10 April 2008

the faith (4)

Charles Colson, The Faith (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008).

Chapter Four: The Truth

"The Christian believes that humankind can know truth - that is, the way things really are - through the Bible and. . ." in nature, through reason, and through conscience (57).  In this next chapter of The Faith, Charles Colson examines the nature of truth within the ongoing work of the church in culture.  It is a good chapter, one which will serve as a good primer for laity who have not been introduced to the apologetics surrounding absolutes.  Perhaps the only statement I did not care for was this, "Remember, we accept that the conscience is written on the heart not because the Bible makes it so by saying it, but because the Bible reports that God made humans this way" (57-58).  I understand the sentiment, but the wording makes this very difficult not to read as circular reasoning.

Otherwise, the chapter is well done and exhibits strongly much of Colson's work in the field of apologetics and outreach (i.e. prison ministry).  He reminds/introduces the reader of the alarming rate at which confessing believers do not hold onto absolutes nor engage the Scriptures before challenging the church to reclaim its role of proclaiming truth into the world.

While he might be right at attributing much of the difficulty for the emerging generation to accept truth-claims to an environment of postmodernity (62), it is quite clear as well that much of the failure needs to be found within the church itself.  "This conception of church life and the failure to teach doctrine do nothing less than institutionalize agnosticism - the inability to know the truth - within churches themselves" (62).  Unfortunately, this adequately describes much of what has happened within western Christianity.

But there is also challenge to the emerging believers, many of whom do not wish to pay attention to the ins and outs of doctrine, but who simply want to work for the gospel.  While such drive is admirable and exemplary for the many congregations who have failed to be missional in their focus, Colson's thoughts in this chapter give strong warning to this behavior if left unchecked: "But if the creeds I believe are false, then my efforts have been totally misplaced; I cannot be sure that my deeds, however noble, are really good" (63).

The final section of the chapter provides six reasons 'Why Truth Matters.'
1. truth matters because the heart of what we believe is at stake.
2. without truth the gospel is perverted
3. rejection of truth results in biblical illiteracy
4. rejection of truth leads to ethical confusion
5. the rejection of truth undermines cultural development
6. rejecting truth leads to false gods

In each of these six areas, Colson expounds and provides a discussion which goes to the heart of our culture.  Never one to shy away from topics which many find difficult or embarrassing, Colson cuts to the heart of the matter.  Again, a great primer for newcomers and a solid reading for pastors and church leaders.

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