A treatise on the nature of Christian belief.
Morris, in his nonfiction debut, initially strikes a binary tone: The whole spiritual life of mankind boils down to two features—a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. But, in the author’s thoughtful, intensely comprehensive readings of the Old Testament and New Testament, this somewhat stark opening broadens almost immediately into a much wider investigation of the scriptural warrants for faith. Morris’ text isn’t for the lighthearted: This is dense theologizing along the lines of St. Augustine’s monumental Civitas Dei. Pagelong paragraphs aren’t uncommon, and the author’s rhetorical style sometimes needlessly encumbers sentences with a shaggy moss of clauses that can obscure the points at play. Morris reinforces nearly every observation he makes with at least one textual citation; indeed, text is central not only as document, but as dogma: “[T]he Christian’s life,” he writes, “is an affirmation of the struggle fashioned by the word of God.” That struggle recurs throughout Morris’ book, as do the concentrations on the practical, pragmatic dimensions of working faith. But this isn’t as much of an airy, theoretical dissertation as it might first appear. Early on, Morris assures his readers that the Holy Spirit grants every true believer “the spiritual authority of self-assurance,” and it’s through that personal authority that his Christian audience (needless to say, that is the book’s sole imaginable readership) is urged to act. The book’s strongest chapter, “The True Gospel,” stresses that “forgiveness is a practical program,” applying equally man’s forgiveness of his fellow man and God’s forgiveness of his creations. At times, the excess verbiage can bleed into the incomprehensible—e.g., “The article of implementation is instrumental in its invocation of logic that alludes the human level of thought that is manifested into action.” Even so, this is a powerful, sweeping interpretation of Christian faith.
A schema of Christian doctrine, bristling with biblical knowledge yet grounded in the real world.