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What Christians Believe

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The Essentials Explained Master storyteller and essayist C. S. Lewis here tackles the central questions of the Christian faith: Who was Jesus? What did he accomplish? What does it mean for me? In these classic essays, which began as talks on the BBC during World War II, Lewis creatively and simply explains the basic tenets of Christianity. Taken from the core section of Mere The Essentials Explained Master storyteller and essayist C. S. Lewis here tackles the central questions of the Christian faith: Who was Jesus? What did he accomplish? What does it mean for me? In these classic essays, which began as talks on the BBC during World War II, Lewis creatively and simply explains the basic tenets of Christianity. Taken from the core section of Mere Christianity, the selection in this gift edition provides an accessible way for more people to discover these timeless truths. For those looking to remind themselves of the things they hold true, or those looking for a snapshot of Christianity, this book is a wonderful introduction to the faith.


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The Essentials Explained Master storyteller and essayist C. S. Lewis here tackles the central questions of the Christian faith: Who was Jesus? What did he accomplish? What does it mean for me? In these classic essays, which began as talks on the BBC during World War II, Lewis creatively and simply explains the basic tenets of Christianity. Taken from the core section of Mere The Essentials Explained Master storyteller and essayist C. S. Lewis here tackles the central questions of the Christian faith: Who was Jesus? What did he accomplish? What does it mean for me? In these classic essays, which began as talks on the BBC during World War II, Lewis creatively and simply explains the basic tenets of Christianity. Taken from the core section of Mere Christianity, the selection in this gift edition provides an accessible way for more people to discover these timeless truths. For those looking to remind themselves of the things they hold true, or those looking for a snapshot of Christianity, this book is a wonderful introduction to the faith.

30 review for What Christians Believe

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cori

    I had this teacher for Pathophysiology in nursing school who could take the most complex, convoluted diagnosis and teach it in a way that most elementary school kids could largely understand. I will forever remember her class on cardiac tamponade, in which she took a hair tie and taught us the concept in three seconds flat. I am continuously mesmerized by C.S. Lewis's ability to teach complex topics in ways that most elementary school kids could largely understand. And yet, he teaches it in such I had this teacher for Pathophysiology in nursing school who could take the most complex, convoluted diagnosis and teach it in a way that most elementary school kids could largely understand. I will forever remember her class on cardiac tamponade, in which she took a hair tie and taught us the concept in three seconds flat. I am continuously mesmerized by C.S. Lewis's ability to teach complex topics in ways that most elementary school kids could largely understand. And yet, he teaches it in such a way that the reader can't help but come away chewing on more. But also, this dude pulls no punches. A philosopher who runs circles around topics he's studied and validated in depth, he's not here to stroke egos. Nope. I'll review more in depth in an overall review of Mere Christianity. I'd rate this book a PG.

  2. 5 out of 5

    AJ Calhoun

    hold on, I'm going to go reread this like a thousand more times. hold on, I'm going to go reread this like a thousand more times.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Marcus

    This turned out to just be the second half of Mere Christianity but it was good to read again. C.S. Lewis' lecturing writing style isn't my favorite, but his ability comprehend and explain complex religious topics is amazing. This turned out to just be the second half of Mere Christianity but it was good to read again. C.S. Lewis' lecturing writing style isn't my favorite, but his ability comprehend and explain complex religious topics is amazing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    Deep thoughts and stirs your mind to what you really believe and for what reason. "You can be good for the mere sake of goodness: you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness. You can do a kind action when you are not feeling kind and when it gives you no pleasure, simply because kindness is right; but no one ever did a cruel action simply because cruelty is wrong-only because cruelty was pleasant or useful to him." "Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness." See what I Deep thoughts and stirs your mind to what you really believe and for what reason. "You can be good for the mere sake of goodness: you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness. You can do a kind action when you are not feeling kind and when it gives you no pleasure, simply because kindness is right; but no one ever did a cruel action simply because cruelty is wrong-only because cruelty was pleasant or useful to him." "Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness." See what I mean?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Patsy

    I really enjoyed reading this little book that concisely sums up and explains many Christian beliefs. C.S. Lewis does such a good job of it; he helped me see things very clearly.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Genevieve

    A little hard to wrap my head around at some points but overall really great points of view and theories from different sides. Very thought provoking.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Drew Fajen

