The Faith: Given Once, For All
By Charles Colson and Harold Fickett, Zondervan, 2008, 240 pages, $15.19 (#8917)
Before I review the book, let me give you some background insight. The manuscript to The Faith was completed about the same time CEP was planning its November 2008 Kingdom Discipleship Conference, and we were trying to get Chuck Colson as one of the speakers. He said before he would respond, he wanted me to read and comment on the manuscript. As I was reading the manuscript in route to California, I noticed on page 167 that he used a phrase we had already chosen for our conference, “mak[ing] visible God’s invisible kingdom.” I finished the manuscript and responded. “You must come. You already know the topic we want you to deal with.”
As I introduced Colson at the conference, I made mention of that story but went on to say I was disappointed that my recommendation was not printed along with the others. Though spoken in jest, I said the recommenders seemed like a who’s who list among Reformed evangelicals with names like J. I. Packer, william Edgar, Bryan Chapell, Joni Eareckson Tada, etc. Colson became very apologetic that my statement was not included and wanted to do a new edition.
The reason for this background is to say that The Faith is an outstanding book for one reason; it echoes our concerns about those who profess to be Christians but lack a solid understanding of the faith. A burden is expressed and addressed up front. How can Christians contend for the faith if they lack an understanding and ability to communicate it? Colson and Fickett make it clear that the ancient faith provides answers to the deepest questions being asked in and out of the church. one example is clear. “No other worldview or religion protects the sanctity of life and human dignity as Christianity does; no other worldview has ever created as humane and progressive a culture as Christianity has.”
The challenge for the church is that it needs to be more effective in making kingdom disciples who understand the faith, what they believe, and how to communicate the truth to today’s postmodern world. The authors highlight two major challenges: anti-theism and Islam. Christians must understand these and know how Christianity is the answer. The book clearly states that Christians must see the faith as more than a religion or even a right relationship with Christ. It is a worldview that speaks to every area of life. However, because we lack an understanding of what we say we believe, we are being crippled in communicating Christianity.
This book will be a good review for some, extremely instructive for others, but worth every Christian’s read. I especially like this book because it underscores the church’s mission to equip Christians to live as kingdom people. The book is full of examples from people such as William Wilberforce, George Whitfield, and others who did just that. You will see how the gospel of the kingdom is at the heart of each of these major doctrines. J.P. Moreland referred to The Faith as Colson’s best book yet. Bryan Chapell says, “Here Chuck Colson asks and answers the hardest questions of the Christian faith.”
The Faith is the foundation of a curriculum based on the book that includes a DVD, leader’s guide, and participant’s guide. This curriculum makes the material easy for adults to study and discuss together, and the book can be a stand alone or the basis of the entire study. All of the materials are available from the CEP Bookstore. After reviewing them, I agree with Packer. “Thank God for such men and such a book.”