A Taste of the Classics: Mere Christianity

by Ken Boa

The material contained in C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity was originally a series of radio messages aired by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) during World War II. His first broadcasts, which aired in 1942–43, included The Case for Christianity and Christian Behavior. Beyond Personality was heard in 1944. These three works were combined later into the book Mere Christianity.

By the term “mere Christianity” Lewis was referring to the essence of Christianity rather than to its denominational manifestations. The term implies that there are particular biblical doctrines that distinguish Christianity. Lewis deals with basic, creedal orthodoxy—those essential elements revealed in Scripture and condensed in the great affirmations of the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. Lewis seeks to delineate the beliefs that Christians share in common—the essentials of the faith. His Mere Christianity reflects the spirit of the famous statement: “In the essentials, unity; in the nonessentials, diversity; and in all things, charity.”1

The Hallway of Doors

Lewis introduces his work with an image of a hallway containing numerous doors leading into various rooms. He explains, “If I can bring anyone into that hall, I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in.” In other words, he argues that all believers in Christ can share the hall, but eventually each must discern which community’s door he or she will enter.

Lewis understood the biblical emphasis on unity within the true church, for he warns…

A Taste of the Classics: Mere Christianity