    Good ole Clive writes in 98 miniature pages what Christians believe. You can easily read this book in one go. He begins a pattern of setting Christianity apart from other world views (pantheism, deism) and then after laying down a few bricks, he goes into some specifics (i.e. theories of the atonement) that are worthwhile, but seem a bit obscure. If his intent was to have this be the first primer on Christian beliefs, this book does a good job. But when read in context with the other radio talks Good ole Clive writes in 98 miniature pages what Christians believe. You can easily read this book in one go. He begins a pattern of setting Christianity apart from other world views (pantheism, deism) and then after laying down a few bricks, he goes into some specifics (i.e. theories of the atonement) that are worthwhile, but seem a bit obscure. If his intent was to have this be the first primer on Christian beliefs, this book does a good job. But when read in context with the other radio talks, this book is fantastic. It's clear that this is part of a greater whole. If you want Lewis' thoughts on What Christians Believe, this book won't be quite enough. Take the time and read not just this stellar section, but all of Mere Christianity. In fact, I recommend going from there to Problem of Pain, Miracles, and Four Loves. By itself, What Christians Believe is great, but not as satisfying, nor as fulfilling of a read as most of Lewis' work. Here is a taste of what you can look forward to when you read this book. “Besides being complicated, reality, in my experience, is usually odd. It is not neat, not obvious, not what you expect… Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed.” (21, 22) “Evil is a parasite, not an original thing.” (32) “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic— on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg— or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." (55-56) "We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed." (67) "A live body is not one that never gets hurt, but one that can to some extent repair itself. In the same way a Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble-- because the Christ-life is inside him repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death which Christ Himself carried out." (90-91)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Angela Blount

    My personal favorite of the essay collections included in Mere Christianity. "To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?" It is this piece of work that contains the famous "Lord, Liar, or Lunatic" commentary regarding Jesus. He makes his case with sharp wit and poignant sincerity--faltering in neither logic nor compassion. Lewis breaks down the foundational elements of Christianity in surprisingly few words, yet with remarkably impactful quality My personal favorite of the essay collections included in Mere Christianity. "To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?" It is this piece of work that contains the famous "Lord, Liar, or Lunatic" commentary regarding Jesus. He makes his case with sharp wit and poignant sincerity--faltering in neither logic nor compassion. Lewis breaks down the foundational elements of Christianity in surprisingly few words, yet with remarkably impactful quality of content. Each concept he explains is delivered with the imaginative force of multiple metaphors--striking from different angles with his vibrant word-pictures--in the obvious hopes of reaching the comprehension of a broader audience. His often lyrical prose leaves a resounding impression.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    It is no wonder that Lewis is one of the most quoted Christian authors in history. In the LDS Church, he is the most quoted non-LDS source by far. The content of What Christians Believe is an example of why that is the case. He takes a very conversational approach to numerous Christian topics, and many of them are inspiring and eye-opening. It is a short read, and if you can get it on audio, it is under 45 minutes long from start to finish—short enough to review numerous times and long enough to It is no wonder that Lewis is one of the most quoted Christian authors in history. In the LDS Church, he is the most quoted non-LDS source by far. The content of What Christians Believe is an example of why that is the case. He takes a very conversational approach to numerous Christian topics, and many of them are inspiring and eye-opening. It is a short read, and if you can get it on audio, it is under 45 minutes long from start to finish—short enough to review numerous times and long enough to provide a whole lot of subtance.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Coco

    This was a very good quick snapshot of the Christian belief system. He doesn't go into what denomination believes what, but rather explains what's common to them all. He argues the existence of God, that Jesus is God, all the way through why God had to become man. Beliefs are easily misunderstood when you're describing them to people, but this is very clear and firm. There's not really any room to be confused. (July 2009) This was a very good quick snapshot of the Christian belief system. He doesn't go into what denomination believes what, but rather explains what's common to them all. He argues the existence of God, that Jesus is God, all the way through why God had to become man. Beliefs are easily misunderstood when you're describing them to people, but this is very clear and firm. There's not really any room to be confused. (July 2009)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I love C.S. Lewis. His books suck me right in and make me want to think more about life and God and why we're here. This book is collective writings from Mere Christianity (fabulous book). He doesn't try to persuade you or offer help as to which church to join, but rather gives his thoughts on Christianity and what it means to be a Christian. I love C.S. Lewis. His books suck me right in and make me want to think more about life and God and why we're here. This book is collective writings from Mere Christianity (fabulous book). He doesn't try to persuade you or offer help as to which church to join, but rather gives his thoughts on Christianity and what it means to be a Christian.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Don

    all religions contain some hint of truth, sin of desiring to be like God, irony of free will to be very virtuous or evil, pick yourself up after each stumble, Christ operating thru us as Christians, choose right side now, take it or leave it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    The CD only takes one hour, but touches on many points. Remember that C.S. Lewis starts out from his position of being an atheist first, and a convert to Christianity. As usual, he writes with gentleness. Quite a lovely essay.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Micah Grant

