Mere Christianity

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Themes and Colors
Morality, Religion, and Reason Theme Icon
Good, Evil, and Free Will Theme Icon
Christianity and Practice Theme Icon
Faith, Works, and Salvation Theme Icon
Christianity and the Two Kinds of “Life” Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Mere Christianity, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

In Book One of Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis attempts to use reason and logic to prove the existence of God—in the sense of an all-powerful, non-material being—and later to argue for the divinity of Jesus Christ. These two arguments—the so-called “argument from morality” and the “Christian trilemma”—are two of the most famous aspects of the book, and reflect Lewis’s overall project to justify Christianity through logic—a project that, by Lewis’s own admission, is…

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Book Two of Mere Christianity is largely concerned with the Christian definition of God—the almighty being who creates the moral law (as discussed in Book One—see above). As Lewis shows, Christians define God as an all-powerful being of infinite goodness. Right away, such a definition raises an important point—if God is infinitely moral and powerful, how could he allow pain, suffering, and other forms of evil in the world? In order to resolve this problem…

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In the third and fourth parts of his book, Lewis moves from an analysis of the logical bases for Christianity to a discussion of how a Christian lives—i.e., how to translate God’s teachings into one’s day-to-day existence. Lewis emphasizes the importance of Christian “practice: rituals, ceremonies, and other religious behaviors (e.g., praying, going to church, giving money to charity, etc.) that must be repeated again and again, sometimes against the Christian’s own will…

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One of the cornerstones of Christianity is the debate between “faith and works.” Traditionally, certain Christian sects and denominations (especially Protestant sects) emphasize the importance of “faith alone”—in other words, these sects maintain that Christians need only believe in the divinity and sacrifice of Jesus Christ in order to go to Heaven. Then there are other branches of Christianity (such as Catholicism) that emphasize the importance of good “works”; in other words, performing good deeds…

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In the fourth part of Mere Christianity, Lewis studies the process by which a human being spends a lifetime preparing for salvation. In Lewis’s view, there are two distinct kinds of life: first, the material, biological life of earthly beings (or bios); second, the spiritual, eternal life of Jesus Christ and his followers (or zoe). Lewis develops a complex theory of how humans transition from bios to zoe—in short, a scientific…

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