Saturday, September 20, 2008

Our House. In the Middle of our Street.

Well, I was hoping to take a little siesta from all things controversial and do a five-part review of Kreeft’s Love Is Stronger Than Death, but alas! it appears that you all have no appetite for smooth waters (excuse the mixed metaphor, it’s late). So anyway, once the comments turned from Kreeft’s treatment of death as a stranger to the grammatical issue of whether quotation marks belong inside or outside the comma—well, needless to say the writing was on the wall.

I hope to interact with Horton’s People and Place once I’ve got some of it read, but in the meantime I’ll bait the hook by shamelessly piggybacking on my pal Mike Brown’s discussion of C.S. Lewis’s description of the church as a big house with many rooms, all connected by a hallway. The rooms, Lewis says, are our denominations and confessional traditions (there’s a Baptist room [with no beer], a non-denominational room [whose walls everyone refuses to acknowledge], and a Presbyterian room [stocked with Arturo Fuentes and single malt]). The hallway, on the other hand, is what Lewis calls “mere Christianity” (you know, those “essentials” that we all supposedly recognize and agree upon). So although we spend lots of time in our respective rooms, we also venture out into the hallway to chat with our various housemates.

Some questions that we may want to tackle include: (1) Does the illustration even make sense? Does “many rooms = one house” even correlate to “many denominations = one church”? (2) Who gets to determine where exactly the hallway is? Does “mere Christianity” include infant baptism? How narrow is this thing anyway? (3) If the hallway is defined by the ecumenical creeds, does that include all of them, or just the ones we like? (4) Can we see this house from the street, or is it one of those “invisible” houses?

And we would be remiss, of course, if we failed to ask whether this house has a “Roman Room” in it, or if Rome’s is a different kind of structure altogether.

And if so, which was built first?