes on to say that we want to behave in a certain way when in reality we do the opposite of what is right or what is wrong. We are humans and humans have primal instincts. We are all capable of using our instincts to do right or wrong. Lewis uses an example of a drowning man to prove this point. When one sees a man in trouble two desires or instincts kick into play, to save the man or ignore him because the situation at hand could endanger you. However, there in another impulse that says help the man. With this comes a conflict of instincts. Do you run and forget about it or do you jump in and help. Most people will help even if the situation is going to endanger their life. This is just one way of seeing moral law. The right in a situation will mostly always prevail over the wrong. “Men ought to be unselfish, ought to be fair. Not that men are selfish, nor that they like being unselfish, but they ought to be”(30). We are creatures of habit and logic. Lewis believes that the moral law is not taught to us rather known by us instinctively. He also believes that the law is real. The law is our behaviors in life via good or bad. Lewis states, “there is something above and beyond the ordinary facts of men’s behavior”(30). This opens Lewis to believe that the natural law is both alive and active in mans life today. Lewis goes on to say that the law must be something above mans behavior. He begins to relate this to the creation of the world. He takes into count the materialistic theory of creation, that is that matter has always existed and creation of man happened out of nowhere. The other view is the religious view. This view states, “what is behind the universe is more like a mind then it is anything else we know”(32). Man wants to know who or what created the universe and if there is a force directing it let alone them. Lewis wants humanity to reconsider because he feels that man is on the wrong road. He tries to prove this theory by looking at the present condition our world is in today. He feels that people believe in God but only as the Supreme Being behind the law. Lewis believes that God is good and like all good God can be hard and even dangerous. He believes that only a person can forgive and their good can be reacted to in many different ways. We ultimately can interpret the outcome as good or bad. Good to our benefit and bad to no ones prevail. Lewis also believes that Christianity will not make sense to anyone until they realize that the Moral Law is real and the power that governs it is also real. To make Christianity make sense we must stop abusing the power and breaking the law. Lewis starts off Book II by discussing his ideas on God and the major divisions of belief in God. He believes that God is beyond all good and evil and that He is righteous and all mighty. To say that God is beyond all that is good and evil is called Pantheism. Pantheists believe that God is the universe and if the universe didn’t exist neither would God. This differs from the Christian view that God created the universe. He then starts to dwindle on the just and unjust in the world today. He blames his view on the fact that he used to be an atheist and that his whole reality was senseless. There are many people who reject the Christian doctrine simple due to the fact that it is not easy to understand. Lewis believes that if there really were a God the religion of that God would be easy to follow because “simplicity is beautiful”(48). This topic discussed by Lewis leads to the conversation on Dualism. “Dualism is the belief that there are two equal and independent powers at the back of everything, one of them is good and the other bad, and that the universe is a battlefield in which they fight out an endless battle”(48-49). Lewis, however, rejects the idea of dualism due to the fact that our God is a Supreme Being and He is very intelligent and this makes him good. He believes that evil is a parasite and that it a false attitude of good. He uses an analogy that a good man does good to do well and a bad man does not do bad to be bad. This is why Lewis does not agree with Dualism. When we were created God gave us free will. This free will could be used to do anything, both good and evil. Lewis believes that with free will comes the ability to do wrong. He also believes that free will leads to evil but it also lead to love and joy that is worth having. Lewis goes on to discuss Satan and the sin he taught the human race. “The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first-wanting to be in the center-wanting to be God”(53-54). God, however, gave us three ways to fight Satan’s sin. He gave us a conscience, the ability to dream good dreams, and He taught the Jews that He was the one true God of the universe. He goes on to say that Jesus was not a great moral teacher because he felt that the people viewed him as a lunatic and not as the Son of God. Christians believe that Jesus came to this world to suffer and die for their sins and wrong doings. They also believe that through His death they are back in the proper view of God, in other words, Jesus’ death was a fresh start for Christians. This leads Lewis to start talking about repentance. Lewis believes that repentance is the unlearning of all that has been taught to us, a sort of death in order to repair ourselves in God’s eyes. He feels that humans are only capable of a perfect repentance if they get God to help. God helps us by showing how to think and teaching us how to love in His eyes. This leads Christians to ask the question about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Lewis feels the whole situation to be silly due to the fact that he feels that Jesus was God. Lewis states that according to the Christian belief, by sharing in the humility and suffering of Jesus we will share in his triumph over death and his finding of God’s kingdom in Heaven. Through this belief we as Christians will have fulfilled all God wants us to fulfill and be able to live happily ever after in Heaven. Lewis states that being a Christian is more then just mental belief. We must involve physical activities like mass and the Eucharist. He also believes that doing well does not appease God rather it brings the Christian closer to God and to his eternal promise to man. Lewis begins Book III by discussing the three parts of morality that comes with Christian behavior. “ Morality raises in a good many people’s minds: something that interferes, something that stops you from having a good time”(69). Morality is the fair play and harmony between individuals. This can be broken, however, when humans separate from each other and when there is something internally wrong with an individual. Morality can be concerned with three things or reasons. “Firstly, with fair play and harmony between individuals”(71). Secondly, with the harmonizing of one’s inner self and thirdly with what man is made for, human life. Morality can be said to be the general purpose for human life as a whole. Lewis goes on to discuss the “Cardinal Virtues.” “Cardinal Virtues” are the virtue admired by civilized people. “They are PRUDENCE, TEMPERANCE, JUSTICE, and FORTITUDE”(74). Prudence is common sense. Lewis says that children are excellent examples of prudence because they are sensible. “Temperance referred not specially to drink, but to all pleasures; and it meant not abstaining, but going to the right length and no further”(76). Justice means “fairness” and is more of a law