For many years I've kicked around in my head the idea of Christian History Reading Group where people from the church could come together and read the works of our brothers and sisters who already make up part of the great cloud of witnesses. The idea has taken several imaginary shapes but one that it always comes back to is a gathering of people reading and discussing "Christian classics", books that have stood the test of time by being an enduring and encouraging witness to their authors' lives in Christ. In his introductory essay to a translation of Athanasius of Alexandria's short book, On the Incarnation of the Word of God, C.S. Lewis writes about the "familiar smell" that he found when as an unbeliever he read old Christian books as part of his studies. He kept running across something that bound writers across ages and countries and church bodies even when the work wasn't obviously Christian. Of course later in his life he came to call that "mere Christianity". But it is true. We have older brothers and sisters with strange, intimidating names like Athanasius or Thomas Aquinas or Augustine or Julian of Norwich who all testify to our same older brother Jesus Christ. I want for us to meet those family members and get to know them. To hear how God has inspired them and to experience their familiarity and their strangeness. They don't all think or speak or even believe the same way we do in every particular but they are filled with the same Holy Spirit that fills us.
To that end, I'd like to get together with other people that want to know their family better and read these classics. We would choose a book to read and then meet back together in a month to discuss it in person and choose a new book. Obviously we all will need encouragement in this effort and that is why this blog exists. It is a place where we can ask questions, share information about what we're reading, share passages that have confused or encouraged us, and share information about the group. If you live in or around Lake County, Illinois and you're interested in joining in leave a comment here.