    Really good explanation without getting too spiritual or mystical. Logical explanations from someone who previously was an atheist.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Jares

    Make no mistake, this is only a small portion of the bestseller by CS Lewis, MERE CHRISTIANITY. CS Lewis started life as an indifferent Church of Ireland member, converted to atheism in his mid-teens, and finally converted to Christianity "kicking and screaming (he was a very reluctant convert)." Later in life, he became a member of the Church of England and remained so for the rest of his life. Lewis says in this tiny volume that he has no intention of telling his readers which denomination of C Make no mistake, this is only a small portion of the bestseller by CS Lewis, MERE CHRISTIANITY. CS Lewis started life as an indifferent Church of Ireland member, converted to atheism in his mid-teens, and finally converted to Christianity "kicking and screaming (he was a very reluctant convert)." Later in life, he became a member of the Church of England and remained so for the rest of his life. Lewis says in this tiny volume that he has no intention of telling his readers which denomination of Christianity to choose, that is up to the conscience of each person. His desire, in this book, is to explain the rightness of Christianity (versus atheism). The amazing thing about Lewis is that he speaks with such clarity and logic, in this day of hyperbole and confusion. He explains the difference between Pantheism and Christianity, between Dualism and Christianity. In "The Shocking Alternative," Lewis gives the most profound explanation of God's will vs. our Free Will I've ever read. Overall, this is a moving treatise on Christianity.

  16. 4 out of 5

    David

    This little book (98 pages), is a selection of and contained entirely within Lewis' Christian Classic book, "Mere Christianity". This book contains appropriate illustrations and is written in simple enough terms that anyone can understand. "What Christians Believe" discusses Christian beliefs in subjects such as who God is, and all about his attributes; why Jesus died for the sins of humanity; the basic components of salvation and Christian living and more. Other than that, what can I say? This This little book (98 pages), is a selection of and contained entirely within Lewis' Christian Classic book, "Mere Christianity". This book contains appropriate illustrations and is written in simple enough terms that anyone can understand. "What Christians Believe" discusses Christian beliefs in subjects such as who God is, and all about his attributes; why Jesus died for the sins of humanity; the basic components of salvation and Christian living and more. Other than that, what can I say? This is CS Lewis. He is a genius and his books are among the most influential of all time. He has a knack for taking totally complicated issues and boiling them down where they do not seem complicated at all without over simplifying concepts. This is a good read. With the current climate where Christians are misunderstood as being haters, judgmental, or bigots, this is particularly timeless and very relevant in our time for anyone who wants to understand what Christianity is supposed to be all about.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Glen

    A beautifully composed collection that explores fundamental truths about sin, salvation and the work of Christ. Some of Lewis’ most well-known quotes are found in this book. I believe that every thoughtful Christian should routinely turn to the pages of those writers who possessed a capacity to broaden our perspective on the nature of God and the mystery of this faith journey. Writers like Chesterton, Fenelon, Guyon, Tozer, Bonhoeffer, etc. are the voices of wisdom there to help us hear more clea A beautifully composed collection that explores fundamental truths about sin, salvation and the work of Christ. Some of Lewis’ most well-known quotes are found in this book. I believe that every thoughtful Christian should routinely turn to the pages of those writers who possessed a capacity to broaden our perspective on the nature of God and the mystery of this faith journey. Writers like Chesterton, Fenelon, Guyon, Tozer, Bonhoeffer, etc. are the voices of wisdom there to help us hear more clearly God’s truth. Lewis certainly belongs among those luminaries and this book is a great starting point for those wanting to hear his voice.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    This book is actually just an excerpted part of Mere Christianity, containing just five of the essays derived from WWII radio addresses regarding the basics of Christianity. Lewis' writing and style of argument present the topics in an easy conversational style that informs and makes you think. This book also contains one of my favorite Lewis pieces, his "Lunatic, Liar, or Lord" argument concerning those who say Jesus is a great human moral teacher but not God. This book is a highly recommended This book is actually just an excerpted part of Mere Christianity, containing just five of the essays derived from WWII radio addresses regarding the basics of Christianity. Lewis' writing and style of argument present the topics in an easy conversational style that informs and makes you think. This book also contains one of my favorite Lewis pieces, his "Lunatic, Liar, or Lord" argument concerning those who say Jesus is a great human moral teacher but not God. This book is a highly recommended quick, enjoyable, and thought provoking read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kaylin Worthington

