Over the past few decades Charles Colson has established himself as a thinker and advocate for the church, one who is passionate about how the people of God interact with the surrounding world in order for the Gospel to make a difference. I recognize that many who are familiar with Colson's work strongly disagree with a particular point or approach, but the fruit of his ministry and activity to equip the saints and challenge the church is undeniable and powerful. With this in mind, I have decided to work through his newest book, The Faith, over the next few weeks and make comments on it here.
What he sets out to do in this book is summarize the basic tenets of Christianity in such a way as to strengthen the body through a deeper engagement with primary theology. I could not agree with Colson that Western Christianity has lost its identity and calling, as it has largely lost its ability to think about faith. Thus, although many will quibble with points in this book because of its lack of thoroughness or expertise on every area, I want to approach it on its own merit: that it is a challenge to the church-at-large to renew its vision and presence by reconsidering its identity.
Chapter One: Everywhere, Always, By All
This chapter is largely introductory and almost serves as a continuation of the Preface, where Colson reviews the Amish schoolhouse shootings at Nickel Mines in 2006. (A side note: I appreciate Colson's reminder of this event as, sadly, not enough consideration of how the Amish community handled the situation was given by the evangelical community.) What this opening chapter does is set Christianity as "the enduring truth" in which the people of God proclaim the Lordship of Christ in this generation and in all of those to come. He provides an interesting 'time-travel' of five points of the Christian movement which demonstrate the diversity and unity of the gospel message (24).
What keeps the unity of the church is that which is labelled orthodoxy. Colson is right to point out how orthodox Christian belief has been increasingly under attack over the last few years by works such as Dawkins and Hitchens (among others), and even more so in the ongoing onslaught within the popular mainstream media. The influence of culture upon the church is what troubles Colson most, as trends within a postmodern culture have muddied the clear waters of the faith found within the church. The church, by and large (individual members, especially pastors), has failed in its ability to confront the world with the gospel and have thus allowed for the erosion of orthodox belief.
It is therefore the goal of this book to help reverse such trends by tracing basic Christianity from the beginning (once again).