Mere Christianity

As I was reading one of Lewis’s best works, I thought about the title for a moment; Mere Christianity.

The early church would never call it this. To be a Christian meant to risk your life. Someone in discussion with me recently told me about a book they were reading about the early church. He said, when you became a Christian, you were not allowed to go to church until you had changed your ways, became holy. This was to preserve the existing church and to reduce the number of spies intending to infiltrate the church. In this sense, Christianity was anything but mere, it was actually the opposite of mere, something like significant. To be part of a movement that may demand your life was not an easy choice, yet many made the choice and the movement stands to this day. How many movements of this significance have lasted through centuries of persecution, confusion, and ignorance? (I’ll save this for another post)

After I have said all this, I do not think I would actually interpret the statement Mere Christianity in the sense that it is insignificant, but rather in the sense that it is so simple, so blunt, we should not miss it. How the rules changed from having to prove your beliefs through holy living to being able to speak simple words in a prayer I do not know, but most agree today that this is all that needs be done. How could something so great be so simple while so many miss it?

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4 thoughts on “Mere Christianity

  1. I like the historical look at “mere Christianity.” We definitely don’t consider the history of the church enough when we “do” church today. From the very first circles of believers, many accepted Jesus knowing that they would be kicked out of the Jewish synagogue, the very fellowship and protection under which they were raised (read John’s gospel with this Jewish/Christian clash in mind). And of course the persecution got even worse as the movement grew. Are we even talking about the same Christianity today?

    I believe that Lewis’ title “Mere Christianity” was, as you may know, intended to identify the fact that he was defending Christianity generally (not Catholicism, Anglicanism, etc.). That is, he sought to defend “merely” Christianity as a whole rather than a specific strand of it.

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  2. “Are we even talking about the same Christianity today?” This is something that I was really trying to get at. If we look and try to understand the earliest part of the movement and possibly the most pure, how can we even compare that to western Christianity today?

  3. We really can’t fairly compare, nor can we feel guilty because we are not persecuted in the same way. I think it is our job to learn from their radical commitment to the lordship of Jesus.

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