Review: Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is a public apologetic for Christianity based on the author’s radio addresses during World War II. Thinking of Lewis riding the train from Oxford to London, while London was being bombed, to deliver these addresses on the radio is astonishing. He was asked to do this and it was an effort to unite a country at war. This was behind Lewis’ objective of “mere” Christianity. He took the term from the Puritan Richard Baxter who used it to refer to essential Christian doctrine, or the essence or core of Christian faith. Lewis envisioned it as the lowest threshold by which any Christian profession had merit. So he wrote seeking commonality and avoiding the “denominational doctrines” that were sources of division. I can’t say I commend the approach.

Lewis was first a philosopher, so it’s not surprising his approach was more a reasoned approach than a biblically didactic approach. I don’t think we should reject a reasoned approach from the off, because to do so would be to suggest that reasoning, by that I mean the laws of reason, is contradictory to Scripture. We know that is not the case for Jesus commended the reasoning of the Pharisees concerning the weather (Matthew 16:1-4), but condemned their reasoning that was not joined with faith to discern the true sign before their eyes. Their problem wasn’t reasoning per se, but unbelief.

However, Lewis was not a theologian nor a pastor. He had definite holes and problems in his theology. At times he does make awful statements in terms of theology. His anti-calvinist shirt tails come untucked here and there, but he usually manages to get them shoved back in his trousers, but his belt could use a little more cinching. Lewis does understand something of practical Christianity. He knows something of Christianity in a tweed sport coat, a conductor’s cap, a mother’s apron, and a workman’s overalls. This is the area where I did the most highlighting as I read.

As a thinker and writer, Lewis is always worth reading. As an exegete and didact of the text of scripture, not so much. One can benefit from reading him, but one has to know how to read.

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Review: The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses

The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses
The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a collection of different addresses delivered by Lewis. It’s more like a collection of essays on different, though somewhat connected, topics. Many well-known quotes come from this book. His approach is more philosophical than theological. Many have written about different errors with Lewis, and he certainly has those. He demonstrates a great ability of reason and expression. These make Lewis an author worth reading. I have found there is something to learn from him even when he is wrong, or, at least I should say, when I disagree.

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Review: A Distant Grief: The Real Story Behind the Martyrdom of Christians in Uganda

A Distant Grief: The Real Story Behind the Martyrdom of Christians in Uganda
A Distant Grief: The Real Story Behind the Martyrdom of Christians in Uganda by F. Kefa Sempangi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is the author’s account of Christian faith, joy, courage, suffering, and martyrdom during Idi Amin’s reign of terror in the early 70’s in Uganda. So many is those days faced death daily. Sempangi tells of how people would claim to be converted and they quit asking them if they believed in Jesus Christ and rather asked, “Are you ready to die for Jesus Christ?”

He writes of the work going on in his own heart and life during these times. It was chilling to read of how he narrowly escaped, only by God’s grace, and went to seminary at Westminster in Philadelphia. He reveled in the study and discussions, but found himself drifting into an intellectual Christianity without the fire and zeal of his days in Uganda. It is a constant struggle we Christians face as we seek to have our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength engaged in the love, study, communion, worship, and work of God.

I highly recommend this book. It is also a valuable historical account of a time the author lived through.

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Review: Always Ready: Directions For Defending The Faith

Always Ready: Directions For Defending The Faith
Always Ready: Directions For Defending The Faith by Greg L. Bahnsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a solid work on presuppositional apologetics. Bahnsen refuses and exposes the myth of neutrality, defends the self-attesting authority of God’s Word, and shows why the Word is the ultimate starting point. He gives many counters to the common arguments and objections encountered by Christians in the culture. He recognizes that the collision is one of worldviews and not evidence.

I certainly recommend this excellent work on apologetics. Bahnsen has brought Van Til down to a more accessible level in this book, and that is a good thing.

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Review: The Apostle : A Life of Paul

The Apostle : A Life of Paul
The Apostle : A Life of Paul by John Charles Pollock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading this book. It is a biography of Paul the Apostle. Pollock is biographer and wrote this book as a biographer and historian. The New Testament is not written as a biography of Paul, so there are gaps in his life story. Some of those gaps have historical help to fill them and others don’t. Pollock does some speculating to close the gaps and sometimes notes alternative theories. Overall it was a good treatment and a helpful book to personalize Paul a bit.

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