Have you heard of this book?
The Faith: Given Once, For All (Zondervan 2008) by Charles Colson (and Harold Fickett).
Evangelicals are responding that this is one of the best books yet written by Chuck Colson. Of course, I think many evangelicals in America have lost much of their understanding for what comprises historic, evangelical Christianity; hence, Chuck sees the need for a book like this. America neo-evangelicalism needs a complete overhaul. The foundational nuts and bolts have been torn from their roots.
This opening quote intrigued me.
Other authors whose work has profoundly influenced me: the various and highly accessible writings of John Stott, like Basic Christianity; the work of J. Gresham Machen who, seventy-five years ago, courageously defended the faith in a great book entitled Christianity and Liberalism” (10).
My buddy is currently reading Christianity and Liberalism, too. Good book. Much needed for today.
Here is the alarming part:
Over the past two years, whenever I had the occasion, I asked mature believers to name the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. Many of them looked surprised, even perplexed. Of the twelve critical doctrines that I have identified in this book, most of my friends, admittedly unprepared, could name only four, at best five. One or two actually told me they thought that doctrine only confused, that we should simply focus on Jesus. Pastors were not much better informed than the laity; Barna found that 49 percent of Protestant pastors reject core biblical beliefs (29).
For only a cursorily overview, I think that Chuck relied too much upon the historic creeds of the church for authority. For one of the very last statements in his book (appendix) is troublesome to me:
It is the duty of serious disciples to examine all such statements as this in the light of Scripture (Acts 17:11) and the doctrinal guides and aids of their own traditions. (emphasis added)
I realize the book is not a systematic theology, but I would have enjoyed more scripture and less story narrative in my hunger for concrete, biblical exegesis to under-gird and mightily support the fundamentals of the faith.
Secondly, I reject the 1997 Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) document where Chuck was one of the master architects. Chapter 8 needs a full book explanation on justification by faith alone.
Make sure you read the appendix wrap-up.
The appendix is entitled “The Faith Given Once For All” and highlights fourteen doctrines in the book’s chapters: God Is – Chapter 2, He Has Spoken – Chapter 3, The Fall/Original Sin – Chapter 5, The Incarnation – Chapter 6, The Cross and the Atoning Death of Christ – Chapter 6, The Bodily Resurrection – Chapter 6, The Nature of God/His Sovereignty – Chapter 7, The Trinity – Chapter 7, Justification by Faith/Conversion – Chapter 8, Forgiveness and Reconciliation – Chapter 9, The Church – Chapter 10, Sanctification/Holiness – Chapter 11, Dignity of Human Life – Chapter 12, The Return of Jesus and the End of History – Chapter 13.
I see fourteen. Don’t you?
The number fourteen reminds me of the fourteen fundamentals in following the prophet, provided by Ezra Taft Benson. What do you guys think of those?