Mere Christianity Book Study

Mere Christianity Book Study
C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity is a classic introduction to the Christian faith that shares Lewis’s
radio broadcast talks from World War II. The book study will cover the first two books
within and serve as an introduction to the meaning of the universe and what Christians
believe. The book study was designed for adults, but could also be adapted for high school
The book study is to help participants engage with their faith and explore the problem of
suffering, pain, and evil. Mere Christianity is an approachable book to help people begin to
engage with theology. Lewis wrote it as a logical argument for Christianity to a non-believer
and as such, it can be insightful for people of faith to learn how to speak their faith to
Each session is designed to run for one hour over the course of four weeks. The course does
require pre-reading of the chapters, so this will need to be communicated to the
participants ahead of time. The questions for each week should be printed out and shared
with the participants when they arrive. All quotes in the questions are from the 2001
HarperCollins edition.
The sessions can be held in a large group with chairs in a circle to allow for participants to see
one another and be able to share easily. The sessions end with participants sharing any
concerns and then a communal prayer to help foster a sense of the Christian community.
The group leader will want to prepare ahead of time, making sure to carefully read the section
to be talked about that week and go over the questions.
Participants will want to all have copies of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. Having the same
editions would be helpful, but not necessary. If financially possible, it would be helpful to
purchase copies of the book for the participants to have for their home libraries.
C.S. Lewis - Mere Christianity
Week 1
Book I: Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe
I. The Law of Nature
C.S. Lewis asks the reader what a totally different morality system would be like. What’s the
craziest one you can think of?
1. C. S. Lewis makes note of a tendency in humans of appealing to a standard of absolute truth
in quarrels and arguments. He calls this standard the Law of Nature or the Moral Law.
Before you read this book, would you have agreed that such a Law exists?
2. Would you have agreed that you also break that Law? Does Lewis’ reasoning change your
feelings on this? Do you think you are an exception?
II. Some Objections
3. Why does Lewis think that the moral law is not just a result of human instinct?
4. Lewis dismisses the idea that moral laws do not differ greatly from culture to culture, period
to period. But it sure feels like it though! What are Lewis’ reasons for this? Do you agree
with them?
III. The Reality of the Law
1. Do you think the Law of Nature as described by Lewis is real and not made by man?
2. Do you feel that Law “pressing in” on you? If so (or if not), does that come from your
religious beliefs or is it separate?
Think of radio or TV shows you have listened to that discuss controversial opinions that you
didn’t necessarily agree with. (Howard Stern, Bill O’Reilly, Rachel Maddow, or even a
Presidential Debate) Now put yourself in London in 1940. Would you listen to Lewis’ radio talks?
What would you think of him? Would you have a different impression then you do now?
Concerns and Prayers
C.S. Lewis - Mere Christianity
Week 2
Book I: Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe
III. The Reality of the Law **REVIEW**
C. S. Lewis observes a tendency in humans of appealing to a standard of absolute truth in
quarrels and arguments. This Law of Nature (or Rule of Right and Wrong) is NOT a law of
science (like the Law of Gravitation) because we (humans) constantly break it. It does not dictate
what humans MUST do but what human SHOULD and should NOT do. The Reality of this “Law”
is that there is something in our universe beyond scientific facts and figures. How else could
there exist the choice of free will?
1. Forgetting your personal religious beliefs and ignoring any abidance to our country’s laws….
Do YOU feel an external force “pressing in” on you, dictating a clear RIGHT and WRONG
choice in the face of a decision?
IV. What Lies Behind the Law?
In our quest to understand the Universe through Science, there is only one thing that we can
study from both inside and out: Humans. Anyone studying us from the outside would not
understand complicity to a Moral Law. Observation would only record what we do, not what we
ought do. If we try to search for evidence of a Creator of the Universe, no scientific observation
could hope to discover it, because it must exist outside the Universe. No more than an architect
of a house could be a wall or a staircase. (paraphrase, 24)
2. If aliens tried to study us, what are some things they could never understand? Could we
ever understand them as we understand ourselves?
V. We Have Cause to be Uneasy
If the Moral Law exists and there is somebody or something behind it then this “God” cannot be
soft or sentimental. If the universe is NOT governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts
are hopeless. If it IS, then we are working against it every day, and our case remains hopeless.
The very idea of a God is both sole comfort and ultimate terror. (31)
3. Enough of all this nonsense! Why is Lewis talking about all these Laws and Morals and
Things? What does this have to do with Christianity?!?
4. How does seeing God as Lewis does, as both our only comfort and the supreme terror
Concerns and Prayers
C.S. Lewis - Mere Christianity
Week 3
Tonight we’ll cover:
Book II: What Christians Believe
The Rival Conceptions of God
In which Lewis discusses the major divisions of belief in God.
1. The Invasion
There are two viewpoints regarding Good and Evil: Christianity’s and Dualism.
2. The Shocking Alternative
Spoiler alert: It’s NOT Ron Paul.
What are some things you like about Christianity? What selling points would you use if you were
a “door to door evangelist?” (Things to consider: Good and Evil, a “good” God always looking
out for us, Satan and the temptation of sin, Forgiveness of sins, freewill, Jesus, his teachings and
his death.)
How would you answer these if you were Clive?
1. We know that you were once an atheist, but now call yourself a Christian. What is the major
difference between the two viewpoints?
2. When dividing humanity into religions, you divide it into believing either a God is “good” or
righteous, or a God is beyond Good and Evil. The former is what Christians believe, the latter
you call “Pantheism.” Explain this.
3. What do you NOW think of your arguments against God? And what changed them?
4. Dualism is another concept you’ve talked about…that there are two independent powers
(one good, one bad) that are constantly duking it out in our world. Can you explain this?
5. It sounds like you don’t really buy this idea of Dualism.
6. Is Christianity really all that far off from Dualism?
God gave us free will…free to turn away from him and pretend he doesn’t exist! Why do you
think he took that risk?
Concerns and Prayers
C.S. Lewis - Mere Christianity
Week 4
Tonight we’ll cover:
Book II: What Christians Believe
The Shocking Alternative- Free will, Satan & Christ
The Perfect Pentinent – Hmm… How does that whole Atonement of Christ thing work?
The Practical Conclusion- or at least some sort of conclusion…
OPENING DISCUSSION: “Um, what did that guy say?”
The impact of Jesus suddenly coming to prominence has been lessened because we have heard
the stories so often. But the Jews must have truly flipped when he showed up and said “Hey
everybody, I’m the son of God! And all your sins are forgiven!” Humble and meek indeed. Put
yourself in the shoes of those Jews. What would you think? How would you react? Would you
take him seriously? What can WE learn from this viewpoint?
ACTIVITY TIME: Multiple Choice
At the end of chapter 3, Lewis gives us a multiple choice question of EXACTLY what we should
think of Jesus, then AND now. I’m tired of asking questions, so now it’s your turn! Break into 2
groups and come up with three possible answers to each of the following questions. When
done, the other team will take your quiz! Ready, set, GO!
#1: “Is it not frightfully unfair that [Salvation/ Repentance] should be confined to people who
have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him?” What is your answer? What is Lewis’
#2: “Why is God landing in this enemy occupied world in secret” instead of landing in force, and
dealing openly and directly with the Devil?” What is your answer? What is Lewis’ answer?
Concerns and Prayers