Worth Reading - 5/22

The term “mere Christianity,” of course, was made famous by C. S. Lewis, whose book of that title is among the most influential religious volumes of the past one hundred years. Since 2001, more than 3.5 million copies of Mere Christianity have been sold in English alone, with many more translated into most of the world’s languages, including Chinese. We think of C. S. Lewis as an apologist, but he was also an evangelist. Many skeptics and unbelievers have come to faith in Jesus Christ by reading C. S. Lewis. One of these was the late Charles W. Colson. “I opened Mere Christianity,” Colson said, “and found myself face-to-face with an intellect so disciplined, so lucid, so relentlessly logical that I was glad I never had to face him in a court of law. . . . As I read, I could feel a flush coming to my face and a curious burning sensation. . . . Lewis’s words seemed to pound straight at me.”

Yet, despite such persuasiveness, Lewis and his “mere Christianity” have been criticized across the spectrum. Some conservative evangelicals have found Lewis wobbly on certain doctrines (like biblical inerrancy)—not to mention that he smoked a pipe and imbibed a few pints at his favorite pub. For their part, some Catholics have lamented the fact that, despite his Anglo-Catholic proclivities, Lewis preferred to sail on the Thames rather than the Tiber. What is needed, these critics say, is “more” not “mere” Christianity. What did Lewis mean by “mere” Christianity, and is it still a useful term today?
Hudson Taylor is best known as a 19th-century pioneering missionary to inland China. He became a Christian at 17 after reading an evangelism tract. On September 19, 1853, Taylor left England for China. After an arduous ocean voyage of nearly six months, Taylor arrived in China for the first time on March 1, 1854, at the age of 22.

The missions society founded by Taylor was ultimately responsible for bringing more than 800 missionaries to China. They began 125 schools, directly resulted in some 18,000 Christian conversions, as well as more than 300 stations of work with more than 500 national helpers in all 18 provinces of China. If Hudson Taylor were evaluated by his life, mission work, and legacy, he would easily be declared a success. Yet Taylor’s unflappable and absolute reliance on God marks him as one of the great figures in Christian history.
Tyr is a fairly recognizable name among Scandinavian people and Norse enthusiasts, but doesn’t have much mainstream recognition. This is likely due to the fact that he hasn’t starred in a Marvel movie (yet), and that there’s really only one prevailing myth about him (which we’ll get to in a bit). This lack of surviving Tyr-centered tales is surprising, as he’s the “guarantor of justice” and sometimes even called the boldest of the Norse gods — one who inspires heroism and courage. With that pedigree, you’d think there would be more myths surrounding him. Well, at one time, there probably was.

Prior to the Viking age, the Northern Germanic people had a similar set of gods and goddesses. They were more primitive, however, and not as fleshed out. In that pantheon, Tyr was perhaps the chief god, and went by the name Tiwaz. He was one of the war gods, and seemed equivalent to the Roman Mars. Like Tyr, his primary characteristics were honor and justice and courage. By the time of the Vikings, however, the centrality of Tyr/Tiwaz was supplanted by Odin and Thor. This tells us something of the different cultures. In the Germanic world of the early and mid-100s, battle was crucially important. Courage and bravery in war was something deeply foundational to a man’s life.

When the Vikings gained prominence, that foundation changed a little bit. Martial courage was certainly still valued, but the Norsemen were raiders and pillagers rather than soldiers on a battlefield. They took seaside ports by surprise with their longships, and quite simply outmuscled their foes. So a standard that encompassed wisdom, cleverness, and strategy, coupled with pure strength, took hold — the chief characteristics of Odin and Thor. Thus Tyr took a backseat, relegated to being a minor god.

4. A new video from the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics abut finding fulfillment in your work today, whatever your work is: