Studium Theologicum Salesianum
Salesian Pontifical University : Faculty of Theology - Jerusalem Campus

“Mere Christianity” and
“Jesus Before Christianity: The Gospel of Liberation”


1 March 2017, STS-Jerusalem

In the late afternoon of the 01/03/2017, the students of the STS had the pleasure to listen to two of our fellow students who presented books they had read and synthesized. It was an exciting and enriching moment listening and asking questions to our two presenters. In the first place we had Dominic Kapatamoyo, a Missionary of Africa third year student, who presented a book “Mere Christianity”, written by C. S. Lewis. It is organized into four sections, based on several sets of talks that C. S. Lewis gave on BBC radio in the early 1940s. According to our presenter, the first part which he named as Book 1, had the title “Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe." Here the author argues for the truth of Christianity based, not on Scripture, but on reason and logic. He states at the end that… “human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. . . . They do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts according to the author are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.” In Book 2 which he called “What Christians Believe,” Dominic stressed that Lewis discusses various views of Good and Evil and of God, defending, of course, the Christian position. He does not shy away from difficult subjects such as why a good God would allow evil in the world or whether Jesus was truly God incarnate. He went on further to present Book 3 entitled “Christian Behavior.” Here, he covered topics such as morality (including social and sexual morality), virtue, marriage, forgiveness, love and hope. Finally, he presented Book 4 called “Beyond Personality: Or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity.” According to Dominic, the author concludes by getting into the deepest theological waters in his work. He wrestles with complex issues such as the three-in-one nature of God, His relationship to time, and how humans can become sons of God (the nature of salvation). In conclusion, our first presenter underlined the writing of the author and his controversial views on Christianity and evolution. He asked whether spiritual redemption might not be the next step in man’s evolution, as Dominic quoted him, “If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Facts. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about.” 

After a brief session of question and answer, we had our second presenter Olivier Ndayikengurukiye, also a third year Missionary of Africa student. He presented a book written by Albert Nolan, entitled: “Jesus Before Christianity: The Gospel of Liberation.” Nolan was born in 1934 in South Africa. He is a Roman Catholic Priest who joined the Dominican Order in 1954. He divides his book into four parts: In the first, he talks about Catastrophe, in the second about the Praxis, in the third about the Good News and finally in the fourth part, he talks about Confrontation. In his presentation, Olivier made a clear point that the author intended to write a practical work rather than theory or academia. The core of the presentation held that in his book, Albert Nolan indicated that he used the historical–critical method. He emphasises that the aim of this book is not to make the reader a Christian, but rather to let him discover that the life and message of Jesus have a universal character. Olivier further pointed out that the book does not address only those who believe in Jesus, but also every human person. For this reason, any person can and is invited to read this book which “is designed to be read by any person from all walks of life” according to Olivier, in accordance with the author. It was the hope of the author that after reading the book, one of the conclusions may be to have faith in Jesus. However, he insists again that this is not the aim of this book. His interest is in “the man Jesus as he was before he became the object of Christian faith” (pg. 1), the historical Jesus who lived in the Holy Land in the first century A.D. The book tries to see Jesus through the eyes of his contemporaries.




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