Mere Christianity

C.S. Lewis


Welcome to a journey through “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis πŸ“šβœ¨! This book, a cornerstone of Christian apologetics, began as a series of BBC radio talks during the tumultuous years of World War II. Amidst the backdrop of conflict and uncertainty, Lewis’s words sought to explain and defend the beliefs that are common to all Christians, earning it a timeless place in religious studies and beyond.

C.S. Lewis, originally an atheist, became one of the most influential Christian writers of the 20th century. His transition from skepticism to faith uniquely positioned him to address both believers and non-believers with profound empathy and insight. “Mere Christianity” transcends the boundaries of denomination, inviting readers into a deeper understanding of the Christian faith.

The book falls into a genre that blends theological discussion with accessible, engaging prose, making complex ideas understandable to a wide audience. Through Lewis’s clear and often witty narrative, readers are invited to consider the core tenets of Christianity in a fresh and compelling way.

So, whether you’re exploring faith for the first time, seeking to deepen your spiritual understanding, or just curious about C.S. Lewis’s perspective, “Mere Christianity” offers a rich, thought-provoking read. Let’s dive in! πŸŒŠπŸ“–

Plot Summary

“Mere Christianity” is unique in that it doesn’t follow a traditional narrative structure with characters, exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Instead, it’s a theological text that unfolds through a series of logical arguments, personal reflections, and philosophical discussions. However, we can break down the book into its main thematic “events” to understand its flow and progression:

Introduction β€” Lewis starts by addressing the common sense of “right and wrong” as a clue to the meaning of the universe, suggesting that this shared moral law hints at a divine lawgiver.

The Existence of God β€” Through a logical process, Lewis argues for the existence of God, beginning with humanity’s universal moral code and moving towards a rational basis for theism.

Christian Behavior β€” This section delves into the practical implications of Christian faith in daily life, discussing virtues, social ethics, and the challenge of living out one’s beliefs.

The Virtues β€” Lewis outlines the cardinal virtues (prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude) and the theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity), explaining their relevance to Christian life.

Faith β€” The climax of the book could be considered Lewis’s discussion on faith, not just as belief despite evidence but as a virtue that sustains believers in their spiritual journey.

Hope and Charity β€” Following the “climax” of faith, Lewis discusses hope and charity, emphasizing the importance of a Christian’s heavenly focus and love for God and neighbor.

The Great Sin β€” Lewis identifies pride as the “great sin,” discussing its harmful effects and the necessity of humility.

Conclusion β€” Lewis concludes by reflecting on the Christian concept of God as Trinity and the transformative journey of becoming “little Christs,” emphasizing the ongoing process of spiritual growth and union with Christ.

“Mere Christianity” doesn’t resolve in the way a fictional narrative might, but it aims to bring the reader to a clearer understanding of and belief in the basic tenets of Christianity. Lewis’s goal is not merely to inform but to transform, guiding readers towards a deeper, reasoned faith.

Character Analysis

Given the nature of “Mere Christianity” as a non-fiction theological exploration rather than a narrative with a cast of characters, the “characters” in this analysis are the conceptual personae that C.S. Lewis uses to illustrate his points. Therefore, the analysis will focus on the roles these conceptual figures play in conveying Lewis’s arguments and teachings.

Humanity β€” Represents the universal human experience, characterized by an inherent understanding of right and wrong. Humanity is driven by a shared moral law, suggesting a collective awareness of a higher power or divine standard. This concept is pivotal for Lewis’s argument that this moral law points to the existence of God.

God β€” Portrayed as the moral lawgiver and the ultimate standard of good. Lewis discusses various attributes of God, emphasizing His nature as utterly good, just, and loving. God’s character development is through humanity’s understanding and relationship with Him, evolving from a distant creator to a personal God who invites individuals into a transformative relationship.

Christians β€” Described as followers of Christ who aim to live according to the moral laws and virtues discussed by Lewis. Their development is spiritual and moral, growing from an initial acceptance of Christian doctrine to a deeper, more profound living out of their faith through virtues like charity, hope, and faith.

The Devil/Satan β€” Although not a main focus, Lewis occasionally references this figure as the embodiment of evil and opposition to God’s will. This character serves as a contrast to the goodness and love represented by God, highlighting the cosmic battle between good and evil.

