John Stackhouse, from Regents College Vancouver, expresses in this article a very critical position towards evangelicals supporting a LGBT lifestyle.
Sixty years ago, London publisher Geoffrey Bles first released a revision of three sets of radio talks by an Oxford literature don. The book was called Mere Christianity, and there was nothing “mere” about it. A somewhat disjointed set of C. S. Lewis’s views on a wide range of theological, philosophical, and ethical matters, the book became the most important and effective defense of the Christian faith in its century.
As Mere Christianity (henceforth “MC”) goes into its seventh decade of publishing success, rivaled still by no other apologetic, it’s worth taking a look at its unlikely success.
Why It Shouldn’t Have Worked
The first reason why MC should not have worked is rather basic: It doesn’t deliver what its title promises. It does not do even what John Stott’s classic Basic Christianity does—namely, outline at least the basics of evangelicalism’s understanding of the gospel. Given the title’s own promise and Lewis’s express intent of offering “mere Christianity,” we get something substantially less than that, as I think Puritan pastor Richard Baxter, from whom the phrase comes, would affirm.
Furthermore, MC offers not only less than “MC,” but also more: Lewis’s own opinions about domestic relationships, marriage, and gender; and his particular take on the vexed question of God and time (which, in my view, has powerfully perpetuated Christian Platonism and its “timeless God” among many people who have never read Plato). The danger here is the danger that resides also in C. I. Scofield’s dispensationalist notes to his famous Reference Bible. (I recognize that this is perhaps the first time anyone has claimed that Lewis and Scofield are peas in a pod, but they are both remarkable publishing successes.) The danger is that the secondary and idiosyncratic are bundled with the primary and universal, and taken in together by the trusting reader as being “simply Christian.” Continue reading “John G. Stackhouse Jr. on the ‘Mere Christianity’ Phenomenon”
John Stackhouse is one of the authors of this book. Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism, to be published later this month.
Here is a spicy quote, to wet you appetite and make sure you read the blog post:
Brother Mohler, however, was someone I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting but whose considerable shadow I have judged to both bless and blight the landscape of American evangelicalism, as it has his own denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. Since Al seems to imply at every turn that his position is the one all right-thinking Southern Baptists, evangelicals, Christians, and human beings ought to hold–since he thinks it is simply the gospel truth–and since I am pretty sure it isn’t that, and also since I try to engage in public controversy only with people who are in some sense public figures who have invited such controversy by asserting their views as normative in public…well, then how could I turn down the opportunity to interact with Brother Al? I couldn’t, so I didn’t.