Denominations Are Like Rooms in a Hall

C.S. Lewis is amazingly helpful.  I have not always felt like this.  During my final year in seminary I took a class on Lewis and was tasked with reading all of his works.  My opinion of Lewis’ helpfulness changed from that point forward.  After reading all of Lewis my soul seemed to long for “the place where all the beauty comes from.” (Lewis quote) During that semester reading I screamed through Mere Christianity and decided that one day I’d return to it and linger in it for a while.  Well, this past year I’ve done it and read Mere Christianity 6 times, and each time was like opening a bag of treasure.  One of those treasures is Lewis’ idea about what denominations are like.

I hope no reader will suppose that “mere” Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions — as if a man could adopt it in preference to Congregationalism or Greek Orthodoxy or anything else.  [Mere Christianity] 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 in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals.  The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. For that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be) is, I think, preferable.  It is true that some people may have to wait in the hall for a considerable 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. And above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and paneling. In plain language, the question should never be: “Do I like that kind of service?” but “Are these doctrines true: Is holiness here? Does my conscience move me towards this?”  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.

We do life in the rooms, not the hall.  I fear that many Christians in our day live in the hall and therefore miss out on those “fires and chairs and meals” Lewis speaks of.  Where are you?  You know where you ought to be don’t you?  Get to it.  Find a room, live in it.