Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Where There Are Fires and Chairs and Meals!—Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

The hallway is only for passing through to where life is lived in full.

C.S. Lewis wraps up his preface to Mere Christianity by expressing this desire: "I hope no reader will suppose that 'mere' Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communionsas 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....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.  For that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be) is, I think, preferable.  It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at.  I do not know why there is this difference, but I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait.  When you do get into your room, you will find that the long wait has done you some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise.  But you must regard it as waiting, not camping.  You must keep on praying for light: and, of course, even in the hall, you must begin trying to obey the rules which are common to the whole house.

"And above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and paneling.  In plain language, the question should never be:  'Do I like that kind of service [or music]?' but 'Are these doctrines true:  Is holiness here?  Does my conscience move me towards this?  Is my reluctance to to knock at this door due to my pride, or my mere taste, or my personal dislike of this particular door-keeper?'

"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....That is one of the rules common to the whole house."

Highlights from the Preface to Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Click here for a clear view of how this Preface relates to the whole book.

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