From Mere Christianity to the Church

I’m rereading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and once again I’m struck by his clear thinking and relevance for today. Lewis was known for promoting a “mere Christianity”. He believed he was called to speak to those outside the church about what made up basic Christianity rather than speak to the differences between churches (Lewis was an Anglican. There were some who wanted him to speak more about the differences he had with the Catholic church).

Because of this, many people mistakenly think Lewis was one who promoted a basic Christianity in which we do away with denominations and just focus on Jesus and the beliefs we have in common. Lewis actually thought it was important to move beyond mere Christianity and join a particular church. Here’s how he described it:

“I hope no reader will suppose that “mere” Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions …. 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 in 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.” (Mere Christianity, p. 11).
The hall is a fine place to enter the building, but to stay in the hall is to miss the heart of Christianity lived out in a particular community called the church.