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Doctrinal Boot Camp
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If you have survived a Marine Corps boot camp, read no further. If not, this article is for you.

Over the years I've grown concerned about Christians—especially younger ones—who express little interest in the basic doctrines of the faith. They don't want to appear to be dogmatic or judgmental. I can understand why; after all, as Gabe Lyons and David Kinnaman pointed out in unChristian, we older evangelicals have often come across that way. But our failures do not alter the fact that understanding and living by these doctrines are essential to, well, being Christians.

An aversion to doctrine caused some thoroughly orthodox young evangelicals to decline to sign the Manhattan Declaration (which defends human life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty), even though the document is rooted in Scripture. As one young evangelical explained to me, "We don't like dogmatic statements that a lot of people have to sign." What about the Nicene Creed or the Westminster Confession of Faith?

So I was delighted recently to visit a 31-year-old evangelical who understood my concern. Like me, this young man, Donovan Campbell, was a former Marine Corps officer. He has written a gripping book, Joker One, about his experiences in Iraq as a platoon commander. I asked him about younger evangelicals who believe that we oldsters aren't being sensitive enough to their concerns. "Can you imagine," he asked, "what would happen if a scruffy young recruit were to tell his Marine drill instructor at Parris Island that he ought to be more sensitive to his needs?"

We both chuckled, knowing what would happen to the poor recruit. If he survived, he'd be doing 100 pushups a day for ...

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Contra Mundum
Chuck Colson & Timothy George

Charles Colson was the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, an outreach to convicts, victims of crime, and justice officers. Colson, who converted to Christianity before he was indicted on Watergate-related charges, became one of evangelicalism's most influential voices. His books included Born Again and How Now Shall We Live? A Christianity Today columnist since 1985, Colson died in 2012.

Timothy George is the dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University and a member of Christianity Today's Editorial Council. His books include Reading Scripture with the Reformers and Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? Like Colson, George has been heavily involved in the Evangelicals and Catholics Together discussions. George began cowriting "Contra Mundum" with Colson in 2011.

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Doctrinal Boot Camp
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In the Magazine

February 2011

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