Mere Christianity

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Mere Christianity[2] is a theological book by C. S. Lewis, adapted from a series of BBC radio talks made between 1941 and 1944, while Lewis was at Oxford during World War II. Considered a classic of Christian apologetics, the transcripts of the broadcasts originally appeared in print as three separate pamphlets: The Case for Christianity (1942), Christian Behaviour (1942), and Beyond Personality (1944).[3] Lewis was invited to give the talks by Rev. James Welch, the BBC Director of Religious Broadcasting, who had read his 1940 book, The Problem of Pain.[4]



Lewis, an Anglican, intended to describe the Christian common ground. In Mere Christianity, he aims at avoiding controversies to explain fundamental teachings of Christianity, for the sake of those basically educated as well as the intellectuals of his generation, for whom the jargon of formal Christian theology did not retain its original meaning.

The Case for Christianity

Lewis spends most of his defense of the Christian faith on an argument from morality, a point which persuaded him from atheism to Christianity. He bases his case on a moral law, a "rule about right and wrong" commonly known to all human beings, citing the example of Nazism; even atheists believed that Hitler's actions were morally wrong. On a more mundane level, it is generally accepted that stealing is violating the moral law. Lewis argues that the moral law is like the laws of nature in that it was not contrived by humans. However, it is unlike natural laws in that it can be broken or ignored, and it is known intuitively, rather than through observation. After introducing the moral law, Lewis argues that thirst reflects the fact that people naturally need water, and there is no other substance which satisfies that need. Lewis points out that earthly experience does not satisfy the human craving for "joy" and that only God could fit the bill; humans cannot know to yearn for something if it does not exist.

After providing reasons for his conversion to theism, Lewis goes over rival conceptions of God to Christianity. Pantheism, he argues, is incoherent, and atheism too simple. Eventually he arrives to Jesus Christ, and invokes a well-known argument now known as the "Lewis trilemma". Lewis, arguing that Jesus was claiming to be God, uses logic to advance three possibilities: either he really was God, was deliberately lying, or was not God but thought himself to be (which would make him delusional and likely insane). The book goes on to say that the latter two possibilities are not consistent with Jesus' character and it was most likely that he was being truthful.

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