There are certain books that we read because we know we ought to read them. Books of literature like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (although it constantly gets placed on the ‘banned’ list), or Moby Dick (which when assigned to read it in college, I loathed reading and though there are some timeless parts to it that make it good literature, I still loathe having had to sit through the literal ocean of material to find them).

In the Christian community there are a few books (aside from the Bible) which ought to perk our interest, and ought to be visited again from time to time (for instance, Pilgrim’s Progress should make it’s journey to our reading table every few years). Sadly, some of these books get shelved and re-shelved without having been read for a number of reasons: It’s so old that the language is cumbersome; the ideas are so deep, I just can’t take it; I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon just because everyone else has. Among these books is a treasure from the late English defender of the faith C. S. Lewis. Probably best remembered for his Chronicles of Narnia series (headlined by the wonderful allegory The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), Lewis began his adult life as an atheist. Then he had an encounter with God that turned his thinking around. Because he was a thinker he produced a book called Mere Christianity. And it is that jewel that I am glad to say I’ve finally plunged into.

As I said, this is one of those books that people (especially Christians) should read, but I’m just now getting my teeth into it. I’ve had a little MacMillan paperback edition that I picked up for a few pennies at a book sale somewhere. My intention was to read it, and it sat on my shelf for awhile until I picked up the yellowed, tiny-print edition that gave me a headache, not because of the material, but the print. So, I made excuse (on more than one occasion)–too deep for me, too hard to wrap my head around, too tiny print, until a couple of years ago, I found a hardcover re-issue with nice-sized print.

I will be the first to tell you that the material is weighty, and that, because Lewis was British you have to understand where he is coming from with the phrases he uses (in one illustration he uses the term “six-pence” where modern Americans would use words ranging from “a nickel” to “a dollar” depending on the era of the speaker) but the ideas are well-formed and well-founded.

To top it off, the book is filled with quotable moments. Which brings me to the moment that I hit upon this morning as I was creeping closer to the end of the book (I’ve been at it for about four weeks now, and am in the last section — book 4 — with a quotation from about halfway through that part — chapter 5).

These thoughts, originally presented as a radio broadcast for the Christian thinker to get others thinking about Truth, have translated into an excellent book that should get all people–Christian and non-Christian; religious and irreverent; faithful and pagan–thinking and discussing deep matters. And this morning I came across a statement that slaps the modern church right smack in our self-righteous face. Lewis reminds readers that we need not go about bickering over our semantics as most Christian elitists want to do.

Two things I would request of you if you want to respond to this post: either (1) spend some thought on what Lewis is saying and respond directly to that, or (2) post your own favorite quotation from Mere Christianity (let’s try to stay with this text and not any number of other excellent ones from Lewis or other great Christian writers) in this thread. And now for what smacked me in my self-righteous face:

Of course you can express [God’s provision for mankind] in all sorts of different ways. You can say that Christ died for our sins. You may say that the Father has forgiven us because Christ has done for us what we ought to have done. You may say that we are washed in the blood of the Lamb. You may say that Christ has defeated death. They are all true. If any of them do not appeal to you, leave it alone and get on with the formula that does. And, whatever you do, do not start quarrelling with other people because they use a different formula from yours.