Summary Table:

HumanityUniversal moral awareness, searching for truth and meaning.Moves from recognizing a moral law to understanding its divine source.
GodUtterly good, just, loving, the moral lawgiver.Becomes more personal and relational to individuals over time.
ChristiansSeeking to live out Christian virtues and teachings.Grow in spiritual maturity and understanding of faith.
The DevilOpposition to God, embodiment of evil.Serves as a contrast to highlight the struggle between good and evil.

This table simplifies the complex character analysis in “Mere Christianity,” focusing on the overarching figures Lewis uses to convey his theological arguments and insights.

Themes and Symbols

“Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis is rich with themes and symbols that resonate deeply with its readers, providing profound insights into the Christian faith. Here, we delve into some of the major themes and symbols presented in the book:

Moral Law β€” This is a central theme in Lewis’s argument, suggesting the existence of a universal, moral standard that all humans are aware of, regardless of culture or time period. This moral law points to a Moral Lawgiver, which Lewis argues is God. The theme underscores the book’s exploration of ethics, duty, and the nature of good and evil.

Faith β€” Faith is not only a theme but a journey Lewis describes, moving from simple belief in God to a deeper, more complex trust in Christ and His promises. It symbolizes the transformation from knowing about God to personally knowing and experiencing God.

Transformation β€” The process of becoming “little Christs,” or more Christ-like, is a theme that encapsulates the Christian journey of sanctification. Lewis discusses how Christians are meant to be transformed by their faith, affecting every aspect of their lives and leading them towards spiritual maturity.

Christian Unity β€” Despite denominational differences, Lewis emphasizes what he calls “mere Christianity,” the core beliefs shared among Christians. This theme advocates for unity and commonality in faith, suggesting that at the heart of Christianity lies a shared truth that binds believers together.

Pride vs. Humility β€” Lewis identifies pride as the “great sin” and contrasts it with humility, which he presents as essential for Christian life. This theme explores the destructive nature of pride and the liberating, life-giving quality of humility.


The Hallway and Rooms β€” Lewis uses the metaphor of a hallway and rooms to describe Christianity and its various denominations. The hallway symbolizes mere Christianity, the shared beliefs among all Christians, while the rooms represent the different denominations. This symbolizes the journey of faith, encouraging believers to move deeper into their faith and find their place within the Christian “house.”

Light and Darkness β€” Common symbols in religious and philosophical literature, light and darkness are used by Lewis to represent knowledge and ignorance, good and evil, and the presence and absence of God. Lewis encourages readers to step into the light, symbolizing a move towards truth and away from ignorance and error.

The Ship, Fleet, and Convoy β€” Lewis uses these metaphors to describe individual ethics, social ethics, and the purpose of human life within the context of Christian morality. These symbols illustrate how Christians are to navigate their personal lives (the ship), their relationships with others (the fleet), and their ultimate purpose and direction towards God (the convoy).

These themes and symbols weave throughout “Mere Christianity,” offering readers a multifaceted exploration of Christian doctrine, ethics, and spiritual growth. Lewis’s use of these literary tools not only clarifies complex theological concepts but also invites readers to reflect on their own beliefs and spiritual journey.

Writing Style and Tone

C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity” is renowned not just for its insightful exploration of Christian apologetics but also for its distinctive writing style and tone, which have captivated readers since its publication. Here’s a breakdown of these elements and how they contribute to the book’s impact:

Conversational and Accessible β€” Lewis employs a conversational tone throughout the book, making complex theological concepts accessible to a broad audience. This approachability encourages readers from various backgrounds to engage with the text, fostering a deeper understanding of Christian beliefs.

Logical and Rational β€” Lewis systematically builds his arguments using logic and reason. This methodical approach reassures readers that faith is not contrary to reason but is instead compatible and enriched by it. His style appeals to those who value intellectual rigor and seek a rational basis for faith.

Imaginative and Analogical β€” Lewis uses metaphors, analogies, and imaginative scenarios to clarify abstract concepts, making them vivid and relatable. This creative use of language enhances the reader’s ability to grasp complex ideas by connecting them to familiar experiences and objects.

