I wrote More Christianity as ‘a friendly explanation of the Catholic faith for Evangelical Christians.’ Of course, the title puns on C.S.Lewis’ famous book Mere Christianity and does so in a way that is not just a smart aleck pun. The ‘mere’ in Lewis’ title represents what he was trying to communicate: Lewis wanted to avoid denominational arguments and get down to the core of the Christian faith. He wanted to write a book to help people understand and accept the essence of Christianity.
In many ways this is a laudable approach and one which fits with the typical Protestant ecclesiology (although my more sarky friends say, ” ‘Protestant ecclesiology’ is a contradiction in terms.”) Be that as it may, the typical Protestant says that all denominations and congregations are provisional. They are a necessary aspect of Christianity that is man made and disposable. Thus Lewis wants to get past ‘all that denominational stuff’ to get down to the heart and soul of the Christian faith.
Whether such an enterprise is possible is debatable. After all, how can you have ‘essential Christianity’ without a church of some kind? The only way for this to be possible is for the core of Christianity to be an individualistic relationship with Jesus Christ. But is this the core experience of Christianity? No, because even if the personal relationship with Christ is vital, it cannot be mediated authentically to anyone outside the ministry of the Church.
In other words, the gospel has to be proclaimed from within the community of faith. As Catholics we uphold the truth that an essential part of the Christian experience are the sacraments and the steward and administrator of the sacraments is Christ himself working through his body the Church. However, even given the Protestant assumptions, one cannot even ‘get saved’ or ‘accept Jesus into his heart’ unless the gospel is preached and the invitation given from and through members of the Church. Evangelism cannot take place in a vacuum.
Therefore ‘Mere Christianity’ must include a church of some sort, and Lewis admits this in his introduction. He explains that becoming a Christian is rather like entering the hall of a large house, and then you have to choose which side room (or denomination) to belong to. I have always expanded that metaphor to say that becoming a Christian may be like entering an entrance hall, but becoming a Catholic is to find that the ‘side room’ you’ve chosen is the lobby of a great country mansion, and the next step is to go up the grand staircase and enter the mansion itself–with countless rooms full of splendid furniture, antiques, paintings and works of art–not to mention the sumptuous gardens and grounds…
So in More Christianity I wanted to challenge the Protestant minimalism and argue sweetly that ‘Mere Christianity’ is only okay as a starting point, and that we should not be content with ‘Mere’ when we can have ‘More’. ‘More Christianity’ is, of course, the Catholic faith.
My argument in the book is essentially, “Why have ‘mere’ when you can have ‘more and more and more’ Christianity?” Therefore, in each chapter we go through some aspect of the faith like justification or sacraments or authority or the Bible or the saints or the Blessed Virgin Mary and show how Protestantism is minimalist and reductionist and Catholicism does not deny what good things Protestants affirm, it simply affirms much more that is Scriptural, Traditional and Historical about the faith.
More Christianity is available as part of the summer book sale. Why not purchase some copies for yourself and maybe a parish study group? It also makes an excellent gift for that non-Catholic family member or friend. Offer it to them and say, “This book helps explain Catholicism in a friendly way. Why not read it and see what you think?”
Click on the link in the blog sidebar to purchase, and remember the summer sale deal: $5.00 rebate on each first book purchase (or you can choose to have a free copy of my little book How to Be an Ordinary Hero) If you buy more than one book you get a $3.00 rebate on each additional book.
PS: The copies available from my website are the first edition–not the recent second edition published by Ignatius Press.