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Book: Mere Christianity
Author: C.S. Lewis
Macmillan, NY, pp. 190


Excerpt from Preface:

I hope no reader will suppose that "mere" Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions as if a man could adopt it in preference to Congregationalism or Greek Orthodoxy or anything else.

It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall, I have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not 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. For that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be) is, I think preferable. It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at. I do not know why there is this difference, but I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait. When you do get into the room you will find that the long wait has done some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise. But you must regard it as waiting, not as camping. You must keep on praying for light: and, of course, even in the hall, you must begin trying to obey the rules which are common to the whole house. And above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and paneling.

In plain language, the question should never be: "Do I like that kind of service?" but "Are these doctrines true: Is holiness here? Does my conscience move me towards this? Is my reluctance to knock at this door due to my pride, or my mere taste, or my personal dislike of this particular door-keeper?"

When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. This is one of the rules common to the whole house.

Excerpt from Book:

At the beginning I said there were Personalities in God. I will go further now. There are no real personalities anywhere else. Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self. Sameness is to be found most among the most "natural" men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints.

But there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away "blindly" so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality: but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real, new self (which is Christ's and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him.

Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.

The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorites wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ, and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.

Table of Contents:

Book I. Right and wrong as a clue to the meaning of the universe
1. The law of human nature
2. Some objections
3. The reality of the law
4. What lies behind the law
5. We have cause to be uneasy

Book II. What Christians believe
1. The rival conceptions of God
2. The invasion
3. The shocking alternative
4. The perfect penitent
5. The practical conclusion

Book III Christian behavior
1. The three parts of morality
2. The Cardinal Virtues
3. Social morality
4. Morality and psychoanalysis
5. Sexual morality
6. Christian marriage
7. Forgiveness
8. The great sin
9. Charity
10. Hope
11. Faith
12. Faith

Book IV. Beyond personality: or first steps in the doctrine of the Trinity
1. Making and begetting
2. The Three-Personal God
3. Time and beyond time
4. Good infection
5. The obstinate toy soldiers
6. Two notes
7. Let's pretend
8. Is Christianity hard or easy?
9. Counting the cost
10. Nice people or new men
11. The new men