A Few Example Posts:

  • "The End of Faith: A Short Response to Sam Harris"
  • See also:
  • "A Long Response to Sam Harris' The End of Faith, by Neil Shenvi"

  • "Is John Piper the Best Answer to Emergence and Postmodernism?"

  • "Captured"

  • "The Storm is Over"

  • "If Golfing Were the Pursuit of Moral Perfection"

  • 10.26.2005

    The Good Life



    The Good Life
    by Chuck Colson
    Tyndale House Publishers
    Wheaton, Illinois

    FROM THE FLAP

    “Do you wonder if you can figure out the world and your place in it? Do you question how your life can be truly significant? Reflecting on his own story and the story of others, Chuck Colson examines the beliefs and assumptions that form the fabric of our lives.”

    SUMMARY


    Directing its readers to pursue a life of significance, The Good Life contains four sections:

    1. Searching for the Good Life.
    2. Giving to Others.
    3. Searching for the Truth.
    4. Living the Good Life.

    The author relates various stories in the first section to frame the issue of his book. What is the good life? Is it the pursuit to change the world for the better--and using power to do it (as Mr. Colson experienced in what became the infamous White House of Richard Nixon)? Is it clamoring after money and pleasure like L. Dennis Kozlowski, the former CEO of the Tyco corporation? Or is the good life to be found in standing firm against oppressive regimes as Nien Cheng of China did for six and a half years in prison? The book goes on to compare and contrast other views and stories of what it means to live well.

    The section “Giving to Others” moves the reader to conclude that the good life is found in giving one’s life away for the sake of others. On page 144, the author states:

    “Giving to others brings the greatest satisfaction. It’s one thing to write a check, but sometimes we have to give ourselves. I mean, totally, including life itself. When we do, there’s no limit to the way others’ lives can be changed and our culture transformed.”

    Colson supports his conclusion by relating the true story of Earnest Gordon’s experiences in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

    The transition to the third section, “Searching for Truth,” reminds the reader that pie-in-the-sky altruism is not what the author is advocating: “So sacrificing ourselves for others gets us only part of the way. The most important question is whether what we sacrifice for is the truth. Therefore, we need to ask ourselves, Is there such a thing as truth, and can we know it (p. 156)?”

    “Living the Good Life,” the last section seeks to inspire the reader to pursue giving one’s life away for the sake of truth. The doctrine of God’s Providence can give us confidence that God is directing the lives, and the deaths, of His people for the good. Seeking to inspire his readers, Mr. Colson shares the stories of Christians like Bill Bright and others who lived and died well. He then shares how God has brought the author full circle. He found himself back at the place of his fall in the Watergate scandal.

    “That’s why I can say to you...that the good life is near at hand. It’s both God’s will for you and His free gift to you (p. 365).”

    CRITIQUE

    Strengths:

    The section “Searching for Truth” is the book’s backbone. It contains and arranges material in a unique and helpful way. How people can give themselves “to great causes” while becoming monsters is highlighted in the story of Albert Speer, a principal war criminal during the Nuremberg trials after World War 2. Living to change the world is dangerous if one does not have a handle on truth. The author relates how even he was misled in his desire to change the world for the better--and fell in the Watergate scandal. Any cause that is disengaged from the truth leads to ruin.

    Colson also challenges the philosophy of the ethicist Peter Singer who, with an air of respectability, advocates for euthanasia and infanticide. Colson’s treatment of this matter is effective and worth the price of the book.

    The rest of this section includes discussions on Intelligent Design, morality, beauty, and the ability to know truth. Mr. Colson’s experience and ideas will encourage the reader to believe that truth not only exists but that it can be known. Some readers will easily see Francis Schaeffer’s influence on the author.

    The book also contains an important story about Randy Thomas and his deliverance from a homosexual lifestyle. The reader will gain insight into the struggles of many homosexuals. Randy’s story offers the hope and confidence that people with this difficulty can be delivered. In the current philosophical climate, this kind of writing is rare and daring.

    Weaknesses:
    Colson seems at times to fall into using his life story to “set the record straight” about Watergate rather than supporting his thesis; however, he does so in a way worthy of the reader’s forgiveness.

    The theme of the book is living for others based on truth. The thesis is sound as far as it goes. However, I found myself thinking that there is still more to finding the good life. Colson could have taken his thoughts to the higher level of living for and enjoying the glory of God. It seems that Colson emphasizes the second of the greatest commands, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. ” I wish he had started his thoughts on the good life by using the first commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God...” and then moving on to the second.

    To use movie parlance: If we could have had a “Chuck Colson meets John Piper” publication, it would have been a blockbuster.

    CONCLUSION

    The Good Life deals with profound issues in a conversational style. While the book could have been more, it is a worthy read. I recommend it highly.

    3 Comments:

    At 12:31 PM, Blogger risen_soul said...

    Chuck Colson does some good I don't deny that but his hold to Roman Catholocism is his obvious downfall. He believes in a works based salvation like a normal Roman Catholic would and that overlaps into his view on how to change theo world through works, and not as much as the true gospel. At least that's my opinion that is often unpopular. Anyway, I like your blog. Keep it up!

     
    At 9:39 PM, Blogger Jeremy Weaver said...

    Colson's good on a 'Christian' or better stated, 'Conservative' worldview, but like you say, he's very horizontal and not very vertical.
    I'll be checking out the book though, but only because you recommended it.

     
    At 9:03 AM, Blogger John Rush said...

    Risen Soul,

    I have not yet personally heard him say that one works his way to God, but his sympathy towards Catholicism has confused me. I share your concerns.
    -------------------------
    Doxoblogist,

    Don't get too enthusiastic.

    JRush

     

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