Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis is a theological work adapted from a collection of BBC radio addresses given during the years 1942-1944 while Lewis was at Oxford. In this work, Lewis lays a foundation for religion on the basis of human morality going back to the ancient concept of Natural Law. Here Lewis presents the compelling argument (including coincidentally the same insights in Books 1 and 2 which aided Lewis in his conversion from atheism to Christianity) that all of humanity, throughout history and across all cultures, has had a common value system. This value system, called The Law of Human Nature, is that set of “rights” and “wrongs” which allow human society to exist and function well. Lewis shows that not only do people believe in a right and wrong, they consistently judge others according to this inner conscience. He cites everyday examples like the human sense of fairness or the desire for equality to show how people have basic governing ideas which they are not taught but which guide their decisions and actions. Because of the time frame in which these lectures were given, Lewis mentions examples such as Hitler and his attempted world take-over to help his listeners see that they did themselves truly have this inner sense of right and wrong. He said that if they didn’t “…all the things we said about the war [WWII] 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 practiced?” Upon this moral foundation, Lewis proceeds to explain our need, knowing that there is a right and a wrong, to discover the right and live it. The paradox, though, is that we all fall short. We all know what is right and often we don’t do it. There begins our need for a Savior.
Principle: Every human being has an inner sense of right and wrong.
Themes: natural law; conscience; God; morality; values; salvation; love; human nature
Author bio: C.S. Lewis
1-Why was the definition of natural law changed? What does this have to do with the scientific view?
2-Lewis says there are things we should do regardless of how we feel about them. Is this true? How do you know?
3-How can we discern between values, moral law, facts and instincts and our own desires?
4-How can we focus more on the truth rather than on blame?