Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity

4.4 375
by C. S. Lewis
     
 

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The most popular of C. S. Lewis' works of nonfiction, Mere Christianity has sold several million copies worldwide. It brings together Lewis' legendary broadcast talks of the war years, talks in which he set out simply to "explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times." Rejecting the boundaries that divide

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Overview

The most popular of C. S. Lewis' works of nonfiction, Mere Christianity has sold several million copies worldwide. It brings together Lewis' legendary broadcast talks of the war years, talks in which he set out simply to "explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times." Rejecting the boundaries that divide Christianity's many denominations, Lewis finds a common ground on which all Christians can stand together, and provides an unequaled opportunity for believers and nonbelievers alike to hear a powerful, rational case for their faith. It is a collection of scintillating brilliance that remains strikingly fresh and confirms C. S. Lewis' reputation as one of the leading writers and thinkers of our age.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com Review
The Barnes & Noble Review
Is there a universal morality? Does human nature, like the laws of nature, exist in accordance with inalterable rules? Is there a benevolent God? Are men and women, by nature, good? These questions may well have reached a pinnacle of urgency during World War II, when they took on profound and personal significance for those witnessing the chaos and inhumanity ravaging Europe. C. S. Lewis, one of the most influential Christian writers of his time and author of the beloved Chronicles of Narnia series, explored these questions and more in his legendary wartime BBC radio broadcasts, which were then edited and released in print as The Case for Christianity, Christian Behavior, and Beyond Personality and later collected under the title Mere Christianity. Listeners can once again experience these talks -- by far Lewis's most popular body of nonfiction -- in the medium for which they were first created, through this compelling new audiobook read by Geoffrey Howard.

At once a moving and rational case for Christianity and a refreshing exploration of the ideas that are the foundation of all faiths, Mere Christianity takes a sympathetic look at humanity, the differences that cause rifts between Christians, and the doubts haunting people of all religions. By asserting that all forms of Christianity, which throughout history has splintered into denominations erecting barriers between adherents, have at their heart some "belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times," Lewis returns to the very foundation of Christianity, creating a nonpolitical forum in which all Christians can find agreement and unity. "We are on the wrong road," says Lewis gently to his audience, "and if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on."

His arguments are not exclusively for Christians, however. He probes the essence of all religions, exploring what he believes to be universal truths about human nature and the essential paradoxes that exist within it. He asserts that people everywhere share the belief that they ought to act in a certain way, yet by nature they do not act that way. He addresses the questions surrounding ideas of morality in the face of different beliefs, asserting that there is only one acceptable -- and universal -- morality for all people. He takes on the dualities of good and evil, stating, "Evil is a parasite, not an original thing. All the things that enable a bad man to be bad are good things." Most important, as a former atheist, he succeeds in playing his own devil's advocate to present a rational argument for the existence of God.

Though the thinking behind these talks is very powerful, C. S. Lewis succeeds in making his discussion highly informal, his arguments grounded and conversational. Geoffrey Howard's warm and powerful voice captures the tone of the writing beautifully, conveying an intimate blend of friendliness and conviction, making Mere Christianity as entertaining, enlightening, and necessary at the dawn of a new millennium as it was in the middle of the last century. So, sit by the fire, settle down by your speaker, and listen. (Elise Vogel)

Elise Vogel is a freelance writer living in New York City.

New Yorker
If wit, and wisdom, style and scholarship are requisites to passage through the pearly gates, Mr. Lewis will be among the angels.
Chad Walsh
Apparently this oxford don and Cambridge professor is going to be around for a long time; he calls himself a dinosaur but he seems to speak to people where they are. —The Washington Post Book World
Los Angeles Times
Lewis, perhaps more than any other twentieth-century writer, forced those who listened to him and read his works to come to terms with their own philosophical presuppositions.
Times Literary Supplement
He has a unique power for making theology an attractive, exciting, and fascinating quest.
Harper's
The point about reading C. S. Lewis is that he makes you sure, whatever you believe, that religion accepted or rejected means something extremely serious, demanding the entire energy of mind.
PA) Sunday Patriot News (Harrisburg
This is an incredibly lucid and unprejudiced work... Read slowly and carfully by Geoffrey howard, the audio version is an easy way to follow Lewis' reasoning.
John Updike
I read Lewis for comfort and pleasure many years ago, and a glance into the books revives my old admiration.
Anthony Burgess
C. S. Lewis is 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.
New York Times Book Review
Sunday Patriot News Harrisburg
This is an incredibly lucid and unprejudiced work... Read slowly and carfully by Geoffrey howard, the audio version is an easy way to follow Lewis' reasoning.
Library Journal
The late Lewis, Oxford professor, scholar, author, and Christian apologist, presents the listener with a case for orthodox Christianity. This is definitely not the shouting, stomping, sweating, spitting televangelist fare so often parodied; Lewis employs logical arguments that are eloquently expressed. He describes those doctrines that the four major denominations in Britain (Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic) would have in common, e.g., original sin, the transcendent Creator God, and the divinity of Jesus as well as his atonement and bodily resurrection. Geoffrey Howard reads both works, and his performance is superb; he is clear and unhurried, giving just the right emphasis and/or inflection. The volume on the Blackstone edition is recorded at a higher level than HarperAudio's. Otherwise there were no perceived differences in the recordings. If your institution can afford it, the Blackstone production would be preferred because of its sturdy case and the announcement of side changes. Whether or not one agrees with Lewis's arguments, it is a pleasure to hear such a skillful reading of an eloquent work. Public libraries as well as institutions that teach religion/theology or speech should consider. Michael T. Fein, Central Virginia Community Coll., Lynchburg Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Books & Culture
“As we witness Lewis develop we find that these volumes are working as a kind of unconscious autobiography.”
Christianity Today
“C. S. Lewis understood, like few in the past century, just how deeply faith is both imaginative and rational.”
Wall Street Journal
“It is not surprising that Lewis’s time-proven views are still flourishing while most other mid-20th-century works are nearly neglected.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780849960482
Publisher:
Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date:
09/23/1991
Edition description:
2 Cassettes
Pages:
2
Product dimensions:
4.47(w) x 7.20(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

