Mere Christianity Book II Summary What Christians Believe
Chapter 1 The Rival Conceptions of God
Christians does NOT need to believe that all other religions are wrong “through and through.”
“ free to think that all [other] religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth.”
Example of a math problem:
all answers that are not the correct answer are equally wrong, but some are closer to the true answer than others.
Where these other religions differ from Christianity, however, “they are wrong and Christianity is right.”
Lewis bases this bold statement on his conviction that Jesus Christ was in fact exactly who he claimed to be. “the Word became flesh…”
The “rightful king has landed in disguise”
End of chapter 2
Two major groups and their perceptions of God
God is nature
Nature is god.
If the universe ceased to exist, god would cease to exist
God is neither “good” nor “evil.”
God does not take sides - “beyond good and evil”.
There is one God who is separate from the universe he created
Like a painter, God puts a lot of himself into his creation but God is NOT his creation
God is the ultimate goodness
he takes sides
fights against evil
Atheism - assumption that there is NO God
Atheists must believe that all religions are wrong
Problems inherent within atheism’s assumptions:
-atheists often see the the universe as “cruel” and “unjust”
-atheists often see all religion as “bad”
there is no basis for calling something “cruel,” “wrong,” or “bad” if there is no ultimate good to compare it to.
“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.”
“Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.”
Chapter Two The Invasion
Atheism is too simple
An overly simplistic Christian view embraces the goodness of God but does not want to address the more difficult aspects of sin, hell, the devil, and redemption
Christianity is not simple
“It is not a religion you should have guessed.”
What is the problem?
The universe is full of things that are obviously bad and apparently meaningless
The universe contains human beings “who know that it is bad and meaningless.”
Two ways to view the issue
Two equal powers/spirits/gods
One is “good” and one is “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.”
“.. badness is only spoiled goodness. And there must be something good first before it can be spoiled.”
“Christianity thinks this Dark power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong.”
The devil is a “fallen angel”
Evil -Sin- Badness
Badness is some goodness used in the wrong way
It is a parasite
It is a corruption of goodness
The world we find ourselves in is at war
a civil war
A Civil War
We live in “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……”
Chapter 3 The Shocking Alternative
”…an evil power has made himself for the present the Prince of this World.“
Is this in accordance with God's will?
"If it is, He is a strange God and if it is not, how can anything happen contrary to the will of a being with absolute power?”
Understanding God’s Will
Illustration of God’s will
God prefers that things be a certain way
God allows human beings to act - make choices
These choices are not always in accordance with his will- what he prefers
“…we know what we ought to do but we don’t do what we know we ought to do.”
God created creatures with a freedom to choose
Free will means those creatures can go wrong
Our freedom to choose makes evil possible
... Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata -- of creatures that worked like machines -- would hardly be worth creating.”
God thought it worth the risk
“ The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight……And for that they must be free."
How did things go wrong?
SELF – Pride (later chapter)
we want to be the center
we want to be God
Lucifer tried to become God
Satan (the fallen Lucifer) presented Eve with the temptation of becoming like God
"And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history -- money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery -- the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy."
What we really need and want
“… Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on.”
What did God do?
He gave human beings a knowledge of moral law
telling us right from wrong
He sent "good dreams”- strange stories about a God that comes to men and dies and returns to life
He chose a community of people, the Jews, and revealed Himself to them through history
Jesus was himself a Jew
God chose to enter time and space as a man to forgive our sins
Jesus is in fact God and a human being
Jesus cannot simply be a good moral teacher
He must be who is claimed to be or else he is a madman and a liar
“The Word became flesh…..”
Chapter 4 The Perfect Penitent
Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God
We may not fully understand how it works
But it does work
“ We believe that the death of Christ is just that point in history at which something absolutely unimaginable from the outside shows through into our own world. And if we cannot picture even the atoms of which our own world is built, of course we are not going to be able to picture this. A man may eat his dinner without understanding exactly how food nourishes him….. A man can accept Christ without knowing how it works: indeed, he certainly would not know how it works until he has accepted it."
Jesus the perfect penitent
"If you think of debt, there is plenty of point in a person who has some assets paying it on behalf of someone who has not.”
Jesus came to pay a debt that we could not pay
Jesus does for us what we cannot do for ourselves
Christ the perfect penitent
“Here's the catch. Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person - and he would not need it.”
We cannot do it on our own. The "same badness which makes us need it, makes us unable to do it."
God must help us
God puts "a bit of Himself" into us
“He could surrender His will, and suffer and die, because He was man; and He could do it perfectly because He was God. You and I can go through this process only if God does it in us; but God can do it only if He becomes man……we cannot share God's dying unless God dies; and he cannot die except by being a man. That is the sense in which He pays our debt, and suffers for us what He Himself need not suffer at all.
Chapter 5 The Practical Conclusion
New life in Christ
“People often ask when the next step in evolution--the step to something beyond man--will happen. But in the Christian view, it has happened already. In Christ a new kind of man appeared: and the new kind of life which began in Him is to be put into us.”
Expressions of Christ’s life in the believer
Holy Communion/ the Lord's Supper
What about those who have never heard about Jesus ?
Lewis’ perspective is that there is no salvation “outside of Christ”
There is but one sacrifice for sin
There is but one mediator between God and man
In Lewis’ view, how that reality is mediated (worked out) to those who have never heard of Christ is up to God
”….. the Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him. He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us….”
Why is God delaying his ultimate victory?
To give us a chance
To give us time
There's no point in choosing to join the winning side after the war is over
“ He wants to give us the chance of joining His side freely….God will invade. But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realize what it will be like when He does. When that happens, it is the end of the world.”