Monday, 19 July 2010

Is 'Mere Christianity' possible, nowadays?

I think *not*.

I was 'converted' to Christianity - to a considerable extent, and to simplify the matter grossly - by my love of, and respect for, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis.

And from CS Lewis I was actually converted to Mere Christianity - which is, as I understand it, a core, non-denominational Christianity.

His idea was that you simply revert to the religion of your Childhood or cultural experience - which was in my case Anglicanism: the Church of England. And you attend the nearest church - in my case a mainstream liberal Anglican church. And (as a lay person) you stay clear of inter-denominational controversy and theological dispute.

This turned out to be impossible for a modern Anglican or Episcopalian (the international church). I was, against my wishes, thrown into the horrible maelstrom that is current Episcopalian politics. I tried to ignore the controversy, but the controversy would not ignore me.

Nowadays, honest Anglicans have to take sides - and the church I attended explicitly did take sides - the 'liberal' side - and it was not a side that I could support.

On looking into it more deeply, I rapidly recognized that Anglicanism (having progressively abandoned its common liturgy) has no coherence beyond its (theologically arbitrary) organization; and that all the major Anglican denominations were, in one way or another (and I do not want to go into this in specific detail - since I agree with Lewis that it is harmfully divisive - but I choose my words carefully) dishonest, incoherent, two-dimensional, legalistic and/ or lacking in courage.

So I was forced to look outside, and - luckily for me - after a while came across Eastern Orthodox Christianity (specifically the Russian Orthodox Church); which embodies essential truth and an ideal to which I can subscribe whole-heartedly (even as I acknowledge that to be devoutly Orthodox is way, way beyond my ability; and is even beyond my aspiration).

But my point here is that it now seems to be impossible, in practice, to be a 'Mere' Christian in the manner advocated by Lewis 60-plus years ago.

Or, at any rate, it seems utterly impossible in the current 'Episcopalian' Church.

Unfortunately, perhaps, specific Christian denomination does matter. At least to some people like me, it turns-out to matter a great deal.