    As an audiobook less than an hour long, these short essays written by CS Lewis around World War II are extremely underrated. This whole book contains some of his most quotable lines regarding questions people have surrounding the doctrine of Christianity. With the use of simple analogies, he opened my mind and simplified something that many ride off as complicated. This is one of his greatest works!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Pug

    Whoa! There was a lot of information to digest in this book, but Lewis laid it out so clearly and concisely that it kept me totally engrossed and engaged. Absolutely Biblically-sound, yet he had a unique perspective on things. One example: real life and nature is weird, so don't be surprised that Christianity is weird too. lol Actually, I'm impressed that I was able to follow along with everything. :) Whoa! There was a lot of information to digest in this book, but Lewis laid it out so clearly and concisely that it kept me totally engrossed and engaged. Absolutely Biblically-sound, yet he had a unique perspective on things. One example: real life and nature is weird, so don't be surprised that Christianity is weird too. lol Actually, I'm impressed that I was able to follow along with everything. :)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Courtney Holmes

    This book is short but I did not find it to be an easy read. I found in bad to have a quiet space so I could focus and absorb the information. This is the first book I've read by C.S. Lewis. Probably not the best first choice as it was very intellectual. That being said, Lewis is very good at providing relatable examples for readers to understand the concepts being explained. I plan to read more of Lewis' writings because i did enjoy his writing style. This book is short but I did not find it to be an easy read. I found in bad to have a quiet space so I could focus and absorb the information. This is the first book I've read by C.S. Lewis. Probably not the best first choice as it was very intellectual. That being said, Lewis is very good at providing relatable examples for readers to understand the concepts being explained. I plan to read more of Lewis' writings because i did enjoy his writing style.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Forster

    Short but so so full of easy to understand explainations about the basics of Christian faith. These are the kinds of examples that stuck with me the most as a kid (from my dad), and although I walk away with so much to chew on myself, his way of taking super complex things and making them accessible is outstanding. One million stars. Also reminded why I listen to C.S. Lewis over and over. Seems like some of Mere Christianity was condensed here for a super short, super impactful message.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Leanne Riegel

    Very short and very sweet. This audiobook is about the length of a sermon, and about as nice of a reset and refocus as you can find. I enjoyed the concise writing style and the impactful metaphors Lewis uses to explain complex ideas in a very comprehensible way. You could use this book to jump into a thousand theological discussions, or you could use it to find solidarity in the core tenets that all Christians, and only Christians, believe.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alex Flores

    I didn't realize that this is an essay in Mere Christianity until I was almost finished with it! I thought it felt extremely familiar... Always love spending a bit of time with C.S. Lewis. As ever, I don't think he's likely to win over any non-believers with his arguments, but he's wonderful to listen to if you're already a Christian. I didn't realize that this is an essay in Mere Christianity until I was almost finished with it! I thought it felt extremely familiar... Always love spending a bit of time with C.S. Lewis. As ever, I don't think he's likely to win over any non-believers with his arguments, but he's wonderful to listen to if you're already a Christian.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ryan David Hall

    This was surprisingly good. And a real fast "read" too! I guess it is now the very first book that i have ever "read" by CS Lewis -- i say "read" because it was an audiobook. Which i tend to be able to consume a lot easier, rather than with my eyes. I bought it real cheap (on sale for $3) today on ChirpBooks.com This was surprisingly good. And a real fast "read" too! I guess it is now the very first book that i have ever "read" by CS Lewis -- i say "read" because it was an audiobook. Which i tend to be able to consume a lot easier, rather than with my eyes. I bought it real cheap (on sale for $3) today on ChirpBooks.com

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carla

    A very concise & logical way of explaining things that are difficult to explain by logic alone. While coming across as very logical, he also makes known the importance of faith in being able to believe.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Crain

    This was so good! I read this years ago and listened to the audio book during a long walk! I will be listening to this over and over! I am also telling some friends to read this. Such a wonderful way of explaining what we know of God, Creation, Jesus and Christianity.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nderitu Pius

    Profound!Revealing! Eye-opening! Worth the silence and the moment of meditation! Simply not simple!! Real yet not simple! Powerful and worth the read for the christian believer and the non-believer!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Myra Benedict

    This book is really good and I can read it 1000 times more .CS Lewis is a great a author .

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    Lewis is the bomb

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