An argument for a purely faith-based definition of Christian salvation.
The ancient debate between works and faith is as old as Christianity itself: do people achieve salvation through their faith in Jesus alone, or must they also show their faith through actions? This question is at the heart of Apostolic Church pastor Doherty’s (The Rising Church, 2016, etc.) slim but passionate nonfiction debut. In 15 chapters of accessible prose and copious biblical quotations, he seeks to convince fellow Christian readers to “cease trying to do what God has already done for us,” and he states repeatedly that any idea of gaining salvation through works is mere vanity. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, he asserts, was a complete gift of salvation for the faithful: “Religion says ‘do;’ the gospel says ‘done!’ ” He appears to see fallible human institutions as only serving to get in the way of true salvation, by making believers think they have to earn what they already have. He comments darkly on competition between churches over the nature and extent of their Christian work, drawing emphasis away from their faith and striving “to produce holiness through church life, rather than bear holiness through Christ life.” The book’s clear implication is that such rivalry can set unwary Christians on a path to hypocrisy by embracing man-made trappings, rather than divine salvation. In clear, insistent text, the book aims to remind Christians that they require no outside help to forge a relationship with Jesus: “The gift of a life with God is freely given,” he says. “The only thing required of us is to accept the gift.” Doherty is certainly thorough and convincing in his argument—although some readers may find that equally thorough books could also be written on the other side of this ongoing debate.
A knowledgeable, forthright call to Christians to embrace their faith—not just their church.