Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Book Review: The Faith by Charles Colson and Harold Fickett (2008).

Charles Colson writes: "When I told friends I wanted to write an accessible book that would summarize in about 240 pages the basic truths of Christianity, several though it would be impossible....” (p. 9.)

They were both wrong.

Colson summarizes the basic tenets of the faith in far fewer than 240 pages. Instead, he spends many of these pages talking about other things, including political and other implications of these tenets. Colson explains this emphasis perhaps by his thesis that "Christianity is a worldview." (28).

Unfortunately, in summarizing “the basic truths of Christianity” in well under 240 pages, the book borders on the superficial. The Faith's philosophy of religion sections, “God Is" (origins of life) and "What Went Right, What Went Wrong" (theodicy, etc.), for examples, were the weakest--they either gloss over or ignore chasms of controversy. Better to go to with William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith (3d ed.) or Richard Swinburne’s series, including Is There a God?

Nevertheless, the book is highly accessible; its readability is perhaps its best feature. Colson weaves in vignettes to bring the doctrinal material alive, for those who might not otherwise be so inclined.

If Colson's sobering diagnosis is correct--that the Church's "ignorance" of "what we believe--even what Christianity is" "is crippling us" (28), then this book represents at least a small step towards recovery. Other crucial steps, somewhat unaddressed in the book, are questioning and answering why this is the case.

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