Mere Christianity (Book Review and a Giveaway!)

I have a lot of “askers” in my friendship circles especially those who are still trying to figure out “this whole Christianity thing” and because I more of an “answerer”, I tend to go away and try to find those answers for them and myself too. I can’t say exactly when I developed an interest in C. S. Lewis but I know it was one that developed passively through following a twitter account that reels out several quotes by him as well as a subscription to a mailing list that is essentially a sort of C. S. Lewis devotional with extracts from his various books.

As the new year approached, I decided to re-ignite my reading interest especially as there is still so much for me to learn about my faith. “Mere Christianity” was first on my to-read list and quite frankly, my mind has been blown. Anthony Burgess describes C. S. Lewis as “the ideal persuader for the half convinced, for the good man who would like to be a Christian but finds his intellect getting in the way” and I couldn’t agree more. Personally, I describe this book as spiritually intellectual because it breaks down the whole basis of Christianity and our relation with God into the simplest terms that our limited minds can comprehend a bit better. Now make no mistake, God is a sovereign God and there are so many things we will never truly understand but for me, Mere Christianity is one book that answers a lot of my questions and more, up until that point whereby I believe only God Himself can provide the rest of the answers. The author, formerly an atheist, uses a blend of theological and practical examples to support major aspects of spirituality and faith in the context of Christianity especially those areas that our intellectualism completely.

To give some insight into this awesome book, I’ve pulled some (trust me, this is only a fraction!) of the quotes (in italics) that really resonated with me and I have put them in contexts (in bold) that make sense to me:

One of many reasons to go to church:Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going. He does it by playing on our conceit and laziness and intellectual snobbery.”

 

On getting to know God: “When you come to knowing God, the initiative lies on His side. If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him. And, in fact, He shows much more of Himself to some people than to others—not because He has favourites, but because it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong condition. Just as sunlight, though it has no favourites, cannot be reflected in a dusty mirror as clearly as in a clean one.

You can put this another way by saying that while in other sciences the instruments you use are things external to yourself (things like microscopes and telescopes), the instrument through which you see God is your whole self. And if a man’s self is not kept clean and bright, his glimpse of God will be blurred—like the Moon seen through a dirty telescope. That is why horrible nations have horrible religions: they have been looking at God through a dirty lens.”

 

On charity: “Some people nowadays say that charity ought to be unnecessary and that instead of giving to the poor we ought to be producing a society in which there were no poor to give to. They may be quite right in saying that we ought to produce this kind of society. But if anyone thinks that, as a consequence, you can stop giving in the meantime, then he has parted company with all Christian morality. I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charities expenditure excludes them.”

 

On God’s love for us: “On the whole, God’s love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him. Nobody can always have devout feelings: and even if we could, feelings are not what God principally cares about. Christian Love, either towards God or towards man, is an affair of the will. If we are trying to do His will we are obeying the commandment, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.’ He will give us feelings of love if He pleases. We cannot create them for ourselves, and we must not demand them as a right. But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.”

 

What about those who don’t get to hear about Christ?: “Here is another thing that used to puzzle me. Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him. But in the meantime, if you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is to remain outside yourself. Christians are Christ’s body, the organism through which He works. Every addition to that body enables Him to do more. If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who alone can help them. Cutting off a man’s fingers would be an odd way of getting him to do more work.”

 

On having Christ as an example: “I have heard some people complain that if Jesus was God as well as man, then His sufferings and death lose all value in their eyes, ‘because it must have been so easy for Him’. Others may (very rightly) rebuke the ingratitude and ungraciousness of this objection; what staggers me is the misunderstanding it betrays. In one sense, of course, those who make it are right. They have even understated their own case. The perfect submission, the perfect suffering, the perfect death were not only easier to Jesus because He was God, but were possible only because He was God. But surely that is a very odd reason for not accepting them? The teacher is able to form the letters for the child because the teacher is grown-up and knows how to write. That, of course, makes it easier for the teacher; and only because it is easier for him can he help the child. If it rejected him because ‘it’s easy for grown-ups’ and waited to learn writing from another child who could not write itself (and so had no ‘unfair’ advantage), it would not get on very quickly. If I am drowning in a rapid river, a man who still has one foot on the bank may give me a hand which saves my life. Ought I to shout back (between my gasps) ‘No, it’s not fair! You have an advantage! You’re keeping one foot on the bank’? That advantage—call it ‘unfair’ if you like—is the only reason why he can be of any use to me. To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?”

 

On free will: “Christians, then, believe that an evil power has made himself for the present the Prince of this World. And, of course, that raises problems. Is this state of affairs in accordance with God’s will, or not? if it is, He is a strange God, you will say: and if it is not, how can anything happen contrary to the will of a being with absolute power?

But anyone who has been in authority knows how a thing can be in accordance with your will one way and not in another. It may be quite sensible for a mother to say to the children, ‘I’m not going to go and make you tidy the school room every night. You’ve got to learn to keep it tidy on your own.’ Then she goes up one night and finds the Teddy bear and the ink and the French Grammar all lying in the grate. That is against her will. She would prefer the children to be tidy. But on the other hand, it is her will which has left the children free to be untidy. The same thing arises in any regiment, or trade union, or school. You make a thing voluntary and then half the people do not do it. That is not what you willed, but your will has made it possible.”

 

Okay! Imma stop now before I write the whole book for you but hopefully you’ve gotten some insight into how amazing I think this book is. Now, on to the fun part!!

 

The Giveaway!

Because I’m so enthusiastic about you guys reading this book, The Steph Way is having it’s *drumroll please* FIRST EVER GIVEWAY!!! 😀

Apparently you’re not a real blog unless you do giveaways, so I’m claiming back “real blog status”.

I’m going to keep it as simple as I can – I’m not the simplest person so apologies in advance :p – but I’m giving three people a chance to win a copy of Mere Christianity and all you have to do is answer the following questions AND perform the required action as follows:

  • Share this post by clicking on any of the sharing icons at the bottom of the post or via a  photo of this post on instagram using the hash tags #thestephway and #mcgiveaway
  • Subscribe to The Steph Way by providing your name and email address in the form below
  • Entries close on Saturday 31st January 2015 at 6pm. Three (yes three 😀 ) lucky winners will be selected transparently and fairly using a random name generator and will be announced on Sunday 1st February 2015 at 10pm.
  • Unfortunately, it’s only open to those resident in the UK 🙁

 

“The mind of the prudent is ever getting knowledge, and the ear of the wise is ever seeking (inquiring for and craving) knowledge.” Reading the right books is definitely one way to get knowledge so I’m looking forward to your entries.

I can’t wait to bless the lucky threesome whoever you are 🙂 . Good luck!

’cause it’s The Steph Way,

xoxo

 

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