One of the greatest thinkers and writers of the 20th Century was an Oxford and Cambridge lecturer: CS Lewis, famous for his Narnia children’s books. However, he mainly wrote for adults. In one of his books, Mere Christianity, he distilled down the essence of the Christian faith, stripped of the religious appendages that have accumulated down the centuries since Jesus’ life on earth. If you want to know what Christianity is all about, there is no better place to start than Mere Christianity. The book is divided into four ‘books’ and it’s well worth reading through to the fourth book, which starts like this:
‘Everyone has warned me not to tell you what I am going to tell you in this last book. They all say “the ordinary reader does not want Theology; give him plain practical religion.” I have rejected their advice. I do not think the ordinary reader is such a fool. Theology means “the science of God,” and I think any man who wants to think about God at all would like to have the clearest and most accurate ideas about Him which are available.’ (CS Lewis, Mere Christianity, Part IV, 1952)
The sciences try to work out what really is true; not depending on our likes, feelings and desires. Many say that matters that go beyond the material (the natural) into the supernatural can only be subjective, i.e. subject to individual choice. We hear the phrase ‘you have your truth, I have mine’, but that is a very shaky foundation. We may think that papering over the cracks will reduce conflict, but human societies have always worked better when people agree to disagree, while listening carefully to each other and being prepared to change their minds.
So, what do Christians believe is ‘the science of God’? A more recent writer, Bill Johnson, has put it this way: ‘Jesus Christ is perfect theology’. What he means by this is that, the person of Jesus reveals everything that human beings can understand about the nature of God. And, because Jesus is a human being, he also shows us what human beings are capable of.
Churches, when we look past their religious accretions, are communities seeking to discover more about God as he has revealed himself as Jesus Christ. And being surprised again and again that he comes out to meet us in the power of the Holy Spirit, as we draw near to him.
If you are reading this before Sunday 23rd June, do come to All Saints’ Church at 9:30am to hear another Cambridge lecturer, Chris Permberton speak about the essence of Christianity. You will be welcome every Sunday at 9:30am, to join a bunch of people finding out more about the nature of God as we worship him: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.