Lewis on Denominationalism

From My Bookshelf May 30, 2009

Earlier, I posted an excerpt from the preface of Mere Christianity. Here is another quote that beautifully captures my thinking.

Lewis begins by saying that his book is a hallway which introduces the many rooms of the various denominations. He notes that some will have to wait in the “hall” while they explore the “rooms”. But in the mean time, “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.”

But it’s the next paragraph two paragraphs that should be most noted, especially for American Christians,

And above all you must be asking which door is the truth one; not which please you best by its paint and paneling. In plain language, the question should never be: ‘Do I like the kind of service?’ but ‘Are these doctrines true: Is holiness here? Does my conscience move me toward this? Is my reluctance 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 all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. This is one of the rules common to the whole house.

In my local church, our growth over the last 10 years has been transfer growth. That’s fine, but when you have a congregation full of people who have bailed on one church and transplanted to another, the question becomes, “Why?” I hope and pray and the answer is, “Because this church gets it right most of the time.”

Sadly, “what is right” seems to be low on the priority list of those seeking (or those staying in) a church home. This is ironic because what will make a church a place of refuge and growth for anyone is if they know, deep in their soul, that there is truth in that church.

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