Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
"Which of the books by Lewis Benson is my favorite?" The question came floating up in my mind as I was putting various titles into our estore. The task is not so demanding that it doesn't allow room for such reflections.
However, I could not decide.
Today, I have it. My favorite book by Lewis is whatever one I am currently reading. At the moment it happens to be The Truth is Christ, New Foundation Publication #5.
I have just finished Lewis' essay on The Religionless Christianity of George Fox. I have realized again this is information everyone needs to know. We are being told today that in choosing the Christian religion we are choosing Christ. But Lewis points out that the choice is between Christ and religion. It is either one or the other, not both. Lewis concludes the essay with the following:
In this brief outline of George Fox's conception of 'religionless Christianity' I have tried to show that he was not merely protesting against religiosity, institutionalism, authoritarianism, clericalism, sacerdotalism, credalism and the like, but rather that he taught that there is a fundamental antipathy between the spirit of prophecy and the spirit of religion. He is not protesting against an overdose of religion but he is putting forth the positive claim that the Christian revelation proclaims a new way to God apart from religion.
He envisioned the church as a fellowship of disciples. Obedience and suffering are the marks of this church. If we are to be Jesus's friends and disciples we must obey Him and bear His cross. It is not an easy, broad way that he offers us but a costly and narrow one.
In the recent history of the United States we have seen how the prosperity and popularity of 'religion in general' has not moved the nation to greater moral endeavour nor does it lead to the gathering of a people whose faith in and loyalty to its Lord gives it the power to obey the heavenly vision and resist social pressures of all kinds to conform to some other vision. There must be a way that is beyond religion.
In the recent wave of interest in religionless Christianity George Fox's ideas have not received much notice. Perhaps this is not so strange when we consider that in most theological circles Fox is usually classified as one of the sectarian leaders who opposed 'authoritarian dogma, formal worship, and clericalism.'
It may be as men become familiar with the idea of religionless Christianity, and as its more radical implications are quietly explained away, it will gradually recede from the public eye and take its place among countless other theological fads and fancies.
But, on the other hand it may be that all this discussion will move on to a deeper level in which men will begin to see that the cho8ice before us is, in very truth, Christ or religion. When this time comes the writings of Fox will again be studied with a seriousness such as they have not received since the seventeenth century.
Which of Lewis' books is/are your favorites?
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