Faith Seeks to Understand

  In his upcoming book, Philip Graham Ryken, senior pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia writes, "Whether you realize it or not, you too are a theologian. And if that is true, then you should try to become a good one." I couldn't agree more. Anyone who thinks about God -- even the atheist who wants to deny His existence -- has a theology. A Christian worldview is only as good as the theology that underlies it. That's why I'm thrilled by two books that arrived in my office within a few days of each other: Beyond Doubt by Cornelius Plantinga, president of Calvin Theological Seminary, and From Rebellion to Redemption by Randal Working, a pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Bellevue, Washington. Both books are eminently accessible paths to good, solid theology. Plantinga's book is subtitled "Faith-Building Devotions on Questions Christians Ask." Questions like: "If the Lord is with us, why do we suffer?" "Why pray?" "How should we handle wealth?" "How do we face death?" Plantinga looks at questions about God, humanity, Jesus Christ, salvation, the church, and last things. The book is a devotional, and while each devotion is only two pages long, it's not a book of quick, easy answers. Instead Plantinga offers short, readable meditations on Scripture texts that are meant to address the question, but not fully answer it. He successfully leads the reader into his or her own deeper reflection where faith and understanding can grow stronger. For thoughtful individuals during daily devotions, for couples just before turning the lights out at night, for families with older children at mealtime, Plantinga offers thought-provoking, bite-sized nuggets of truth to feed minds and hearts. From Rebellion to Redemption by Randal Working is a year's worth of reflections on the Heidelberg Catechism, a statement of faith published in Germany in 1563. A catechism is an ancient tool for teaching, consisting of questions and answers that students can memorize. The Heidelberg Catechism has been correctly described as theologically precise and intensely personal. For example, question 1 asks: "What is your only comfort in life and in death?" The answer: "That I am not my own, but belong -- body and soul, in life and death -- to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ": profound truth with direct personal application. The author breaks the Heidelberg into fifty-two weeks of guided study and meditation. There are opening and closing prayers, the catechism questions for the week, daily Scripture readings, and questions for reflection and discussion. Each chapter includes passages from a broad spectrum of Christian writers - - C. S. Lewis, Dallas Willard, J. I. Packer, Teresa of Avila, and St. Augustine, to name a few. Men and women spending a year soaking in the Heidelberg Catechism with this kind of guidance would soon become an army of well-formed worldview thinkers. Anselm of Canterbury, one of the greatest medieval theologians, said that faith seeks understanding. That's probably why you listen to BreakPoint. You have faith, and you want to understand. Understanding the culture, developing a Christian worldview, and renewing the culture rest on solid theology. Beyond Doubt and From Rebellion to Redemption are great resources for improving our theology a day at a time.   For further reading and information: Cornelius Plantinga, Beyond Doubt (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2001). Randal Working, From Rebellion to Redemption (Navpress, 2001). Biographical information on Philip Graham Ryken can be read here. You can read the Heidelberg Catechism here. Read about Anselm of Canterbury here.


Chuck Colson


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