I am enjoying immensely reading through C.S. Lewis again. First, The Abolition of Man, and now, Mere Christianity. It's one of the things I love about good books - that each reading, each tasting, is different and each subsequent view richer.
I appreciate what Lewis does in this book, and while I admire what he attempts with his "mere," I also see negative ramifications of that same "mere." There is nothing mere or boiled down about Christianity. Because there is no essence to which Christianity can be boiled down. It is wholeness and fullness because it is Christ, and anything less than that fullness is less, not mere. All things considered, it is a very Protestant perspective of Christianity and therefore a very measured and fair view of the thing: He tries to say what is universally Christian among all who can claim the title. It is certainly more how I'd like to talk with family about faith, while not obscuring what I believe to be true. But it is still less. Then again, how much can you do in such a slim volume? I have disagreements here - that being said, Lewis is brilliant. His chapter on faith and works (Chapter 12) is a masterpiece and ought to be read by Catholics and Protestants alike who still imagine there a divide. He has terrific insights into the idea of "Sonship" that all of us, male and female, participate in. And he's readable, familiar, and goes to nearly embarrassing lengths to be so. The depth of his faith is context for the book, though it is seldom front and center. It is like a rich landscape painted with the promise of exploration, but remains, in this picture, only the backdrop. And I'm left wanting more of it - but he's cordoned off fabulous bits of the picture. Then again, how much can you do in such a slim volume?
There is this snippet at the end of his chapter on charity: "But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him." That's classic Lewis and authentic Christianity. And it's these moments of sweetness that make Jack one of my favorite Christian thinkers.