RECOMMENDED READING: ROCK-SOLID FAITH: HOW TO SUSTAIN IT

GARY W. SUMMERS

   

Sometimes sequels are not as good as the original, but this book provides an excellent follow-up to the first of the series, Rock-Solid Faith: How To Build It, which was first published in the year 2000. Both books ought to be read by every child of God; the church would be the stronger for it.

The first two chapters (7-84) deal with defining and sustaining Biblical faith. For many years theologians and modernists have ignored the definitions and examples of faith that the Bible provides and have drawn the conclusion that faith is merely a "leap in the dark." Some in the church have been affected by such thinking as well; therefore, these two chapters teach material that is crucial to the practice of New Testament Christianity. If brethren are led to believe that "there is not enough evidence anywhere to absolutely prove God" (7) or that faith results from wishful thinking instead of being based on reason and evidence (9), then it is no wonder so many do not take matters seriously.

Why should members of the body of Christ be enthusiastic in their worship or zealous in their outreach if, after all, they might be mistaken about God's existence? It is difficult to muster much excitement for something which is only possibly, instead of absolutely, true. Brother Thompson cites numerous quotations by those who hold such a view; then he discusses the relationship of faith and reason and faith and knowledge, also citing those who uphold the truth on this subject. One such quotation is from J. Greshem Machen, a distinguished Greek scholar, who also wrote accurately concerning faith:

If the growth of ignorance is lamentable in secular education, it is tenfold worse in the Christian religion and in the sphere of the Bible.... What is called faith after the subtraction of that element [knowledge--BT] is not faith at all.... All faith involves knowledge and issues in knowledge" (41).

To state it another way, that which does not issue in knowledge is not really faith; it is opinion. Abram did not leave Ur of the Chaldees based on opinion; Christians in the first century did not give their lives as a matter of preference. They knew that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God! And so can we. These chapters bring to light that Christians are being charged with ignorance; they provide ways in which we can effectively combat such popular but erroneous ideas.

The next two chapters (85-134) present a thorough analysis of what it means to be in the image and likeness of God. The first one explains that the two phrases from Genesis 1:26 are synonymous, the latter (after our likeness) being a restatement of the former ("Let Us make man in Our image"). After discussing some false theories as to what these phrases mean, the next question is: Did man's fall and sin's entrance into the world change the way God originally created us? This is an important question because many, such as Martin Luther (and to a lesser extent, Calvin), taught this doctrine. Several Scriptures, however, are examined which prove that, despite the existence of sin, we remain in the image of God. The second chapter on this subject presents ten ideas as to what imago Dei ("in the image of God") means. These are worth serious reflection and consideration.

The fifth chapter (135-70) is titled "Knowing and Defeating the Enemy," and it thoroughly examines the father of evil. Some of the questions treated in this section are: "Is Satan Real?" "Is Satan Deity?" "Was Satan Created 'Evil'?" "Is Satan a Fallen Angel?" "When Did Satan Become Evil?" "Why Has God Allowed Satan to Continue to Exist?" "What Are SatanŐs Powers?"

The next five chapters are titled "The Origin, Nature, and Destiny of the Soul." The first of these defines the words soul and spirit; then it provides examples of these usages in the Old and New Testaments. Brother Thompson presents this material in a very organized manner, thus making clear what tends to be a confusing subject. A helpful chart on page 185 puts a lot of this information on one page, and it serves to summarize the subject.

The second in this series is brief (189-200), but it covers one of the most important issues of this (or any) day: When does human life begin? Once again, science and the Scriptures harmonize regarding the matter. An argument based on James 2:26 is presented; we will not here quote the entire text, but it begins with: "If the body is alive..." Complete the sentence and ponder the implications of it--not only with respect to abortion but to euthanasia as well (192-93).

The third chapter relating to the destiny of the soul discusses the annihilation theory (see especially pages 208-20), a favorite doctrine of atheists and some brethren. This idea is connected to the one that insists that the fires of hell consume the spirit (annihilate it), which has been espoused by Edward Fudge, John Clayton, F. LaGard Smith, and Alan Pickering (210-11). Several Scriptures are presented which prove that such a position is false.

The fourth section in this series explains the necessity of punishment and what constitutes appropriate punishment. The fifth one focuses on the word hell: what it means, its origin, its usages in the New Testament, and its attributes. All five of these chapters are thorough and convincing. Besides providing fascinating reading the first time through, they will serve in the future as an excellent reference tool.

Chapter 11 is: "Abandoning Faith--Why Are We Losing Our Children?" This thoughtful analysis is a refreshing change from those who think our young people are not being entertained enough and that, if we just had more social activities, they would be faithful Christians. Brother Thompson boldly suggests in a subheading: "We Have Failed to Teach Our Children Spiritual Values" (269). He also points out that, despite their being some excellent teachers in the public schools, children are primarily taught humanism. Their thirty plus hours of indoctrination in the public schools cannot be offset by two Bible classes a week (271).

Just as parents must be informed about their children to offset detrimental influences, so must they first take care of themselves spiritually. Chapter twelve therefore concerns: "Abandoning Faith--Why Are We Losing Adults?" Four Scriptural reasons are cited: Although four pages (285-89) are devoted to the third reason, twelve are devoted to the fourth--suffering (290-301). The remainder of the chapter concerns "The Cost of Leaving the Faith." Reading this material might prevent someone from dying spiritually.

The final few pages are primarily an exhortation: "Faithfully Teaching the Faith." Included are some words of wisdom that provide the reader a valid means of distinguishing between a false teacher who espouses fatal error and a brother who teaches something falsely. (314-16).

This volume concludes with the "References" section (319-37), a "Subject Index" (339-49), a "Name Index" (351-56), and a "Scripture Index" (357-74). The first of these contains the list of all the sources cited in the book; the second will aid the reader in returning to a topic he desires to revisit; the third will assist in finding a quote by someone that the reader may want to use (many are included); and the last one will make it easy to find comments made in relation to the Word of God.

This excellent book may be ordered from Apologetics Press, Inc., 230 Landmark Drive, Montgomery, AL 36117-2752; their Web Site is . It may also be ordered from Valid Publications, Inc. The cost is $12.00.

*Send comments or questions concerning this article to Gary Summers. Please refer to this article as: "RECOMMENDED READING: ROCK-SOLID FAITH: HOW TO SUSTAIN IT (07/07/02)."


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