Review of the Book `Christian Foundations (Revised)`
by Kathleen Fischer and Thomas Hart
Christian Foundations: (Revised Edition), An Introduction to Faith in Our Time written by husband and wife tandem of Thomas N. Hart and Kathleen R. Fischer is about Christian faith as applied to our current times.
About the Authors
Kathleen Fischer and Thomas Hart specialized in writing about books on Christianity. Hart has a number of books to his credit such as the widely popular Hidden Spring and the The Art of Christian Listening.
Fischer is the author of Christian-inspired books Women at the Well and Autumn Gospel. Hart and Fischer have collaborated in other books such as Promises to Keep and A Counselor’s Prayerbook.
Contents of the Book
The introduction offers an interesting anecdote about St. Francis of Assisi. Once, the multi-faceted saint found himself journeying into the town of Gubbio. The townfolks are hunting a wolf that attacked animals and children.
Being gifted with the ability to talk with animals, St. Francis helped the people search for the wolf so he can talk to it. He promised the wolf that he be provided for as long as he no longer attacks the people or animals. The wolf agreed. The ending is a happy one as the wolf and the villagers found a way to co-exist harmoniously with each other.
This parable is the key to understanding the gist of the book Christian Foundations. The entire book is about faith and how it can help us make our lives better, thus making our community and the whole world better in the process.
The authors relate this St. Francis story to our modern age. The relevance of the wolf story still resonates in this day and age. People are quick to use force to subdue when a simple conversation could have iron things out. What could be mere misunderstanding could be blown out of proportions. Each party unwilling to listen to the other.
The basic premise of the book Christian Foundation is that Christian faith is relevant in our lives today. Our beliefs serve as the foundation for our actions. The book explores and attempts to apply Christian beliefs in our modern world today. To be able to come up with relevant texts, the works and thoughts of contemporary theologians are analyzed and related to our present times. In this way, theology is not merely theoretical but one that is based on solid foundations and applicable in our generation.
Christian Foundation tackles the major issues of the Christian life, albeit surface scanning. This way, the basic premise behind them are being explored deeply. The texts are intended to provide basic ideas on the foundation of Christian faith and hopes to elicit curiosity and deeper study in the process.
The first chapter The Riddle of Existence is about the most basic questions that plagues mankind which serve as unfathomable riddles of our existence. The riddles of evil and good confront us on a daily basis.
The US despite its being rich, the people still face different problems and challenges such as drug addiction and loneliness. Questions abound yet no answers could satisfy them since even if one gets to the bottom of things, more questions arise in the process.
But life is not exactly hopeless. If there is a riddle of evil there is an equally puzzling riddle of good. The beauty of nature opens up to us also on a daily basis. The uniqueness and beauty of each person is another good thing. Love is one mystery that we can only fathom through our hearts. Giving birth is another riddle of good as it dwells on the profound mystery of life. Men and women of extraordinary achievements also abound such as saints, political and leaders such as Gandhi.
We may not fully fathom these riddles but we are not here to understand them but to live them or in spite of them. Evil and challenges may plague us but the riddle of good will always prevail.
The remaining chapter delves on how Christian faith could respond to this riddle or mystery.For instance, Chapter 2 and 3, The Existence of God and Images of God, respectively, are about the mystery of faith as associated to our experiences and our need for Transcendent.
Is God real? There is no one proof of God’s existence but there are numerous hints that serve as the reason for our faith. Another way of knowing is through the illative sense wherein one can infer from the concrete the same way that an artist instinctively knows how much pressure is needed in a chisel or brush. This may not have logical basis but it is correct.
Chapters 4 and 5, The Bible and Jesus, respectively, tackle God’s revelation through the bible and through Jesus who is at the core of our Christian faith and existence. Fischer and Hart dwell on Hebrew scriptures and gospels. The old testament has prepared us for the coming of the Savior. The new testament is actually about Jesus and his influence on our way of lives.
Chapters 6 and 7, Faith and The Mystery of Suffering and Evil respectively talk about the meaning of faith. Being committed to this faith exposes Christians to the deeper mystery of understanding suffering and evil.
Chapter 8, 9, 10 and 11 which are Christian Existence, The Church, Christian Spirituality Prayer and Sacraments and Care for Creation pertain to how Christians are called to demonstrate and apply their faith in our world today.
Chapter 12, The End of the World Heaven and Hell respectively, discusses the future that awaits Christians during judgment time.
And the final Chapter 13, Christianity Among the Religions of the World talks about Christianity in the face of numerous faith choices available to the people in the modern world. Christianity must learn to live in harmony with other religions. It is not an isolated dogma rather it must evolve with the times and with the people from other faith.
If all of us would give time to pursue prayer, worship and reflecting on spiritually nourishing books, peace would be attain within us and eventually in the way we relate with others around us.
Faith will enable us to experience growth and find deeper meaning in life. As more and more people would live this kind of life, problems such as hatred, wars and loneliness would be effectively eliminated. The world would finally find the peace, love and harmony it has been craving for since time immemorial. In the Christian world, this ideal place would be called the reign of God.
Evaluation of the Book
Fischer and Hart definitely succeeds in convincing me that our Christian convictions would reflect and flow in our actions and are therefore essential for us to attain the ideal.
The Christian doctrine is not just some theory cooked up by the bible. It is actually based on realities surrounding us. Yes, evil may overwhelm but it is goodness that will overcome. The ideal world that we all desire will only materialize if all of us make it a habbit to nurture deeper spirituality and live a life of faith.
Assessment of the Book
Christian Foundations has expanded my knowledge on Christian principles and how it can be applied in the real world. It is not enough that one be Christian by faith or words. Faith has to be demonstrated through actions.
Reflecting on God’s words, doing good deeds, reading godly materials – these are ways to show one’s faith. In the process, faith is no longer a theoretical work but is deeply imbibed in our daily lives. This is the kind of faith that can change actions, thinking and even others. Faith after all is not just an isolated thing. It may come from deep within but its impact affect us all.
I found myself praying in a different manner. Learning to talk to God while thinking about Him is an enightening experience and a unique way to do theology.
Fischer, Kathleen & Hart, Thomas. “Christian Foundations: (Revised Edition), An
Introduction to Faith in Our Time.” revised, ed. US, Paulist Press. 1995.
“Christian Foundations by Kathleen R. Fischer and Thomas N. Hart.” Google Book Search.
2009. 5 May 2009.
“About this Book.” Google Book Search. 2009. 5 May 2009.
“Christian Foundations: (Revised Edition), An Introduction to Faith in Our Time. Kathleen
R. Fischer and Thomas N. Hart.” Paulist Press. 2009. 5 May 2009. <www.paulistpress.com/bookSearch.cgi?page=books_theophil>