Empathetic and Inclusive β€” Despite his firm convictions, Lewis’s tone is never dismissive or condescending towards skepticism or differing beliefs. Instead, he addresses readers’ doubts and questions with empathy and respect, reflecting his understanding of and respect for human frailty and the diversity of spiritual journeys.

Humorous and Witty β€” Lewis’s writing often includes touches of humor and wit, making the exploration of weighty theological topics not only enlightening but also enjoyable. This levity serves to disarm potential defensiveness and opens readers up to deep contemplation.

Reflective and Personal β€” The text often delves into introspection, with Lewis sharing personal insights and reflections. This vulnerability invites readers into a shared space of contemplation, encouraging them to reflect on their own beliefs and experiences.

  • Conversational Tone: Makes complex ideas accessible.
  • Logical Reasoning: Appeals to intellectual readers.
  • Creative Analogies: Helps clarify abstract concepts.
  • Empathetic Approach: Respects and addresses diverse viewpoints.
  • Humorous Elements: Engages and disarms readers.
  • Personal Reflections: Encourages introspection and personal growth.

These stylistic choices and tones are integral to “Mere Christianity’s” enduring appeal. Lewis’s ability to combine intellectual rigor with imaginative storytelling and personal vulnerability makes the book not only a significant theological work but also a compelling and enriching read for a diverse audience.

Literary Devices Used in Mere Christianity

C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity” employs a variety of literary devices that enhance its arguments and contribute to its lasting impact. Below are ten significant devices used throughout the book, each illustrated with how Lewis incorporates them into his exploration of Christian apologetics.

1. Analogy β€” Lewis uses analogies to make complex theological concepts accessible and relatable. For example, he compares the Christian community to a fleet of ships, each needing to be well-ordered internally (personal virtues) and in right relation with others (social virtues) to avoid collisions and reach their destination.

2. Metaphor β€” The book is rich in metaphors. One notable instance is the description of God as a sculptor and humans as statues, illustrating the process of sanctification and the painful yet transformative experience of becoming ‘little Christs.’

3. Allusion β€” Lewis frequently alludes to the Bible, classical literature, and historical events to support his arguments. This not only lends authority to his claims but also connects them to a broader context of knowledge and tradition.

4. Paradox β€” The use of paradox draws readers into deeper reflection. For instance, Lewis discusses the Christian paradox of finding true freedom through obedience to God, challenging conventional notions of freedom and submission.

5. Irony β€” Lewis occasionally employs irony to critique modern societal attitudes towards religion and morality, highlighting the absurdity of certain secular positions without direct confrontation.

6. Hyperbole β€” Exaggeration is used for emphasis, particularly in discussing the moral and spiritual stakes of Christian belief, making the urgency and importance of his points more vivid.

7. Rhetorical Questions β€” By posing rhetorical questions, Lewis invites the reader into a dialogue, encouraging them to actively engage with the text and ponder its implications for their own lives.

8. Personification β€” Inanimate concepts, such as virtue or sin, are often personified to illustrate their impact on human life. This device makes abstract moral and theological principles more tangible and understandable.

9. Simile β€” Lewis uses similes to draw comparisons that illuminate his points, such as comparing the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to a book’s dimensions, helping readers grasp the concept of unity in diversity.

10. Repetition β€” Key themes and ideas are reiterated throughout the book, reinforcing Lewis’s core messages and aiding in the reader’s retention and understanding of complex concepts.

These literary devices are integral to the effectiveness of “Mere Christianity.” Lewis’s skillful use of language not only clarifies and persuades but also makes the reading experience engaging and memorable, inviting readers to explore the depths of Christian doctrine in a profoundly accessible way.

Literary Device Examples

In “Mere Christianity,” C.S. Lewis’s adept use of literary devices not only strengthens his arguments but also enriches the reader’s experience. Here, we explore specific examples and explanations for each of the top 10 literary devices identified in the book.


Example 1: The Christian community as a fleet of ships.

  • Explanation: This analogy illustrates the need for personal virtue and right relations with others to avoid chaos and reach spiritual destinations successfully.

Example 2: Faith as a house.

  • Explanation: Lewis compares faith to a house being built, indicating that it’s not just about initial belief but about living within that faith and continually building upon it.

