Monday, October 8, 2012

Mere Christianity 1

For me, the purpose of going throug the book together is as much about the conversation as the content of the book.  So I think it is ok to go slow.  Whenever something is worth discussing, I hope to make a note of it.  That said, let's start with some insights from the preface.

Lewis makes some interesting statements in the preface regarding his approach in communicating the essentials of the faith.  The analogy he makes is of a hall with many rooms.  The essence of the 'mere' Christianity is the common thread of faith that unites all believers, regardless of creed or denomination.  He says, "If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I have attempted."  He goes on to explain the difference between the essentials and the particulars.  "But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals.  The hall is the place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in.  For that purpose the worst of rooms (whichever that may be) is, I think, preferable." (preface, xv).  The rooms are the various expressions of the Christian church (Baptist, Methodist, etc.). 

Before diving into the meat of the book, I think these statements are worth some interaction.  For the purpose of discussion, let me throw some questions out there: 

1.  Is the illustration accurate?  Within Christendom are there universal principals that supersede any particulars?  I agree that what unites us as believers is often more prominent and significant that the doctrinal perspectives that divide us (baptism for example).  However, I'm not sure I completely agree with Lewis.  He intentionally included Catholics and Protestants in his example.  I'm not sure I can wholly agree with that.  It seems that Protestants and Catholics are not just two different rooms off the same hallway (though there are always exceptions on the individual level), it seems they are two different hallways.  There are fundamental differences in the way we understand salvation (which gives us access to the "hallway" in the first place).  Lewis acknowledges he is not a theologian and prefers to leave such discussions to others.  I can accept that, but the illustration may not be as universally accurate as one might hope and pray.  What do you think?  I suppose it will be clearer (or not) as we read further. 

2.  I find the illustration useful in combating the idea that the hallway is where we should live.  I know a lot of people unwilling to make a commitment to a body of believers.  Is it true that the most undesirable of rooms is preferable to the hallway?  Since I believe we were created for fellowship, I agree with the statement.  But I also know a lot of people who have been hurt by the church.  We need to be honest that there are good churches and bad churches.  It is ok in my book for people to search for alternatives rather than just giving up. 

3.  How can such an understanding foster a sense of unity among churches?  Lewis finishes the preface by stating, "When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall" (xvi).  I think that the "rooms" only exist now, not eternally.  From God's perspective there is only one hall and one room (Eph 4:4).  In an increasingly hostile world, we need our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We need to know what unites us so we keep what divides us in perspective.  In that respect, the illustration is very helpful. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mere Christianity

My fantasy football league is going to read C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity together.  Since we will not meet weekly, the intention is for this blog to serve as a forum for discussion.  Since I get asked by people periodically about a book club, I'm opening this online forum up to any who wish to participate in our discussions.   If you are unfamiliar with C.S. Lewis he was actually an atheist who converted to Christianity as an adult.  He was Oxford educated and kept company with contemporary J. R. R. Tolkien.  Mere Christianity is Lewis' greatest apologetic work, defending the basics of Christian doctrine.  The book is actually a compilation of broadcast talks given by Lewis on the radio during WWII.  I know it will be an interesting read and will compel some lively discussion.  

Stay tuned for a start date (sometime in the next two weeks).  For now, get the book!  Locally, you can check the library or any bookstore.  I have some online links below.

Amazon, $10.19, Kindle, $9.68

Christianbook, $9.99

FREE PDF VERSION is available at
(I didn't have any problem viewing this on my laptop but for some reason would not open on my ereader??  You may have better luck.)