virtue. Finally, fortitude, which means courage in the sense of both personal and spiritual strength. Social morality is a discussion of morality between man and man. Lewis believes that Christ did not preach anything in new regards to morality. The real job of a moral teacher is to bring us back to old principles we do not care for. Lewis introduces the phrase “The church ought to give us a lead”(80). When he says church he means the whole body of Christians. This means that he wants see these Christians to govern the others who are farther behind in their faith. This leads him to begin talking about charity and who should give and how much they should give. He believes that we should give more then we can spare. He seems to express that we are a society of cheap and greedy people. I feel that in the eyes of God all we give does not add up to all he returns. Lewis believes that when a man makes a moral decision there are two things involved. They are choosing and various feelings or acts that show his psychological abilities. This then would lead to a normal feeling or a feeling that turns to fear and strikes the man down. This links in to social morality and the man’s perception to do right or wrong. This may also lead into sexual morality or chastity. Christian chastity is different then social modesty because social modesty tells what on the body can be displayed. In regards to sex there is nothing to be ashamed of unless it is taken in excess and is done out of self-pleasure not in love. Christianity agrees with this statement because Christianity approves of the body. This is where marriage comes to play a role in mans behavior. The sexual impulse in man works best under marriage. Man and wife unite on the alter to form “one flesh.” According to Lewis, living together outside of marriage causes one to unchaste and commits perjury against the law. The passion of love compels two people to unite and create life of their own. Lewis also believes that the man is the head and should deal with his families’ policy because he is strong and wise. Forgiveness in Lewis’ eye is the love of a mans enemy. One of mans most terrible duties is the forgiveness of his enemy. Two things we can do to make loving our enemies easier are to forgive and to learn how to love our self. Loving yourself does not mean that you have to punish yourself; it means you have to have courage in the face evil. The love of our self can lead to us committing the great sin. Lewis describes the great sin as one in which no man in the world is free, which every one in the world loathe when he sees it in another, and which no Christian will admit to; Pride. The virtue opposite to Pride is Humility. Lewis suggests that in order to find how proud you are you ask yourself this question. “How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice to me, or shove their oar in, or patronize me, or show off”(110)? There are four misunderstandings Lewis discusses about pride. They are: pleasure in being praised, being “proud of,” pride in wrong doings, and being humble. To gain humility one must realize that they are proud. Lewis goes on to talk about the “Theological” virtues of FAITH, HOPE, and CHARITY. He describes charity as giving “alms” or giving to the poor. Lewis believes that that when you love someone and you injure it you will not love it no more, but if you show love your love will grow stronger. Lewis gives advice to those for a person with no love for God. He tells them to try and love Him as if you really did love Him. Act in love and you will be loved. Our feeling come and go, but God’s are eternal and forever. Lewis mentions some accomplishments of men who left their mark of earth because of their hope occupied in Heaven. Most people look at heaven as a place to meet old friends. It however, is a place to be with God and a place to live in peace with us. Although we experience great things in life something still evades us. Lewis believes there are two wrong ways to deal with this. They are: the fool’s way; putting the blame on things themselves, and the way of the disillusioned “sensible man”. The right way is the Christian way. We do not have desires unless a need arises to fulfill that desire. This leads into faith. Faith is the art of holding onto things reason has once accepted. No man knows how hard he tries to be good. Lewis believes this is a silly idea because good people know what temptation is. It is only when we resist temptation that we know how strong it really is. Man strong in faith is not always in perfect coexistence with God. As we grow in faith we begin to obey Christ more passionately. This is related to the obedience of the truths that Christians obtain. Lewis begins Book IV with a discussion about life and how it relates to God. Theology is the science of God. Lewis uses an analogy of a map to describe theology. In order to have a map man must have experience of the area. Theology is the same due to the fact that the experience is God. Lewis then goes on to describe the difference between begetting and creation. To create is to make and to beget is to father. This theory then leads into “Bios” and “Zoe.” “Bios” is life without spirit; life in nature. “Zoe” is spiritual life. Together they form one complete life; a life in God. Lewis then moves to a discussion of the divine personality, the three personal God. Most people believe in a personal God, a mysterious something behind a mysterious force. Lewis describes God’s personality as being on a divine level. Theology is practical and the one instrument for learning about God is the whole Christian community. This leads us to believe that God is in three parts: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. “God is love.” In Lewis’ view this statement is not true unless there are a Father and a Son because love is for another person. “Love is God” on the other hand describes God’s creation of us and all that we do. The Trinity is in fact God both as Supreme Being, son made flesh, and as a spirit. This in Lewis’s view is what all of Christianity is about. Lewis goes on to use a toy soldier analogy to describe how Christians are transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Our natural life is life self-centered in us. Lewis views the analogy of the tin soldier very solemnly yet very seriously on the other hand. He states that if we were to become Christ we may not like it. This will lead us to resent him and most likely steer us from him. We are human and God is God. This is the way it is supposed to be. We need to gain our spiritual life by ourselves and with the help of God’s humanity. Lewis believes that this is how we will gain spiritual life. Lewis now raises the question about Christianity being hard or easy. Lewis believes “that the more you obey your conscience the more you conscience will demand of you”(169). This will lead to anger and then you will either give up totally or live for others needs and not the needs of yourself. Lewis says that the Christian way is both harder and easier then giving into your conscience. Lewis goes on to ask if we as Christians should be nicer then non-Christians. We as men are all the same. It is all on how man lives his life. Lewis ends the book with the question; If a nice world would be easier to save than a miserable one? A nice world would be in as much need from God as a miserable world, its all how man lives his life. Word Count: 5810
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