Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis Signature Classics)

Mere Christianity Discussion notes:

  • Atheism is too simple
  • Another view that is too simple, “Christianity-and-water”
    • Says “there is a good God in heaven and everything is alright”
    • Leaves out all of the “difficult and terrible doctrines about sin and hell and the devil, and the redemption.”
  • “Both these are boys’ philosophies.
  • No point in asking for “a simple religion.” Real things are not simple. Real things have the appearance of simplicity, but nothing is truly simple.
    • “this table.”
    • “A child saying a child’s prayer looks simple. And if you are content to stop there, well and good. But if you are not – and the modern would usually is not – if you want to go on and ask what is really happening – then you must be prepared for something difficult. If we ask for something more than simplicity, it is silly then to complain that the something more is not simple.”
    • This “silly procedure” is very often used by people who are not silly, but who want to destroy Christianity.
    • These people will set up a child’s version of Christianity and attack it. (straw man.)
    • When you try to explain adult Christian doctrine, they complain that you are “making their heads turn round and that it is all too complicated and that if there really were a God they are sure He would have made ‘religion’ simple, because simplicity is beautiful, etc.”
    • Beware of these people, “for they will change their ground every minute and only waste your time.”
    • Their idea of ‘making religion simple’ is “as if ‘religion’ were something God invented, and not His statement to us of certain quite unalterable facts about His nature.”
  • Reality is also usually odd. “It is not neat, not obvious, not what you expect.” Christianity is like that. “[Christianity] is a religion you should not have guessed.”
  • The problem:
    • The universe is full of things that are obviously bad, and apparently meaningless
    • The universe contains creatures (ourselves) “who know that it is bad and meaningless.”
  • Two views:
    • Dualism: Two powers/spirits/gods. One “good,” one “bad/evil.” ….
      • “If Dualism is true, then the bad Power must be a being who likes badness for its own sake. But in reality we have no experience of anyone liking badness just because it is bad.”
      • “Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness. And there must be something good first before it can be spoiled.”
    • Christianity is very near Dualism at this point — “Christianity thinks this Dark power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong.”

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. I know someone will ask me, ‘Do you really mean, at this time of day, to re-introduce our old friend the devil – hoofs and horns and all?’ Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know. And I am not particular about hoofs and horns. But in other respects my answer is “Yes, I do.” I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance. If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person, ‘Don’t worry. If you really want to. you will. Whether you’ll like it when you do is another question.

Lewis concludes that both atheism and Christian Liberalism (Lewis calls it “Christianity-and-water”) aren’t sufficient.

  1. What specifically is Lewis’s objection to Christian Liberalism?
  2. According to Lewis, there are only two religious systems which directly confront the problem of evil and a good God, Dualism and Christianity. What does Dualism teach and what is its fatal flaw?
  3. What is Christianity’s solution to the problem of evil and a good God?
  4. In what ways have you experienced this world as a place of spiritual warfare?

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