Reading Classics Together
Tim ChalliesTim Challies, a self-employed web designer, is a pioneer in the Christian blogosphere, having one of the most widely read and recognized Christian blogs anywhere (www.challies.com). He is also editor of Discerning Reader (www.discerningreader.com), a site dedicated to offering thoughtful reviews of books that are of interest to Christians. He is author of The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, published by Crossway.
- 2008 Nov 19
I’m inviting you to read one of the classics of the Christian faith with me. Read on to find out more…
To this point the “Reading Classics Together” effort has gone very well, at least in my opinion. Every week we’ve tackled together just a short portion of one of the classic texts of the Christian faith. In this way we’ve read through J.C. Ryle’s Holiness, John Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Temptation, A.W. Pink’s The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross and Jonathan Edwards’ The Religious Affections. We’ve had hundreds of people participate by reading the books together and discussing them each week (though, inevitably, I think many more people begin each of the efforts than finish them and many more people read than comment!). All along we’ve been reading some great works—books many of us have always wished to read but books few of us have ever made time for. And now it is time to decide on the next classic we’ll read together.
Through the first four rounds we have bounced from a more modern work to a more ancient one. We’ve gone from Ryle to Owen, Pink to Edwards. Now that we’ve finished Edwards and have slogged through his brilliant but difficult Affections, we’re ready to move forward in time to try something a little easier. And the next classic we will tackle together is one that should prove a far easier challenge: C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. This is regarded as a classic apologetic work that stands, even 55 years later, as a superior introduction to the Christian faith. It is a book that has been so widely quoted that I’m quite convinced that many of us have read most of it in other works!
Here is my disclaimer in which I hope to head off the inevitable critiques. I think we’re all aware that C.S. Lewis held to the odd point of strange theology—unbiblical theology. So as we read this book we’ll be appreciating it for what it does so well, but we’ll also be ready to take note if and when what Lewis teaches does not accord with Scripture. The purpose of Reading Classics Together is not only to read books we agree with entirely, but to read books that have become Christian classics, whether for good reasons or bad! In this case I’m convinced there will be far more gold than dross.
Let’s count on beginning with the Preface and Foreword on December 4. That gives you just over two weeks to find a copy and read the first few pages. After December 4 we’ll proceed at a pretty good clip. The book has over 30 chapters but we’ll read several chapters a week (many of them are just a few pages long) and try to work through it quite quickly. But we’ll be sure to move at a reasonable pace so everyone can keep up, even through the holiday season.
Mere Christianity is very widely available. It has gone through many printings in both hardcover and softcover, can be found in e-book, audio book and, I think, even on YouTube. I’m sure you can also find free versions online, though I believe these (and the YouTube versions) would be unlicensed and therefore either illegal at worst or pseudo-legal at best. Just about every used bookstore will have a few copies in stock. So if you have a couple of dollars to your name, you’ll be able to join in the fun.
If you are going to participate, simply find a copy of the book and get reading!
Here are links to three of the places you may shop (and in each case feel free to hunt around the sites as they probably have it in multiple versions):