Welcome to our first ever Mama Bear book review! This is where we will give you a digest of carefully chosen, wonderful books. These essential reads will not only equip you and your cubs as you work to fulfill 1 Peter 3:15 but will surely enrich your personal spiritual life and walk with Christ, as well.
It’s so important that we participate in The Great Conversation. Thinkers and writers who have come before us and contribute today provide a wealth of resources if only we would seek it out. Isn’t it nice that we don’t have to start from the beginning to answer life’s toughest questions? So much progress has already been made and is ready for us to cultivate. Knowing where we are as created beings in our discovery of Christ’s truth is essential if we are to equip our cubs well. But having cubs in the first place makes reading and thinking beyond the realm of stained baseball uniforms and screaming toddlers a bit challenging!
That’s where we come in. Allow Mama Bear Apologetics to navigate the seas of published works for you and present only our most thoughtfully curated list for your narrow margins of time. Let Mama Bear Apologetics navigate the seas of published works and curate a list of texts worthy of your time. #CLAW #RoarLikeAMother Click To Tweet
Each review will use the Bear CLAW acronym:
C – Context (who wrote it, when, why, and for what audience)
L – Lessons (an overview of the areas the book delves into)
A – Applicability (what impact does this have on you and your kids?)
W – Worthiness (why reading this book is – or isn’t – worthy of your time)
But wait! Start Here for Extra Credit
Before we delve into our first selection for review, I’d like to suggest the extra credit option of reading about reading. While the books we’ll survey will be digestible, they undoubtedly belong to a certain genre of reading, and that requires a readied mindset. The renowned Mortimer J. Adler provides excellent guidance for the preparation of such a journey in his famous book, How to Read a Book. Trust me, the advice presented in Adler’s essential guide isn’t demeaning nor sarcastic. His text is a wonderful, essential tool that will greatly benefit readers of all academic comfortability.
And now, I am thrilled to present our very first Mama Bear book review selection: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.
C – C O N T E X T
Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963) was an author, theologian, and Oxford professor. As he explains in the preface, this book is essentially a transcript of talks he gave on British public radio in 1942, 1943, and 1944. Europe at that time experienced World War II, the likes of which the world had never seen. As bombs shattered windows and shook the ground, so too were the foundations of faith shaken. People wondered, as Janusz Bardach put it, how “man [could be] wolf to man.” Brits gained fresh, personal perspective on the Problem of Evil, wondering how a good God could allow such atrocities to occur. They questioned the meaning of life, our ability to know anything at all, and were brought to the general reckoning of humanity’s deepest questions and desires. Where the citizens of Great Britain posted question marks, Lewis’s calm, professorial, and grandfatherly voice was there streaming in through their radios to answer. Mere Christianity was as much a text for those times as it is for any, and as such is considered essential Mama Bear reading.
L – L E S S O N S
The brilliance of Mere Christianity is Lewis’s ability to bridge the gap from high theological thought and jargon and distill it into layperson terms. Its 226 pages cover the essential root beliefs of Christianity and how we can know they are true – in other words, the “merest” or most foundational elements of the faith. It is divided into four parts (apart from the Preface and the Table of Contents, which I urge you to read when starting any book, but especially academic ones).
BOOK 1: RIGHT AND WRONG AS A CLUE TO THE MEANING OF THE UNIVERSE
Book 1 exposes us (in a conversational, easy-to-read way) to what Lewis calls “the Law of Human Nature.” This is the idea that there is an absolute concept of Right and Wrong, it governs mankind, and individuals can choose whether or not to obey it. What Lewis does here is expose us to the Argument from Morality, one of my favorite arguments for the existence God. The Argument from Morality is Romans 1:20-esque in its approach because it is so fundamentally observable. We experience a sense of right and wrong, it seems to be something that exists whether or not someone recognizes that it does or agrees with it, and thus, it must have a source outside of and greater than ourselves.
BOOK 2: WHAT CHRISTIANS BELIEVE
And now the question presents itself: what or who is that source? Book 2 answers this question as it gently walks Lewis’s reader through the myriad options for conceptions of God. The conclusion to this section is a beautiful, stirring explanation of what it means to recognize Who Christ is and the magnitude of new life in Him that means so much more and reaches so far beyond ourselves than simply following His teachings.
BOOK 3: CHRISTIAN BEHAVIOR
Book 3 cleverly overviews what it means to live as a Christian as we relate to God, ourselves, and to those around us. Here Lewis builds upon the foundations he’s set in the previous two books and applies the overarching truths we can discover about God to the daily and real grind of living as a human being who recognizes those truths. Lewis discusses social and sexual morality, marriage, forgiveness, charity, hope, and faith. You’ll also discover which sin Lewis considers to be the one to watch out for the most.
BOOK 4: BEYOND PERSONALITY: OR FIRST STEPS IN THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY
Lastly, Book 4 once again zooms out in its focus to push back out of daily living and into a combination of the close-up and broader perspectives of Christian concepts. In this section, we read Lewis’s wonderful thoughts on God and time, the Trinity (a section for which I am always particularly grateful since this seems to be one of the more difficult concepts in Christianity), salvation, Christ’s sacrifice, and God’s will and its relationship to our freedom of choice. These are each concepts that usually require an entire book in and of themselves, yet Lewis is able to take his reader by the hand and guide her right through in just a few pages! It’s amazing, and he was and is such a gift to the Kingdom.
A – A P P L I C A B I L I T Y
Because of its foundational nature in grounding the basics of the Christian faith, Mere Christianity will come up time and again in your future reading, discussions, and guiding of your cubs and their tough questions. The genius of this book is that for many it raises questions you didn’t know to ask. It then provides reliable trains of well-developed thought that have both built upon the work of theologians before Lewis and stood the tests of academic rigor since. Mere Christianity gives us classic arguments like Lewis’s “Liar, Lord, Lunatic” thought test for assessing who the historically recognized person of Jesus Christ was (for more on this, you can listen to AAB Episode 5: Is C.S. Lewis’s Liar-Lord-or-Lunatic Argument Unsound?). What is offered within the pages of Mere Christianity wasn’t just applicable when it was released in 1952. We can apply it in our lives today.What you'll find in Mere Christianity is as applicable today as it was in the 1950s when it was written. Click To Tweet
W – W O R T H I N E S S
Lewis himself converted from atheism as an adult, and Mere Christianity showcases the satisfying truths that compelled him to accept Christ as King, and the completion of the Christian worldview brought to his deepest most unanswered questions as a human. Wherever you are in your journey to the cross, whatever background or upbringing you carry with you, and whatever your comfort level in asking the tough questions of the faith and looking behind what may unopened doors for you, Mere Christianity is both a safe place to land and an exciting launch pad into future learning. It is sure to enrich your life upon first reading or seventeenth. Because of what you will gain, you will not regret depositing time into reading it. As my own Mama says (and take this with a grain of salt, pun intended), “You’ve got five books in the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Lewis.” Nothing else could sum it up, better, Mom.
Now go read and #roarlikeamother.
Have you read Mere Christianity? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
Hillary Short (aka, the “other” Hillary!) lives with her husband, son, and dog in Texas Hill Country. She teaches Senior Thesis at a Classical and Christian school and recently achieved her childhood dream of living in a home with hardwood instead of carpet.