find out what is going on inside my head. i know it is a little scary, but you will be safe. i promise.

Monday, March 23, 2009

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.

Redefining Marriage

The Webster Dictionary is arguably one of the most culture-defining items ever produced in American history. Its continued popularity as the dictionary of choice is a testament to its quality. In its earlier days, it was almost a Christian dictionary, as it reflected a largely Christian American culture. Many of the definitions were illustrated by specific passages of Scripture. The newest version continues the shift away from the dictionary's historical roots. Like the mainstream media, the Webster Dictionary has redefined marriage. This story was picked up by World Net Daily. Among the first reports of this was this video on YouTube.

Is this a case of the editors of the dictionary using an agenda to shape culture? Is this a case of the editors observing culture and reflecting it in how they define marriage? What do you think?

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Newest Mac?

This is for all my friends who think that on the eighth day, God created the Mac. Enjoy.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bailout Bumper Sticker

In light of our bailout crazy congress, available now is the bumper sticker above.
These are available from the Tennessee Republican Party.

Love the Sham-Wow (or at least the song)

If you are up late at night, I am sure you are familiar with the sham-wow infomercial. If you are not, you clearly should be. But as good as the infomercial is, this song is better. Check it out.

2008: Year of the Study Bible

I think that anything we can do to make the Bible more likely to be read, the better. For example, my oldest son has a New Testament that is designed and published like a magazine for boys. I don't love this particular translation or edition, but if he will read it, that is what is most important.
If you can imagine a niche Bible, there is likely a publisher that already produces it. I think the thing I am a little uncomfortable with is the idea that we look for a Bible that reflects our own style. We want a Bible that is about us. Sounds a little selfish, does it not? On the other hand, that does not mean we all need to use only a black, leather-bound copy of the same version.

These niche Bibles often market to the consumer to a degree that it is easy to forget that we are talking about the Word of God. These Bibles often make it difficult to understand the Bible in its original context and turn out to be little more than a fashion accessory.

On the flip-side, Bible publishers seemed to return to what they do best in 2008. They produced high-quality study Bibles. Study Bibles seem to be intended for a more general audience, the whole church. I like study Bibles. I think they do a phenomenal job of assisting the reader glean more insight from his reading. I have at least five study Bibles. They are the NIV Study Bible, the Life Application Study Bible (NIV), the Scofield Study Bible III (ESV), the ESV Study Bible, and the NLT Study Bible. The last two were just released in 2008, and are among the best. My major concern about the ESV Study Bible is that it could almost as honestly by titled the Extreme Calvinist Study Bible. My personal favorite, both as a translation and as a study Bible is the NLT Study Bible. It does a great job of taking into account the various orthodox interpretations and let the reader interpret the text rather than leading the reader to the editors' interpretation.

Do you use a study Bible? Which one(s)? What are your preferences in a particular edition of the Bible?