[Review] Discussing Mere Christianity
Discussing Mere Christianity: Exploring the History, Meaning, & Relevance of C. S. Lewis’s Greatest Book. DVD, Zondervan, 2015. 170 minutes. ISBN 9780310699859. Kevin Brown, Discussing Mere Christianity: Exploring the History, Meaning, & Relevance of C. S. Lewis’s Greatest Book. Study Guide. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015. 120 pages. ISBN 9780310699842.
Discussing Mere Christianity—an eight-session DVD with accompanying discussion guide—introduces the viewer not only to the life of C. S. Lewis, but also to his most famous work Mere Christianity. Filmed both in the University of Oxford and at the Kilns (Lewis’s home), the video presents a wonderful collage of images that introduce us to Lewis as a scholar, and as a Christian. We do not encounter Lewis the apologetic heavy hitter. Instead we meet a Church of England layman who undertakes to discuss “Christian theology as I see it” with an audience of some one million BBC radio listeners in World War II England.
Host Eric Metaxas situates Mere Christianity in the context of Lewis’s own life and in the life of the world. In addition, Lewis scholars including biographer Alister McGrath, Wheaton’s Jerry Root, and study guide author Devin Brown of Asbury explicate Lewis’s thought making it accessible for a general audience. The study guide that accompanies the film provides groups questions that should facilitate a productive conversation about the book itself and also about the life of faith. It also
The purpose of the series is to introduce a new generation to this important work of popular moral theology. Lewis is a familiar name to many, yet the argument he makes in Mere Christianity was out of step with elite culture, certainly, and popular British culture as well at the time of its delivery as radio broadcasts. Traditional morality is often one of the first victims of war. War calls for the suspension of normal moral impulses such as the restraint against the taking of life. The suspension of part of our moral framework easily bleeds over into other areas of life and eventually much traditional morality is curtailed.
Lewis was aware of this tendency, and offers his Broadcast Talks (1942-1944) as a means of providing for the listening public an intellectually coherent and satisfying account of the nature of morality—that the moral law is built into the very structure of things by a higher power. And that this law of nature is most satisfactorily apprehended in the account provided by the Christian faith in its reflection on the Scriptures. In that these talks were addressed to a society experiencing the unraveling, not just of moral order, but of social order too, they serve us well in our present cultural moment.
An individual or group wishing to read and explore Mere Christianity will be well-served by this series. Not only is it well-produced, but it provides very succinct guidance that helps the reader trace Lewis’s argument the length of the work. More than that, it provides thoughtful material that connects the book with the life of the reader and the times in which we live. I recommend this resource.
This review was originally published in Sehnsucht: The C. S. Lewis Journal.