A Jagged Contention: Mere Christianity

“I hope no reader will suppose the ‘mere’ Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions – as if a man could adopt it in preference to Congregationalism or Greek Orthodoxy or anything else. It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in…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.”

– C.S. Lewis – Preface to Mere Christianity.


Question:

What do you think of Lewis’ analogy of ‘mere’ Christianity being a hallway and creeds and existing communions being in their own rooms? Is this analogy useful? Or, does it present a sort of reductionism which allows us to think of some doctrines as primary and others as secondary?

Share your thoughts in the comments below

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11 thoughts on “A Jagged Contention: Mere Christianity

  1. Firstly, I believe Lewis is using the word “creed” the way Lutherans use the word “confessions.” He would consider the ecumenical creeds as hallway fare. Mere Christianity works as an ecumenical apology of sorts. It doesn’t substitute as a catechism or regula fide.

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    1. If you’re still in the hall, something that might be helpful is the study of church history. Phillip Schaff’s work was very helpful for me. I haven’t read all of it (it’s fairly exhaustive) but I have read the Apostolic Father’s and some of the Ante-Nicene Father’s. I’m reading the BoC now, so I’m taking a break from Schaff’s work.

      I used to be a Baptist, and my wife and I are attending a Lutheran church now and will probably baptize our sons soon and become members. One reason that my understanding of baptism and the Lord’s supper have changed, is that the contemporary Baptist position on these issues has no precedent in church history. Unless the disciples were terrible communicators and all of their followers misunderstood their teaching, there’s no way the apostles did not teach the Real Presence or Baptismal Regeneration. All of those who were taught by the apostles clearly believed these things. Some try to argue away passages of scripture that teach these doctrines. The problem is, practically no one in the history of the church disagreed on the Real Presence or Baptismal Regeneration for the first 1500 years of church history. Here’s a link to access Schaff’s work for free.

      http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html

      If you’re considering Roman Catholicism, try reading the Canons of the Second Council of Orange from 529 AD. The canons received official church sanction and they clearly taught justification by faith. If you read the canons, it seems like a pretty clear endorsement of Lutheran theology. Baptismal Regeneration, Original Sin, and Justification by Faith are all clearly affirmed here.

      http://www.reformed.org/documents/canons_of_orange.html

      I’m convinced that the conservative Lutheran Reformation got it right (at least on all of the important issues). What is great about Lutheran theology is that it preserves the teachings and traditions of the church. It understands the Bible the same way that Christians understood the Bible 1500 – 2000 years ago. The gospel and the sacraments are both preserved. If you go to Rome or Orthodoxy, you loose the gospel. If you go to Calvin, you confuse and muddle the sacraments. If you go to Zwingli or the Baptists, you loose the sacraments all together.

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      1. Thank you, I am studying church history although I have only gotten to 400 AD. I do appreciate the suggestions and will keep on my quest.I know nearly nothing about the Catholic reformation or the 2cd Vatican Council but see I have some learnin to do before I get there.Enjoying the Life, while on the Way & searching for the Truth.

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      2. It sounds like you’re looking into church history pretty deep. That’s awesome. I enjoy the subject a lot and wish that I knew more. Vaya con Dios, Amigo!

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  2. He means it is important to be in community. I appreciate that and I miss that. However, I and many of the “None”. answerers re: “Religion?” are still Christians alienated from corrupt institutions whose primary purpose, Survival, leads them to conceal horrors. (Most publically obvious in, but not confined to Catholicism.) I greatly admire Lewis, but count him unaware of this stuff.

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  3. “For it seems to me that confessors of the evangelical catholic faith must say, we are not talking about a point of view in the midst of many points of view. What we are talking about is we are talking about the catholic faith that ought to be believed by everybody. We want everybody in the world to come to this point, and we’re going to stand up and say it to everybody in the world. With whatever meekness we can, with whatever love we can, with whatever enticement we can, but we’re going to say it to the whole world.”

    Rev. Dr. Kenneth F. Korby; “Confession”

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  4. http://www.logia.org/audio-downloads/confession

    The quote is from this lecture Korby gave in Mankato, MN. I’ve scoured the internet for various audio and gotten anthologies with his essays through interlibrary loan. Much meat to chew on.

    I heard somewhere Peter Bender is putting together a compilation of his written work, but I don’t know if this true and if so how far along the project is at this point.

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  5. I think his analogy is useful, in a sense. If we understand that such a thing as right doctrine exists, then we cannot say that all rooms are created equally. However, I think there are minimum standards that one must adhere to in order to be considered a Christian. Those are house issues. If you agree on those issues, you’re in the house. If you disagree, you’re a heretic.

    Issues of secondary importance (like eschatology or the regulative principle of worship and how a person deals with adiaphora) define particular rooms within the house. Of course there is an answer regarding who is right and who is wrong, and disagreement on those issues may mean that we have to attend separate churches, but I don’t think someone should be considered a heretic if they hold to post-millenialism instead of amillenialism. One position is right, and one position is wrong (I’m not convinced either way), but getting it right doesn’t determine my eternal destiny.

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