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Tuesday, May 8 2012
C. S. Lewis: Can Faith Be Likened to a House?
One of the qualities that C. S. Lewis was blessed with was his keen ability to use ordinary language to speak to the "common man." When he spoke over the BBC in the radio broadcasts that would become the book, Mere Christianity, he was brilliant in using images that every man and woman could relate to easily. Early on in the Preface of the book Lewis uses the imagery of the "home" to describe the place where faith is discovered and nourished. He tells us that the "mere" Christianity that he is putting forward is not to be understood as an alternative to the creeds of historic Christianity, but rather he likens it to a home with warm fires, meals, and companionship. He writes:
"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 it the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try various doors, not a place to live in...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 as camping. You must keep on praying for light..."
Then, in the last paragraph of the Preface, he pens a paragraph that embodies why Lewis, and Mere Christianity, continue to have a lasting influence among spiritual seekers in the twenty-first century due to his winsome style. He concludes: "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."
What do you think Lewis is attempting to communicate by his imagery of the house with a hall, rooms, fires and meals? Why is such language so winsome to those who are seeking spiritually?
If you would be interested in being part of a weekly conference call series I am hosting on the key ideas of Lewis's Mere Christianity, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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