Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Charles Colson in CT: "Doctrine Bears Repeating"

The sub-title for Colson's important article is "Evangelicals need to brush up on basic Christian teachings."

Here are some excerpts:

"'We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.' Written in 1939, George Orwell's words might well be addressed to the leaders of today's biblically illiterate church.

"The most obvious thing to be said about Christianity is that it rests on historic facts: the Creation, the Incarnation, and the Resurrection. Since our doctrines are truth claims, they cannot be mere symbolism. This is important to remember as we celebrate the Resurrection, which is often clouded by the pageantry of Easter....

"Last June, a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey found rampant doctrinal ignorance among American Christians. Fifty-seven percent of evangelicals believed people who follow religions other than their own can enjoy eternal life. The results were so unexpected that Pew repeated the survey, asking more specific questions. The answers were virtually unchanged. Astonishingly, about half believed that everyone, atheists included, was going to end up in heaven. Heaven for the godless? That's the old heresy of universalism.

"Indifference to the truths of the gospel is seen in many other spheres, such as among those who champion 'deeds, not creeds' (I do the deeds of prison ministry because I believe the creeds), and in endless discussions about new ways to 'understand' or 'do' theology. Some embrace another old heresy, that doctrines must be extracted from inward experience—that is, personal feelings. That's a version of Gnosticism.

"Still others want to make Christianity 'fit' the postmodern era or 'work out' their theology in public, with non-Christians helping to shape the outcome. Yes, we need to contextualize the message so that hearers in a given time and culture can grasp the truth we proclaim. But that is radically different from changing the definitive, concise summary of Christian truth the early church fathers accomplished in their councils.

"As one reporter noted, even when Christians know correct doctrine, they are afraid of speaking the truth for fear of offending others. What right have I to impose my beliefs on others? is a thought that shapes too many of us believers.

"This is why J. I. Packer, on his 80th birthday, said that the greatest challenge of evangelicalism is to re-catechize our churches. More than ever, Christians need to be able to speak intelligently and courageously about the hope that lies within...."

You can read the entire article here.

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