Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Colson on Catechesis

Chuck Colson has written an engaging article about the need for re-instructing the church in the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith. Just this morning I read in my BSF notes about the primacy of knowledge in saving faith, that is, faith in Christ rests in a true understanding of his Person and work. Amen!

I was actually a little surprised to find that such a stalwart of modern American evangelicalism as Colson says that contextualization--culturally packaging Christian doctrine in a way that can more readily be grasped--is "radically different from changing the definitive, concise summary of Christian truth the early church fathers accomplished in their councils." What? The Religious Right upholding the Seven Ecumenical Councils? I'm glad to see it. I think this could be an up-side of many evangelicals' desire for a more "authentic" (read: ancient) faith. Of course, most just want medieval spiritual practices, candles, and "spirituality"; others seeking an authentic faith are stressing "following Jesus" (orthopraxy) over confessing truth about him (orthodoxy). (I specifically think of Emergent movement here.) But if a desire to discover an authentic faith leads to embracing the historical doctrines of Christianity, then that's awesome!

I am also glad to read that Colson says that "personal faith is of course vital, but it is not sufficient." Faith, in itself, is nothing. It's merely, as the reformers put it, the "open hand" that receives Christ and all his benefits. Our faith--our knowledge, assent, and trust--must be in "him who is true" (1 John 5:20).


Ted M. Gossard said...

Quite an interesting post, and I think I follow in getting all you're saying here, Andrew. Good thoughts, too.

I guess for me the labeling has limited value; you find oh so many exceptions. Most under the label "emergent," really do believe orthopraxy does not trump orthodoxy, that correct belief is necessary for correct practice.

My complaint about some is that it's as if we need to go back to the Reformation and live there, without the necessity of always reforming. My thought is likewise probably a caricature of the reality. But I firmly believe we can find good throughout our look at the history of the church. And I'm not opposed to lighting candles or against all things Eastern, either. But neither do I want to do something just because it is different, unless well grounded in an understood way, in regard to the faith.

I appreciate your stimulating thoughts here. And blessings on your last days of preparation before the big day!

Ted M. Gossard said...

...by the way, I really appreciate Charles Colson.