The Purpose of The Faith
What Charles Colson writes is very profound and clearly relevant, yet maintains accessible simplicity. The Faith (Zondervan 2008) is no exception. His purpose is to address the great need today for foundational yet thorough and articulate instruction in basic Christian truths. He aims to delineate and explain the unifying beliefs of the Christian faith. “We call the core beliefs that have united Christians through the ages orthodoxy, or “right belief.” Understanding this faith, once entrusted for all, is critically important today, for we live in a time…when Christians and the civilization they helped to build are under assault” (p. 25). This book is really an adult catechism.
Important doctrines are covered
He begins with a reasoned defense of the existence of God, the authority of the Bible, and the possibility of revealed truth. Colson says, “If we do not take truth seriously, we will not take God seriously” (p. 61). He works his way through the heavy lifting of involved in explaining origins of right and wrong and the problem of evil. He then gives a well-reasoned presentation of the incarnation, the Trinity and the salvation that Christ offers to us. I learned that the doctrine of the Trinity is under attack not only from traditional opponents on the fringes of Christianity, but also from Muslim apologists seeking to win converts on college campuses. So it is even more important that Christians understand the doctrine of the Trinity.
A highlight for me
One of the highlights of the book for me was a little section called Sharing in Christ’s Suffering which was a part of chapter 8. In this section Colson says, “Suffering belongs to our calling as Christians… So the real question is not whether we will suffer but how we will react to adversity when it comes. We can see it as a miserable experience to be endured, or we can offer it to God for his redemptive purposes. This is the great truth Christians know: God will always use what we suffer for Christ’s work of redemption if we let him.” (p. 125).
Unity and holiness are important
As expected from Colson there is also an excellent section on the church including powerful admonitions toward the unity of the church. I’m a firm believer that the church today is far too fractured and needs to listen to leaders such as Colson who are encouraging like-minded Christians to move closer together.
The book also is strongly pro-life, believing that a culture of life is part of the essence of Christian faith. Colson also says, “Holiness doesn’t stop with our own condition but carries over into actions that affect the world around us” (p. 166). The only suggestion I might have for the book is that it needs more on the victorious view of sanctification. Of course this lack is because Colson comes from the reformed tradition and I come from a Wesleyan holiness tradition that is more optimistic about the results of sanctification in this life.
I highly recommend it
I highly recommend this book. In the first place, Colson is a first-class apologist for the Christian faith. His own faith and the illuminating illustrations he chooses make his books inspiring to read. You can sense that in quotes like this, “The Christian church and the truth it defends are the most powerful life- and culture-changing forces in human history” (p. 21). Secondly, we live in a day when most Christians are sadly ignorant of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. They need the instruction that this book will provide. This book should be required reading for every elder, deacon, adult Sunday school teacher, small group leader or administrative board member in every Bible-following church in America.