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By Kenneth R. Samples
Given its dependence on Judaism and the Hebrew Bible, historic Christianity has always been a textual and literary religion. Because of their belief in a verbal, propositional revelation in Scripture (Old and New Testaments), Christians, like Jews before them, have been known as People of the Book. With that bookish past, I think Christians have good reason to be vigorous and dedicated readers.
This new blog series on Reflections is intended to encourage Christians to read more vigorously by providing a beginner’s guide to some of the Christian classics in such fields as theology, philosophy, and apologetics. Hopefully a very brief introduction to these important Christian texts will motivate today’s believers, as St. Augustine was called to in his dramatic conversion to Christianity, to “take up and read” (Latin: Tolle lege) these classic books.
Why Is This Author Notable?
The first book in this series was written by “Oxbridge” literary scholar C. S. Lewis (1898–1963) who also served as a lay Anglican theologian and a versatile Christian apologist. He was perhaps the most influential Christian thinker and writer of the twentieth century. For more about him and his accomplishments, see my article, “Christian Thinkers 101: A Crash Course on C. S. Lewis.”
What Is This Book About?
The subject matter of Mere Christianity came from a series of BBC radio talks that Lewis gave during the Second World War. The book’s basic content first appeared in published form as three pamphlets and was later expanded into a book in 1952. This work may be Lewis’s most popular nonfiction book.
In the preface, Lewis presents the idea of “mere Christianity,” which reflects far more than a book title. This term refers to a group of essential and “agreed, or common, or central” Christian doctrines (such as the Trinity, the incarnation, and the atonement) that all branches of historic Christendom (Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant) affirm. Thus the goal of the book is to explain and defend the central beliefs and values of common Christianity…
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