This has been my favorite chapter so far. The belief that humans are “basically good” was one I held for most of my Christian life, unwittingly siding with culture against the Bible. I’ll hold on to this chapter to recommend to others in the future.
Summary: The root cause of human pain is sin, a chosen human response to free will. Attempts to mitigate our responsibility for sin only perpetuate destructive behavior. Colson draws heavily on his own experiences with prisoners in showing the reality of objective sinfulness.
When I nodded my head:
“The most terrifying truth I have discovered in life is the banality of evil; the most ordinary people are capable of the most horrific sin; it is in us all.” (p. 76)
When I furrowed my brow:
Not really furrow-inducing, but there were a few times when I felt a generational disconnect with Colson. Which, I suppose, comes from us being 50 years apart in age.
“We certainly want the blessings of free will, even if we don’t like teh consequences of our evil choices, which we often perversely blame God for. But of course we can’t have it both ways.” (p. 74)
Justin Taylor has assembled a variety of online resources in helping to read through the Bible this year. I’m going to try listening to the Bible via podcast this year, personally.
(Sorry for the absence – I took a week off for vacation. Back to our regularly scheduled blogging).
Summary – Colson makes the case for absolute truth, a debate which he sees as the fault line in Western culture today. The absence of the potential for absolute truth erodes the gospel, confidence in Scripture, and ethics.
When I nodded my head: Even though our culture argues for relative truth, there is a repressed reality that comes out when the argument for truth is properly articulated. Colson uses the example of young adults who don’t like moral absolutes in theory, but can’t stomach the possibility of certain actions (pushing an old lady into traffic, torturing a baby, etc.) as morally neutral.
When I furrowed my brow: While I agreed with much of Colson’s critique of the emergent community (and certainly appreciated his openness to emerging forms of worship), I thought suggesting that emergent leaders could quickly become “cult leaders” (p. 63) came out of nowhere.
(Quick aside: If you’re interested in getting more into what the “emerging church” is (and I don’t necessarily recommend that you do), here‘s a helpful article from Christianity Today to understand the who’s, what’s, and why’s of the whole thing.)
Favorite quote: “When given thirteen basic teachings from the Bible, only 1 percent of adult believers agreed with or accepted all thirteen… This is why Barna describes this as “an age of spiritual anarchy… [while the] church is rotting from the inside out, crippled by abiblical theology.” (p. 66)
What caused you to nod your head when you read this chapter? What caused you to furrow your brow?