Mere Christianity

Chapter One

The Law of Human Nature

Every one has heard people quarrelling. Sometimes it sounds funny and sometimes it sounds merely unpleasant; but however it sounds, I believe we can learn something very important from listening to the kind of things they say. They say things like this: 'How'd you like it if anyone did the same to you?' — 'That's my seat, I was there first' — 'Leave him alone, he isn't doing you any harm' — 'Why should you shove in first?' — 'Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine' — 'Come on, you promised.' People say things like that every day, educated people as well as uneducated, and children as well as grown-ups.

Now what interests me about all these remarks is that the man who makes them is not merely saying that the other man's behaviour does not happen to please him. He is appealing to some kind of standard of behaviour which he expects the other man to know about. And the other man very seldom replies: 'To hell with your standard.' Nearly always he tries to make out that what he has been doing does not really go against the standard, or that if it does there is some special excuse. He pretends there is some special reason in this particular case why the person who took the seat first should not keep it, or that things were quite different when he was given the bit of orange, or that something has turned up which lets him off keeping his promise. It looks, in fact, very much as if both parties had in mind some kind of Law or Rule of fair play or decent behaviour or morality or whatever you like to call it, about which they really agreed. And theyhave. If they had not, they might, of course, fight like animals, but they could not quarrel in the human sense of the word. Quarrelling means trying to show that the other man is in the wrong. And there would be no sense in trying to do that unless you and he had some sort of agreement as to what Right and Wrong are; just as there would be no sense in saying that a footballer had committed a foul unless there was some agreement about the rules of football.

Now this Law or Rule about Right and Wrong used to be called the Law of Nature. Nowadays, when we talk of the 'laws of nature' we usually mean things like gravitation, or heredity, or the laws of chemistry. But when the older thinkers called the Law of Right and Wrong 'the Law of Nature', they really meant the Law of Human Nature. The idea was that, just as all bodies are governed by the law of gravitation, and organisms by biological laws, so the creature called man also had his law — with this great difference, that a body could not choose whether it obeyed the law of gravitation or not, but a man could choose either to obey the Law of Human Nature or to disobey it.

We may put this in another way. Each man is at every moment subjected to several different sets of law but there is only one of these which he is free to disobey. As a body, he is subjected to gravitation and cannot disobey it; if you leave him unsupported in mid-air, he has no more choice about falling than a stone has. As an organism, he is subjected to various biological laws which he cannot disobey any more than an animal can. That is, he cannot disobey those laws which he shares with other things; but the law which is peculiar to his human nature, the law he does not share with animals or vegetables or inorganic things, is the one he can disobey if he chooses.

This law was called the Law of Nature because people thought that every one knew it by nature and did not need to be taught it. They did not mean, of course, that you might not find an odd individual here and there who did not know it, just as you find a few people who are colour-blind or have no ear for a tune. But taking the race as a whole, they thought that the human idea of decent behaviour was obvious to every one. And I believe they were right. If they were not, then all the things we said about the war were nonsense. What was the sense in saying the enemy were in the wrong unless Right is a real thing which the Nazis at bottom knew as well as we did and ought to have practised? If they had had no notion of what we mean by right, then, though we might still have had to fight them, we could no more have blamed them for that than for the colour of their hair.

I know that some people say the idea of a Law of Nature or decent behaviour known to all men is unsound, because different civilisations and different ages have had quite different moralities.

But this is not true. There have been differences between their moralities, but these have never amounted to anything like a total difference. If anyone will take the trouble to compare the moral teaching of, say, the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks and Romans, what will really strike him will be how very like they are to each other and to our own. Some of the evidence for this I have put together in the appendix of another book called The Abolition of Man; but for our present purpose I need only ask the reader to think what a totally different morality would mean. Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five. Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to — whether it was only your own family, or your fellow countrymen, or every one. But they have always agreed that you ought not to put yourself first. Selfishness has never been admired. Men have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four. But they have always agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked...

Mere Christianity. Copyright (c) by C. Lewis . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954, when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and have been transformed into three major motion pictures.

Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) fue uno de los intelectuales más importantes del siglo veinte y podría decirse que fue el escritor cristiano más influyente de su tiempo. Fue profesor particular de literatura inglesa y miembro de la junta de gobierno en la Universidad Oxford hasta 1954, cuando fue nombrado profesor de literatura medieval y renacentista en la Universidad Cambridge, cargo que desempeñó hasta que se jubiló. Sus contribuciones a la crítica literaria, literatura infantil, literatura fantástica y teología popular le trajeron fama y aclamación a nivel internacional. C. S. Lewis escribió más de treinta libros, lo cual le permitió alcanzar una enorme audiencia, y sus obras aún atraen a miles de nuevos lectores cada año. Sus más distinguidas y populares obras incluyen Las Crónicas de Narnia, Los Cuatro Amores, Cartas del Diablo a Su Sobrino y Mero Cristianismo.

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Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
November 29, 1898
Date of Death:
November 22, 1963
Place of Birth:
Belfast, Nothern Ireland
Place of Death:
Headington, England
Education:
Oxford University 1917-1923; Elected fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford in 1925
Website:
http://www.cslewisclassics.com

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