Crawford Loritts. Unshaken: Real Faith in Our Faithful God. Wheaton: Crossway, 2015. 144 pp. $14.99
Faith is the most fundamental ingredient of the Christian life. By faith sinners are justified (Romans 5:1), and only by faith alone can one be pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is something all true believers in Christ possess (Romans 12:3), and by it we walk the harrowing, narrow road that leads to Glory (2 Corinthians 5:7). But what exactly is faith? This is the question Crawford Loritts answers in his new book Unshaken: Real Faith in Our Faithful God. Rather than merely defining faith, Loritts carefully paints a picture of faith, or “God confidence,” by guiding the reader through a series of biblical texts and characters known for their dependence on their faithful God.
Unshaken contains over 40 biblical descriptions of faith preceded by the phrase “faith is.” When pooled together, I notice at least three themes running through the book’s pages:
First, the believer’s faith is really a product of his or her relationship with God. Three times Loritts writes, “The condition of our faith is a reflection of our view of God” (p 15; also p 29, 56). In other words, to the degree that we know and experience God, our confidence in Him will be weak and fleeting or strong and increasing.
Second, faith is God-glorifying confidence in Him and what He says in His Word over trusting in our own circumstances or available resources. Loritts proves the Christian’s faith brings God glory precisely because it is centered on His immutability, sovereignty, and faithfulness. Because of this, He will often take away the lesser things (idols?) we trust in so that our faith will be “defined and anchored in the who—God—and not the what” (p 68).
Third, faith is rooted in the sufficiency of Christ. This theme serves as the bookends for the material covered in chapters 3 through 8. Faith is mere wishful thinking apart from Christ’s ability to produce enduring faith in us. As Loritts puts it, “The ability to be content and the strength to keep pursuing Jesus [does] not come from [us]. It comes from Jesus” (p 134).
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
It does not matter if you are a pastor or not: if you are a Christian with weak faith, read Unshaken. The more I read through Loritts’ faithful exposition of Romans 8:31-39, Hebrews 11, Deuteronomy 8, and others, I saw my own faith in God being encouraged and strengthened. Let’s be honest here. We live in a world where careful planning often trumps radical faith in God. We gain a sense of security (albeit, a false one) when we put our stock in what we see rather than what we do not see. But, as Loritts wisely writes, this is not biblical faith! Biblical faith is supernatural; it is founded and rooted a God who keeps His promises, and is first faithful Himself.
This truth is especially poignant for pastors, not least because we are often tempted to become our own functional saviors in the busyness of ministry. In other words, in our attempt to be “successful” pastors (whatever that means), “what we want…becomes the focus of our affections and an object of worship” rather than God Himself (p 67). When this shift occurs, however, our efforts are no longer motivated by a God-confidence, but a self-confidence. Loritts gently scolds this attitude: “Faith’s lesson is not about getting from God what we want, but discovering and experiencing the sufficiency of God in all things” (p 68). This is a lesson to be learned, and a crucial one at that.
God is calling us, through His Word and by His Spirit, to place our entire confidence in Him. This is Loritts’ message in Unshaken. God must be “both our satisfaction and pursuit” – not success, not numbers, not conversions. This book was written for me, and I recommend it to anyone who is tempted to trust in anything but God alone for life and godliness.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By
Unshaken describes what true faith is in an engaging and biblically-faithful manner.