Mere Christianity

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Food for thought for those who believe in tribal identity, either by race or gender or whatever; but those of us who believe strongly in individual rights and the importance of self-reliance also need to pay attention to this quote from Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis:

“The idea that the whole human race is, in a sense, one thing—one huge organism, like a tree—must not be confused with the idea that individual differences do not matter or that real people, Tom and Nobby and Kate, are somehow less important than collective things like classes, races, and so forth. Indeed the two ideas are opposites. Things which are parts of a single organism may be very different from one another: things which are not, may be very alike. Six pennies are quite separate and very alike; my nose and my lungs are very different but they are only alive at all because they are parts of my body and share its common life. Christianity thinks of human individuals not as mere members of a group or items in a list, but as organs in a body—different from one another and each contributing what no other could. When you find yourself wanting to turn your children, or pupils, or even your neighbors, into people exactly like yourself, remember that God probably never meant them to be that. You and they are different organs, intended to do different things. On the other hand, when you are tempted not to bother about someone else’s troubles because they ‘are no business of yours,’ remember that though he is different from you he is part of the same organism as you. If you forget that he belongs to the same organism as yourself you will become an Individualist. If you forget that he is a different organ from you, if you want to suppress differences and make all people alike, you will become a Totalitarian. But a Christian must not be either a Totalitarian or an Individualist.”

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10 thoughts on “Mere Christianity”

  1. Paul (the apostle and writer of most of the New Testament) wrote much the same in 1 Corinthians 12.

    It truly boggles the mind to see, and understand that we are both individuals and yet not entities to ourselves. We are individuals but belong to a whole, and when one part is in need, or hurt, or happy, or what-have-you, we are too.

    This is one instance where Paul Simon got it all wrong. He wrote, “I’ve built walls
    A fortress deep and mighty
    That none may penetrate
    I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain
    It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain
    I am a rock
    I am an island”

    We’ve all built those walls and fortresses, but we do need friendship, and it’s accompanying pains, we need it’s laughter and tears, and it’s loving. We are not rocks or islands. That is a lonely, painful existence.


    (PS, I sent you an email at your contact address.)

  2. I hope in a future blog post that you elaborate on how this passage has influenced your thoughts.

  3. Hello JP,

    I can’t agree more. In the Qu’ran (holy book of Islam) God commonly addresses the children of Adam, or mankind, emphasizing that we are one human family, for example, 7:26:

    O ye Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover
    your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness,— that is the best. Such are among the Signs of God, that they
    may receive admonition!

    However, to make sure we don’t think in terms of collectivism or racism, we have in 49:13:

    O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).

    Gerald from Canada

  4. Thank you for this Jameson! The Seventh -Day Adventist Church teaches the same thing. One of our Pastors here where I live said a few years back that in the last days just before Jesus comes to take His people home with Him, that there won’t be just any one religion, it will be a group of people brought together by their love for Christ, their love for one another and their watching and waiting for His return.

    Thank you again for writing this!! I believe the same way.

    Love to you and Darleen!! Have a Merry Christmas!!!!

    Bonnie L Whitlatch

  5. JP
    I love what you write whether I agree or not. You are quite the wordsmith. And you inspire me to write almost daily.
    How do you get pen to paper every day? I struggle with it.
    Your biggest fan
    As always,
    Ken from Dallas.

    1. …ich stimme zu , gut formuliert…Gottes Segen für euch …viele Grüße Manuela
      (google translate):
      …I agree, well formulated … God bless for all of you … best regards Manuela

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