Are you looking for C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity quotes? What excerpts capture some of the best ideas from the book?
In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis sets out to explain and defend Christian beliefs to a skeptical modern audience through a series of essays—originally delivered as a series of radio addresses in the United Kingdom between 1941 and 1944.
Keep reading for a few quotes from this classic book that are sure to make you think.
C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity Quotes
We’ve collected five of C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity quotes, along with some context and explanation.
“Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion.”
Lewis writes that, if moral laws are created by the highest power in the universe, this puts humanity in a terrifying position. Lewis argues that you ought to be worried—even afraid. However, this worry should inspire you, not to hide from God and moral laws, but rather to try to align your conduct with these moral laws. Your best response to this fear lies in finding the courage to commit yourself to a more virtuous life by submitting yourself to God.
“There is nothing indulgent about the Moral Law. It is as hard as nails.”
Lewis argues that morality is not something people invented, but, rather, is objective and universal—much like scientific claims about the material world. He pushes back against the idea that morals are something we decide for ourselves and are therefore malleable. Instead, he argues, morality is a fixed and universal truth, and we cannot simply declare what is right and wrong based on our own changing whims.
“The Christians are right: it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began.”
Lewis considers pride the worst sin of all. He offers two reasons why pride is so destructive:
1. Pride turns you away from other people. Lewis argues that, when you seek to put yourself above others, their achievements contradict your high opinion of yourself, resulting in jealousy and resentment. Pride will leave you isolated and destroy the natural bonds of community, friendship, and family.
2. Pride turns you away from God. The more arrogant you are in your own sense of right and wrong, the less capable you are of submitting to that higher power. Therefore pride turns you away from your relationship with God, and consequently away from the source of your virtue. Lewis argues that pride is the worst sin because it has the power to undermine all your virtues.
“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”
Christ lived in human form on Earth—therefore, Christ is simultaneously human and God. Lewis asserts that Christ’s dual nature allows him to set an example of perfect surrender. He lays out the following argument:
- Humans are not able to surrender perfectly, because they are imperfect by nature, and surrender is hard. Only God is perfect.
- Even though God is perfect, God is unable to surrender. Lewis writes that one can truly surrender only to something superior, and nothing is superior to God. Therefore, God cannot provide an example of surrender.
- Therefore, only Christ is able to provide an example of perfect surrender. He is able to surrender perfectly because he is God, and he is able to surrender at all because he is human.
“Give up yourself, and you will find your real self.”
Lewis argues that becoming a moral person requires surrendering your will to God. Because you are surrendering your will, becoming virtuous will inevitably require you to become a different person than who you would have become without God.
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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