Example 3: God’s work on humans as a sculptor sculpting a statue.

  • Explanation: This analogy is used to describe the transformative and often painful process of becoming more Christ-like, emphasizing the active and sometimes uncomfortable role of divine intervention in personal growth.


Example 1: God as a sculptor, humans as statues.

  • Explanation: Highlights the sanctification process, illustrating how God shapes individuals towards perfection, which can be painful but leads to a higher form of existence.

Example 2: Sin as a disease.

  • Explanation: This metaphor illustrates the pervasive and corrupting nature of sin, likening it to an illness that affects every part of a person’s being.

Example 3: Christian life as a journey or race.

  • Explanation: Conveys the idea of spiritual progress towards a goal, emphasizing perseverance, direction, and the eventual reward of reaching one’s spiritual destination.


Example 1: References to biblical narratives.

  • Explanation: Lewis strengthens his arguments by connecting them to familiar stories from the Bible, providing a shared context for his Christian audience.

Example 2: Classical mythology and literature.

  • Explanation: Allusions to classical works enrich Lewis’s discussions by drawing on the broader western intellectual tradition.

Example 3: Historical events.

  • Explanation: By referring to specific historical events, Lewis grounds his arguments in real-world examples, making them more relatable and persuasive.


Example 1: True freedom found through obedience to God.

  • Explanation: Challenges conventional ideas about freedom and submission, suggesting that true liberty is found in submission to divine will.

Example 2: To gain your life, you must lose it.

  • Explanation: Illustrates the Christian principle that self-denial leads to true life, inviting readers to consider the value of sacrifice.

Example 3: The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

  • Explanation: This paradox encourages a reevaluation of worldly values, promoting humility and service over competition and status.


Example 1: Modern attitudes towards religion.

  • Explanation: Lewis points out the irony in dismissing religion for lack of evidence while often accepting secular beliefs without scrutiny.

Example 2: The quest for happiness.

  • Explanation: Highlights the irony that the more directly one pursues happiness, the more elusive it becomes, suggesting that true joy is found in seeking something beyond oneself.

Example 3: The rejection of traditional morality.

  • Explanation: Lewis uses irony to critique the dismissal of traditional moral values as outdated, suggesting that this rejection often leads to less happiness and more confusion.

These examples underscore Lewis’s mastery of literary devices, demonstrating how they serve not just to argue but also to illuminate and persuade, making “Mere Christianity” a compelling and thought-provoking read.

Mere Christianity – FAQs

What is “Mere Christianity” about? “Mere Christianity” is a theological book by C.S. Lewis that aims to explain and defend the beliefs common to all Christians. It is based on a series of radio talks given by Lewis during World War II and covers topics from the existence of God to Christian morals and the doctrine of the Trinity.

Who was C.S. Lewis? C.S. Lewis was a British writer and lay theologian known for his works on Christian apologetics, as well as the “Chronicles of Narnia” series. He was an academic at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and a former atheist who converted to Christianity, becoming one of the most influential Christian writers of the 20th century.

What is the structure of “Mere Christianity”? The book is divided into four parts: “Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe,” “What Christians Believe,” “Christian Behaviour,” and “Beyond Personality: Or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity.” Each part builds upon the previous, forming a comprehensive argument for the Christian faith.

Why is “Mere Christianity” significant? “Mere Christianity” is significant because it provides a rational basis for Christianity that appeals to believers and non-believers alike. Its clear, logical, and accessible style helps readers understand the core beliefs of Christianity and encourages them to think deeply about their own faith or skepticism.

Can “Mere Christianity” be read by non-Christians? Yes, “Mere Christianity” is written in a way that is accessible and engaging for non-Christians. C.S. Lewis’s empathetic approach to doubt and his clear explanations of Christian concepts make it a valuable read for anyone interested in understanding Christianity, regardless of their current beliefs.

What are the main themes of “Mere Christianity”? The main themes include the existence of a moral law, the nature of God, the importance of Christian virtues, the concept of faith, the role of Christ in human salvation, and the significance of the Christian community. These themes underscore the book’s aim to explain the essence of Christian faith and practice.

How does C.S. Lewis address skepticism in “Mere Christianity”? Lewis addresses skepticism by starting with common groundβ€”the universal sense of right and wrongβ€”and building a logical argument for the existence of God and the truth of Christianity. He acknowledges doubts and objections, providing thoughtful responses to common skeptical concerns.

What literary devices does C.S. Lewis use in “Mere Christianity”? Lewis uses a range of literary devices, including analogy, metaphor, allusion, paradox, irony, hyperbole, rhetorical questions, personification, simile, and repetition. These devices enhance his arguments and make complex theological concepts more understandable and relatable.

Is “Mere Christianity” a good starting point for studying Christian apologetics? Yes, “Mere Christianity” is often recommended as a starting point for those interested in Christian apologetics due to its clear, reasoned approach to explaining and defending the Christian faith. It provides a solid foundation for understanding the basic arguments for Christianity.


1. Who is the author of “Mere Christianity”?

  • A) J.R.R. Tolkien
  • B) C.S. Lewis
  • C) G.K. Chesterton
  • D) A.W. Tozer
  • Correct Answer: B) C.S. Lewis

2. What inspired the content of “Mere Christianity”?

  • A) A series of university lectures
  • B) A collection of newspaper articles
  • C) A series of radio broadcasts during World War II
  • D) A personal diary
  • Correct Answer: C) A series of radio broadcasts during World War II

3. What is a major theme of “Mere Christianity”?

  • A) The superiority of Christianity over other religions
  • B) The existence of a universal moral law
  • C) The importance of political power
  • D) The evolution of human consciousness
  • Correct Answer: B) The existence of a universal moral law

4. Which literary device is frequently used by C.S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity”?

5. According to “Mere Christianity,” what is the ‘great sin’ that C.S. Lewis discusses?

  • A) Greed
  • B) Lust
  • C) Pride
  • D) Envy
  • Correct Answer: C) Pride

6. How does C.S. Lewis begin his argument for the existence of God in “Mere Christianity”?

  • A) By proving the resurrection of Jesus
  • B) By discussing the complexity of the universe
  • C) By addressing the universal moral code shared by humanity
  • D) By debunking other religions
  • Correct Answer: C) By addressing the universal moral code shared by humanity

7. What does C.S. Lewis compare to a fleet of ships to explain Christian behavior?

  • A) Societal laws
  • B) Individual virtues
  • C) Church denominations
  • D) Human relationships
  • Correct Answer: D) Human relationships

8. What metaphor does Lewis use to describe God’s work on humans?

  • A) A painter painting a canvas
  • B) A teacher educating students
  • C) A sculptor sculpting a statue
  • D) A gardener cultivating a garden
  • Correct Answer: C) A sculptor sculpting a statue

9. “Mere Christianity” is divided into how many parts?

  • A) Two
  • B) Three
  • C) Four
  • D) Five
  • Correct Answer: C) Four

10. C.S. Lewis was a professor at which universities?

  • A) Oxford and Harvard
  • B) Cambridge and Yale
  • C) Oxford and Cambridge
  • D) Harvard and Princeton
  • Correct Answer: C) Oxford and Cambridge

This quiz is designed to test your comprehension of “Mere Christianity,” covering its authorship, content themes, literary devices, and more.


Identify the Literary Devices Used in the Following Paragraph from “Mere Christianity”:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He doing? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”


  1. Metaphor: The entire passage uses a sustained metaphor, comparing the individual’s spiritual transformation to a house being rebuilt. This illustrates the process of sanctification and personal growth under divine guidance.
  2. Personification: God is personified as a builder or contractor, actively working on the ‘house’ to make improvements and adjustments. This literary device brings a dynamic and relatable aspect to the idea of divine intervention in one’s life.
  3. Imagery: Vivid imagery is used to describe the reconstruction process – the knocking about of the house, the pain it causes, and the grandeur of the final structure. This helps readers visualize the transformative process of becoming more like Christ.
  4. Rhetorical Question: “What on earth is He doing?” This question invites the reader to engage more deeply with the text, pondering the sometimes painful and confusing aspects of spiritual growth.

This exercise helps in understanding how Lewis employs various literary devices to convey complex theological ideas in an engaging and relatable manner.