Book Review: The Faith
While Chuck Colson has written at least eleven other books, The Faith is the first one I have read. Obviously, I do not know how this latest effort stacks up against his previous work. Overall, this is a very good book. There are several things I really enjoyed and appreciated about it. There was only one thing that I truly did not like.
Colson writes the book with a laudable goal. He wants to help believers (and unbelievers) to understand “what Christians believe, why they believe it, and why it matters.” Like C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, Colson describes the contents of the book as “those essentials that all true Christians have always believed”.
The Faith is divided into two parts. The first is simply about “God and The Faith”. Realizing that we live in a post-modern age that wallows in relativism, Colson understands the need to lay the groundwork of demonstrating the existence of God and the reliability of His Word, as revealed in the Bible. In these chapters, Colson lays out a simple and well thought-out case for the existence of God. He then goes on to lay out a brief history of how we got our Christian Bible and demonstrates its reliability.
Colson then takes the next step. If you accept the perfectly reasonable (as laid out by Colson) that God is and that He has spoken, you can then affirm that there is truth. In our current society, this idea that there is truth is critical. Why does this matter? Why does truth matter? Colson gives his view of what happens when the church and society abandon or reject the truth.
The remainder of part one deals clearly, simply, and biblically with the fall, man’s sin nature, and sin in general. He then describes God’s answer to this problem with a clear description of the Gospel. Colson closes the section with a chapter on the Trinity and the importance of this Christian doctrine.
While part one describes the foundation of our faith and what, or more correctly who, we can have faith in, part two describes the integration of our faith and our life. Again, Colson describes the plan of salvation and describes the new nature that Christians have been given. He describes reconciliation with God and pleads for unity within the Church. His description of the Church is a beautiful picture of the classical marks, the mission, and the character of the Church.
As Mr. Colson describes the integration of faith and life, he sees one of the major tasks of the believer as to help transform the world. He sees this as part of the command to be holy. He describes the life of holiness as both spiritual and physical. Included in this life are repentance, reforming our desires, renewing the mind, and acts of charity. I think that throughout history, believers have tended to move to one or the other end of the spectrum. Either holiness is described as a purely spiritual endeavor or it becomes a social work. Could Colson be right? Shouldn’t holiness be both?
The final chapters of The Faith deal with issues that are clearly close to Colson’s heart. There is a chapter devoted to the sanctity of life and another chapter regarding justice. Colson closes the book with a description of the greatest threat that the Christian church and western civilization have ever faced. This is the treat of Islam, radical and otherwise. He lays out an outline of how we got here and how we need to respond.
The only major negative remark I would make about the book is that it is too ecumenical. I think that Christianity has a pretty big tent. If you lay out what it takes to be considered (biblically) a born-again Christian, there is a lot of latitude for other doctrinal issues. Mr. Colson makes room for some that I believe whose doctrine is incompatible with biblical Christianity. He includes Protestants, Roman Catholics, and the Orthodox churches in his label of “Christians”. Colson also is a leader of the group known as “Evangelicals and Catholics Together”. Several times in the book much emphasis is made to equate all of these as Christians.
Aside from this complaint, I would recommend this book to anyone. For the believer, it is an excellent resource to help distill Christian doctrine to its simplest terms. For the unbeliever, the plan of salvation is clearly presented.
If you have read this book, what are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with my conclusions? Please share.