I just finished re-reading Mere Christianity. As always, I am amazed at its brilliant simplicity and straightforward explication of the basic tenets of Christianity; the things that all Christians in every age and denomination agree to. Every time I read it, I learn something new, which is one of the marks of a great work of art.
I first read "Mere Christianity" nearly 25 years ago as a sophomore in college when a good friend lent me a copy. Though I grew up in a Christian family and was baptised at an early age, "Mere Christianity" came as a wonderful surprise, almost a shock. Never before had Christianity been presented to me as something that was reasonable, rational, or intellectually defensible. Instead, Christianity was primarily an emotional relationship, something more felt than thought about. My earliest attempts at evangelism, or even apologia, were always quickly frustrated by many honest and reasonable questions by atheists and agnostics. I did not know why I believed or how to "be ready in season and out of season; [to] reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching." This frequently left me frustrated in my attempts to articulate my faith to others. Reading "Mere Christianity" changed all of that. I learned that Christianity was not only rational, but vigorously so. It was the beginning of my intellectual awakening as a Christian.
How did Lewis accomplish this feat? By walking the reader slowly, in a logical step-wise fashion, through the core doctrines of the Christian faith, beginning with the existence of God, and ending with the sanctification, and ultimate glorification, of the individual Christian. Along the way there are mutliple stops where he explains Christian teachings on natural law, sin, justification, morality, marriage, forgiveness, even the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, all the while making ample use of analogies and illustrations to clearly make his points.
"Mere Christianity" is a remarkable book for many reasons, not least of which that it is both easy enough for the youngest Christian to understand, but profound enough for even seasoned theologians to glean insight. It wisely avoids most of the controversial topics that tend to divide the denominations, making it accessible to Christians of all traditions; Roman, Orthodox, Anglican, and Protestant. Though uncompromising in its explication of Christian doctrine,"Mere Christianity" is gentle and loving in its tone, and witty in its presentation. Lewis was a gifted author and lay-theologian who dearly loved both working with words and anything to do with his Lord. These loves are everywhere present throughout his work, and fill this particular book nearly to overflowing. I recommend it highly to anyone who wants to understand more of what it means to be a Christian. It is not the end of theology, but it is a wonderful beginning.