David Wood liked kung fu and communism, and he hated America and Christianity, so China seemed like a logical destination. But he was hugely disappointed — nobody he met in China knew kung fu or believed in communism anymore. And the only other foreigners in town were American Christians! To make matters worse, he liked us.
In four years, David and I had countless conversations about everything, especially about God. When his life fell apart, I gave him C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, which he read in a single day. That was the day he surrendered himself to God. Now David pastors a church near Vancouver.
For many people like David, Mere Christianity was the last straw — the final, persuasive argument for God’s existence. This was also true for J. I. Packer and Charles Colson. No, God doesn’t need Lewis’s help (or anyone’s) to draw people to Himself, but He knows that the path to some people’s hearts and wills runs through their minds. For such people, He often uses Lewis.
C. S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, was a professor of literature at Oxford and Cambridge. He may also have been the 20th century’s most influential Christian writer, read almost as often by unbelievers as believers. Listing his accomplishments in literature, philosophy, and Christian thought could fill the rest of this article. And having Lewis in our faith beats having Kobe Bryant on our basketball team.
Mere Christianity is not easy — especially for someone unaccustomed to thinking their way through a book. But nor is it really difficult. Readers can simply join Lewis as he traces a series of related truths to their logical conclusions. He’s enjoyably persuasive while helping us to see that what we know to be true about the world and humankind is true precisely because God designed things that way. When our eyes and hearts are open, we see God’s hand everywhere.
Of God’s many attributes, one which delighted Lewis — and countless others of us — is His lucidity. He makes sense. His ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9), and there are truths about Him which we cannot know or understand (Deuteronomy 29:29). But His Words to us are intelligible and comprehensible; we need not struggle to grasp baffling aphorisms about ‘the sound of one hand clapping’ or ‘nirvana discovered in the fullness of emptiness.’ Truths about God are profoundly accessible to simple children and to geniuses such as Lewis. He is Truth.
In addition to the thousands of people this book has drawn to Jesus, another contribution to our faith is Lewis’s eloquent argument from morality. Stomachs and hunger are evidence for the existence of food, as lungs are for air. Morality — our shared sense of ‘oughtness’ — likewise points to the objective existence of moral laws and to the Lawgiver. Without any teaching in ethics, even children complain, “Hey, that’s not fair!", thereby expressing our God-given morality.
Our faith gives hope, but it also makes sense. In fresh, non-churchy language, Lewis enables us to answer people with another “reason for the hope that we have” (I Peter 3:15). Don’t miss a chance to read Mere Christianity.
“Give up yourself [to Christ], and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it... Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours... Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”
(Mere Christianity has been made available for check-out from the ABEFC library, along with other titles in The Bookshelf.)