C. S. Lewis: Faith Is Commitment, Not Blind Belief

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Mere Christianity" by C. S. Lewis. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here.

If belief is based on evidence, is it still faith? How does C. S. Lewis define faith?

According to C. S. Lewis, faith is reasoned devotion, not thoughtless adherence. In Mere Christianity, he identifies faith as one of several Christian virtues that God calls people to follow, and he explains how it makes a difference in your life.

Continue reading for a brief discussion on faith, as Lewis sees it.

C. S. Lewis on Faith

According to C. S. Lewis, faith is a commitment to and trust in Christian teachings in the face of daily distractions and doubts. Lewis pushes back against the widely held idea that faith entails a blind or thoughtless belief in Christian doctrine. In fact, he writes that you should not believe in Christianity if you don’t think the evidence supports it.

Lewis also asserts that faith requires you to greet life with hope and optimism. To accept Christianity is to believe that there is something better in the next life and that the power of good is greater than the power of evil, both of which give you a reason for a hopeful outlook.

Does Faith Require Evidence?

Lewis argues that faith is not the same thing as blind acceptance. However, many of Christianity’s most strident critics argue that faith and blind acceptance are one and the same. For example, Richard Dawkins, writing in The God Delusion, argues that belief without evidence is the “essence” of faith.

There are two contrasting schools of Christian thought on whether faith requires evidence: fideism and evidentialism.

Fideism advocates faith without evidence. It is the belief that faith is opposed to reason, but of the two, faith is superior. Scholars associate this perspective with the 17th-century French philosopher Blaise Pascale. He argued that religion is mysterious and unknowable by nature, and therefore it is senseless to expect rational proofs for religion.

Evidentialism is the belief that religious doctrines must be supported by evidence. Evidentialist Christians argue for the existence of God and the veracity of Christian doctrine with logical proofs that don’t rely on presupposed Christian faith. By stating that you shouldn’t believe in Christianity if you don’t accept the evidence, Lewis aligns himself with evidentialism.
C. S. Lewis: Faith Is Commitment, Not Blind Belief

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of C. S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Mere Christianity summary:

  • A look at the objective nature of morality
  • What it means to surrender yourself to God's moral law
  • What Christ means to Christian practice and how to follow his example

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *