Timothy George said of The Sky Is Not Falling and Chuck Colson, “Chuck Colson has a prophetic word for today’s church. He shares it here with conviction, compassion, and rare wisdom.” God has placed Christians here on a mission and it looks as though the mission has been aborted. The culture has been engulfed by everything that appears to oppose biblical Christianity. Christians are to know the Word, know the world, and growing out of that knowledge, know how to combat the forces that are taking our culture downward.Colson has a unique ability to do both these things and to speak with a voice that definitely has a prophetic tone that is missing in most of evangelical Christianity today.In this easy but challenging read, Colson helps us to understand what we are up against and what these forces look like that are causing the sun to set on our western civilization as we have known it, and that includes Christianity.
One example from the book highlights what the book focuses on. “Christianity is a belief system that is, as Paul tells Festur, ‘true and reasonable.’ I can’t think of a more critical time for pastors, scholars, and laypeople to be grounded in a biblical worldview and to defend it clearly to those hungering for the truth. But are we prepared for the challenge? … 90 percent, according to one survey-have no understanding of worldview. How are we going to contend with competing philosophies if we’re not even rooted in our own truth system?” (Page 24)
Colson demonstrates what is happening to the effectiveness of Christian influence when we are putting experience above reason and image over words. It is apparent we are not equipped for moral discourse or how to combat postmodern thinking. Today, if it feels right and looks right, it must be right, whether in fact it is or is not. Colson writes that “the gospel is not a matter of soothing feelings or rewarding experiences (although it may produce both). It is the Truth that postmodernists can stake their lives on” (Page 27).
The chapter “Bringing Sanity to Moral Confusion” will set the stage for the six-part series mentioned below. The biggest bankruptcy in America today is not economic but moral and spiritual and Colson shows us why. Living by the untruth that the ends justify the means is continuing to take its toll in our society. Using the analogy by theologian Michael Novak in the 90’s that Western liberal democracy is like a three legged stool which if any one of the legs is removed the stool falls. The three are, according to Novak, political freedom, economic freedom and moral responsibility. You get the point!
This is not a doom and gloom book because Colson believes that all hope is not lost for America, and we concur. At present, if we are alert and equipped, we can understand the issues and get involved in every area of life, seeking to be salt and light. And if the church is fulfilling its role in discipling the people, we can hope to see the influence return.The challenge to the church is to disciple its people who have the mission to see their kingdom role in the world. The church must teach the Word with a sense of prophetic urgency and accuracy. It must help the people understand the world and then train the people to move into every area of life making a kingdom difference.Colson refers to Calvin’s emphasis in Book Three of the Institutes of the Christian Religion, that the Truth has to be carried into the mind and heart and then applied. But to get to the application we cannot bypass the learning process.
One last selling point for this book: Colson underscores one of our frequent themes at CEP, that Christians must learn to be bi-lingual. We must speak the Christian language to one another but then know how to speak that same truth in the language of the people we seek to reach. Often, using the Christian language, as though we were speaking to our Christian family members, is not the most effective way to communicate with those presently outside the family. This book will help. It is not difficult to read but it is filled with solid challenging and engaging content.
While it is not necessary to read the above book before using the six-part video series, for which there is a leader’s guide and questions for discussion, it would set the stage. The six-part DVD Doing the Right Thing, is effective for Sunday school groups, high school and above, it can be used in a men’s gathering, or women’s study. Or you can work through it on your own. The series is focused around the moral and ethical challenges that we face today. Moral relativism, if it feels good, do it, or whatever is true for you may not be for me, or there are no absolutes upon which to develop morals, values, and ethical decisions are the things that are effectively dealt with in this series.The format is straight forward. It is narrated by Fox News analyst Britt Hume, along with Chuck Colson and Robert George of Princeton. Five panelists and an audience of college students move through topics ranging from ethics in the public life, to ethics in the market place, to bio-ethics, and knowing the right things to do etc.
Colson was right when he said that we are in an ethical mess and generally not because we are bad people, but because we do not always understand the cultural forces impacting our lives. While the Bible is being preached and taught in our type of churches, the people are not always connecting the dots; hence the church has to go the extra mile and disciple the people with the discerning ability to recognize, understand, and know how to stand in the faith against those forces.
The aim of the series is worldview oriented because it is aimed at examining this moral and ethical mess and coming to grips with what we can and must do in attempting to set things right, according to God’s Truth. Examples of discussion questions will help you to see the import of this series. For example: If moral truth is knowable, why do we have so much disagreement about it in our society and across cultures? Or, when Paul says that governments are “God’s servants to do good,” what does he mean by good? In what ways did government fail to uphold this idea of “good” during the recent economic crisis?
The series is well developed and helps the participant think concretely about today and our role and responsibility in today’s world, plus how Christianity, God’s Truth, is our answer and guide through this mess.