I repeatedly hear fellow Christians who admit to sharing my childhood and teen experience of “growing up afraid of not attaining salvation.” Bangkok mission life was in many ways an exhilarating adventure, yet the Protestant theology of that era meant that a lot of MKs – and our youthful peers here in the U.S. – anxiously dreaded Christ returning at an inopportune moment when an unconfessed sin or evil thought would disqualify us. The flickering light bulb of that sort of iffy salvation has thankfully been replaced! I’m grateful for the helpful gospel sermons and books offered by my uncle, Morris Venden, and then also the huge mainstream bestseller: C. S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity.”
I’m a big fan of Lewis – he’s one of my favorite Christian writers – so this biography was a personal blessing. It covers the spectrum of Lewis’s life, from childhood through his brilliant academic career. Alister McGrath makes several key points regarding his subject’s seminal work. “Lewis’s ‘Mere Christianity’ became the manifesto for a form of Christianity that exulted in essentials, regarding other matters as secondary.” He felt called to defend the core essence of Christian faith, determining that with such a grand and noble God and such a winsome story as Calvary at its core, denominational differences were likely less than crucial: a perspective I definitely endorse.
In addition, Lewis wrote marvelous novels for both children (“The Chronicles of Narnia”) and adults, graciously hinting at Christian ideas in his fabled Space Trilogy. McGrath pays homage to this achievement: “It is clear that Lewis’s writings have now found a new audience far beyond his original admirers. He has come to be seen as a trustworthy, intelligent, and above all accessible representative of a theologically and culturally attractive [even “obstinately pleasurable”] vision of the Christian faith. He is a modern Christian writer regarded with respect and affection by Christians of all traditions.” Political junkies will gratefully note that it was the bracing logic of “Mere Christianity” that brought Watergate convict Chuck Colson into the Body of Christ. No wonder surveys “regularly cite it as THE most influential religious book of the twentieth century.”
That’s a five-star review I heartily endorse.