12.04.2008

Mere Christianity

So I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I just finished reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis for the first time.

I was disappointed with parts of it, and completely blown away by other parts of it. It certainly is a very quotable book, and I thought that rather than offer any sort of in-depth review, I would instead share a good quote from time to time.

One of my favorite quotes in the book actually comes from the preface, where Lewis explains that his purpose in writing the book isn’t to get people to join a particular church, but rather to accept the basic tenets of Christianity. To make his point, he describes Christianity as a hall with several rooms, and says that his goal is to get people to enter the hall, and to figure out which room to enter on their own.

On choosing which “room” to enter into, he says:
“And above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which one pleases you best by its paint and paneling. In plain language, the question should never be: ‘Do I like that kind of service?’ but ‘Are these doctrines true: Is holiness here? Does my conscience move me towards this?’ 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. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.”
I like that a lot.

4 comments:

Alex 12/5/08, 9:20 AM  

We often adopt such adamant allegiances to a particular "doorway" that we cannot accept any alternatives, even within a particular denomination. I find it terribly sad when congregations mock their neighbors' choice of "doorway," even in jest. I believe Lewis would believe that they are beloved of God, and they have followed their consciences.

I don't believe that church splits are always negative, and the same goes with denominationalism. [Sometimes, but not always.] If we could see beyond the semantics and remember that we are all Christians, following our consciences and selecting the right doorway as best we can discern, we would have a much easier time associating with our own brothers.

Angela 12/6/08, 12:41 PM  

that's beautiful. I haven't read that yet, but I did like The Screwtape Letters.

Luke 12/8/08, 2:35 PM  

Alex,

(1) I certainly don’t think that “all doorways are created equal” (and neither did Lewis), but I think the way we treat each other is crucial—If you’re in the “right room” but failing to live by the main rule of the house, that’s not a good position to be at all.

(2) To a degree, I agree with you about mocking each other…if it’s done out of cruelty or disdain, I’m not in favor of it.

But at the same time (maybe it’s just my personality) I mock people I’m close to all the time in good humor, and expect them to do the same to me. I think it would be nice if we had the kind of relationships with those of other “doorways” where the same was possible.

Luke 12/8/08, 2:36 PM  

Angela,

It’s kind of hit and miss, but I think it’s more hit than it is miss.

The good parts definitely make up for the not-so-good parts.

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