C. S. Lewis was a British writer and Christian apologist. Described as one of the most influential Christian writers of the twentieth century, his classic Mere Christianity is arguably the best popular written book on Christianity from the last century.
Here, I put together the 30 best quotes from this masterpiece.
If you’ve never read Mere Christianity, I hope you do. Regardless to say you are missing a lot.
1. “I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait.”
2. “We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. We have all seen this when doing arithmetic. When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start over again, the faster I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistake. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on.”
3. “God is the only comfort; He is also the supreme terror…comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth — only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.”
4. “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line…of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too — for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies.”
5. “Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning.”
6. “Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently He thought it worth the risk.”
7. “When you are arguing against God you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on.”
8. “Human history — money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery — is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy…God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”
9. “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. 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 patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
10. “Fallen man is not simply man imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms.”
11. “To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?”
12. “God will invade. But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realise what it will be like when He does. When that happens, it is the end of the world. When the author walks on to the stage the play is over.”
13. “God is not deceived by externals.”
14. “I cannot learn to love my neighbour as myself till I learn to love God: and I cannot learn to love God except by learning to obey Him.”
15. “A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way.”
16. “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.”
17. “It was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”
18. “If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.”
19. “The great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not.”
20. “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.”
21. “This world is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there is a rumour going round the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life.”
22. “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.
23. “Never, never pin your whole faith on any human being: not if he is the best and wisest in the whole world.”
24. “The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self — all your wishes and precautions — to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead.”
25. “The question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when He made us. He is the inventor, we are only the machine. He is the painter, we are only the picture.”
26. “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of — throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
27. “It costs God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things: but to convert rebellious wills cost Him crucifixion.”
28. “The only things we can keep are the things we freely give to God. What we try to keep for ourselves is just what we are sure to lose.”
29. “One of the dangers of having a lot of money is that you may be quite satisfied with the kinds of happiness money can give and so fail to realise your need for God. If everything seems to come simply by signing checks, you may forget that you are at every moment totally dependent on God.”
30. “Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”