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Summary

Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis' eloquent and winsome defense of the Christian faith, originated as a series of BBC radio talks broadcast during the dark days of World War Two. Here is the story of the extraordinary life and afterlife of this influential and much-beloved book.

George Marsden describes how Lewis gradually went from being an atheist to a committed Anglican - famously converting to Christianity in 1931 after conversing into the night with his friends, J. R. R. Tolkien and Hugh Dyson - and how Lewis delivered his wartime talks to a traumatized British nation in the midst of an all-out war for survival.

Marsden recounts how versions of those talks were collected together in 1952 under the title Mere Christianity, and how the book went on to become one of the most widely read presentations of essential Christianity ever published, particularly among American evangelicals. He examines its role in the conversion experiences of such figures as Charles Colson, who read the book while facing arrest for his role in the Watergate scandal. Marsden explores its relationship with Lewis' Narnia books and other writings and explains why Lewis' plainspoken case for Christianity continues to have its critics and ardent admirers to this day. With uncommon clarity and grace, Marsden provides invaluable new insights into this modern spiritual classic.

©2016 Princeton University Press (P)2016 Recorded Books

What listeners say about C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity

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Very Disappointing

Bought this thinking it was C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity as is clear in the title but when I went to listen to it found an extra line which wasn't clear before the purchase - A Biography not the CS Lewis Book!

5 people found this helpful

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Pleasantly Surprised

I didn’t realise I had purchased a book review and was going to ask for a refund but then I decided to listen on and found it insightful and engaging. It provides a good overview of the context that Mere Christianity was birthed from in relation to Lewis’s personal and professional life which framed his journey and the historical/cultural events during those years. Learnt a lot. Glad I decided to listen on. Will purchase his book, Mere Christianity and probably listen to this audiobook again

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  • James
  • 13-05-16

Calm, Clear, Valuable Look at the Legacy of M.C.

What did you love best about C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity?

Lovers of CSL's books (of which I am one) nearly always approach a new Lewis book with a mix of excitement (Alright! More stuff about Lewis!) and dread (What if something foundational to my experience with Lewis is threatened??). Especially with this book, since many of us find Mere Christianity's arguments almost perfect and we rely upon it for the part of our belief monitored by our reason.

Well, there are critiques of Lewis's arguments here. In fact, a major part of the book catches us all up on the latest (N T Wright, McGrath, et al) responses - and responses to responses - to the most debated parts of Mere Christianity, particularly the Lord, Liar, Lunatic argument. There is nothing earth-shattering, but this book did finally turn a light on for me concerning what I really come to Lewis for: it is not to have my intellect 100% secure in my belief. If I'm honest, all along I have come to Lewis to have my intellect "pretty sure" in my belief. There are other parts of my person besides my reason responsible for my faith, and this book articulates that in a way I had not anticipated.

That is not to say that the arguments against parts of Lewis's thought are especially convincing to me - honestly, I still side with Lewis in every particular that the book addresses. But it's the first time I've known that, even if I didn't, it wouldn't matter. It turns out that the thing Mere Christianity does to us and for us is a bit more elusive and interesting than offering watertight arguments.

Also, this review makes it sound like the book emphasizes arguments against Lewis, but it definitely does not. Most of the book is, like he calls it, a biography of a book: the story of how the broadcast talks originated, got printed, and got compiled. It's a fascinating read.

Any additional comments?

MacKenzie's performance is perfect. I mean, really perfect. I listened to it twice back-to-back, largely because of the vocal performance.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Tammy
  • 24-05-19

Not Mere Christianity

This is not Mere Christianity but a story about how it was written. I was very disappointed

3 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 10-10-17

THIS is NOT Mere Christianity, but a book about it

I was rather upset when I finally figured out that the exceptionally long "forward" was not that at all, but indeed the entire book.

It's a book about the book and the author. While it was a very interesting background... I wanted the actual book!

Now since I'm short on money, I need to wait till next month when I get my new audible credit.

I think the fact that's it's not the actual book should be made a big more prominent up front. Just an idea.

19 people found this helpful

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  • D
  • 04-07-18

A book about a book

STORY

Having recently finished reading works by C.S.Lewis himself, I was ready for this George M. Marsden book about the reception of Lewis' book MERE CHRISTIANITY and why it is still popular.

The author gives a brief biography of Lewis then launches headlong into the origin of MERE. Lewis' book started as a wartime radio show that was transcribed for publication, codified and modified throughout the years.

If I can summarize why Marsden believes MERE CHRISTIANITY is still popular, it is for these reasons:

1. The principles were part of a popular BBC radio show.

2. The principles are and were meant to be ecumenical, not in the sense of watering down doctrine, but in finding common ground across denominations.

3.The tone is conversational enough not to turn you off, and the material intriguing enough to send you on the hunt for more information.

4.Since MERE was not meant to be the final word on Christianity, but a persuasive primer to think about this or that, many people who strongly identify with a denomination buy several copies to give away.

5. Lewis writes as one who once doubted the existence of the Lord and can address concerns of similar people, which seems ever more relevant as fewer people have studied scripture between that time and today.

PERFORMANCE
The performer can be a bit monotone from time to time, and has difficulty distinguishing between the author's words and quotes from others, but that induces you to pay careful attention.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-01-21

Excellent but not what I thought it was!

Thinking I was listening to the book/work Mere Christianity but it is rather a biography of CS Lewis. Still a wonderful read/listen but not the expected book.

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  • Michael Prince
  • 16-05-20

I feel duped

I very much wanted to listen to Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, not a book ABOUT that book. I feel like that should be much more clearly stated. I wasted 3 hours listening to this, thinking that it would EVENTUALLY get to the content. Don’t make the same mistake.

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  • Barbara Christensen
  • 19-10-19

Scholarly by design

This is a scholarly book review. The author did a decent job of not including his own bias in the review.

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  • Lee R.
  • 21-08-19

If you’re looking for CS Lewis’s book don’t purchase!!

Boy do I feel stooped, the title of this book is misleading! I thought it was the actual book “Mere Christianity”. In my haste I wasted a credit grrrr.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • MICHELLE DE GUZMAN
  • 16-04-19

unexpected and delightful

I had meant to download Mere Christianity, since I had not read it many years. I accidentally bought and downloaded this instead. I am really glad I made this happy mistake. I very much enjoyed it.

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  • robbhicks
  • 09-02-19

History of the Book

This audiobook provides the history behind Mere Christianity only. Although it gives a fascinating description of Mere Christianity, as well as Lewis' other writings, it does not include the content of the book itself.