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The purpose of Standing Firm in the Faith is very practical—to let Scripture stir people into action. The Bible says that Scripture is living and active. It can profoundly impact our lives if we allow it to. It has impacted my life greatly. I hope that Standing Firm in the Faith will encourage all of us to allow Scripture to affect the way we live our lives.
What I have written is a discussion of basic Christian principles that I think need to be more clearly understood and more fully applied. It is also an account of how these principles have impacted my life. I hope that this will suggest how they may impact the lives of others.
I have sought to keep my presentation simple and non-technical. My brother, an engineer, used to say that if he could not express his ideas in ordinary lay language, he probably didn’t understand them himself. I have tried to follow that example. I also believe that, for most laymen, the important thing is to have a solid grasp of the basic essentials of Christian belief. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said (to the best of my recollection), “The vindication of the obvious is often more important than the elucidation of the obscure.”
I came to Jesus Christ late in life, in my 60s. Hence I did not grow up within the confines of any one denominational or theological outlook. The one principle that underlies everything in this book is that all Scripture is true and authoritative. I try to form my understanding as much as possible from the words of Scripture itself, believing that the Scriptures were meant to be understood by ordinary people. I hope that this may sometimes enable me to bring a freshness of approach that has some value.
It is essential to have sound, Scripturally based doctrine on basic issues. Our doctrinal beliefs will affect our actions, for good or for evil. There are some doctrines that all who would call themselves Christians must adhere to. Understanding the basic essentials of these doctrines is, for most laymen, far more important than pursuing all their refinements.
Most of what I have written applies to myself as much as to anyone else. Often, I am dealing with goals which Scripture has set for us and which few, if any, people on earth have fully achieved. We are all in the process of learning and growing. But it is good to be clear as to our goals even though they are seldom fully achievable on this earth.
I have quoted and referred to a considerable amount of Scripture. I have several purposes in doing so. (1) As a lawyer, I like to document what I say. (2) I want to encourage my readers to read Scripture, and to read it in context. (3) I want to encourage my readers to check Scripture for themselves to see whether these things are so. (See Acts 17:11.) (4) I like to let Scripture speak for itself. The language of Scripture is far more powerful, and more capable of reaching people’s hearts, than any words I could write. (5) One of the things I enjoy about Scripture is the repeated discovery that different human authors, writing at very different times, have said essentially the same thing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I delight in the way different parts of Scripture fit together.
I have referred to some Greek and Hebrew words. I have studied a little Greek and Hebrew, but do not read either language. I believe that, with today’s resources (which I discuss briefly at the end of Chapter 4), the average layman can get a sense of what some of the original words of Scripture mean, and even of some of their nuances. At times, in this book, I shall show how I have found this to be so in my own reading of Scripture.
I have tried to let each chapter be complete in itself, so that those who wish may browse through this book rather than reading it from start to finish. This may have resulted in some repetition of material and thought. I have tried to minimize any repetition. But I also think there can be value in hearing the same thought repeated in different contexts. We get exposed hourly to so much that is false and ungodly, that we need to make a conscious effort to put God’s principles into our mind. Repetition is one way to do this.
I sometimes refer to personal events in my life. I do this, not out of any desire to call attention to myself, but in the hope that this may help bring Scriptural principles to life, and may demonstrate that God’s principles work. Our God is a very practical God.
I use the term “man” in its generic sense of mankind, the human race, what biologists call homo sapiens. This is the sense in which it is often used in Scripture. For example, Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” In following this traditional use of the word, I do not imply any suggestion of superiority or inferiority of either sex.
What qualifications do I have for writing such a book? A brief biographical note is in order. My primary professional training and experience is as a lawyer. I had the privilege of being law clerk to Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1942 to 1944. I served in various capacities as a lawyer in the U.S. Government. I have argued a number of cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and participated in the briefing of many others, including some of major Constitutional significance.
As a lawyer, I attained some skill in interpreting a written text. Our understanding of Scripture must always be based on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Someone who does not have the Holy Spirit cannot understand spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:14). But I believe my legal training can help me organize and present what the Holy Spirit has shown me is in the Scriptures. As a student and performer of classical music, I had a different kind of experience in interpreting a written text in accordance with the intent of its author.
During much of my life I was a humanist, believing in the power of man to improve himself by his own efforts. I eventually found that this was false. In seeking for a more spiritual dimension to my life, I joined a New Age organization. After a number of years I left it, because I concluded that its teachings were inconsistent with Scripture, and I decided to believe Scripture. I later earned a Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies.
When I left the New Age organization, I adopted, as a description of my situation, the words of Psalm 40:2 (NIV), “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Ever since, I have taken my stand on the rock of Scripture. I find it a great comfort that, in a world in which so much seems like quicksand, there is a solid rock on which to stand.
I do not claim any special value for my own thoughts. However, I do claim that everything I have written is based on Scripture. Some may disagree with my interpretation of Scripture, or may feel that I have emphasized one aspect of it and given inadequate attention to other aspects. This is fine; I encourage my readers to check everything out for themselves. But I do claim that everything I say has Scriptural support, and for that reason deserves your serious consideration.
The basic message of this book is both simple and Scriptural. I ask that you not allow differences of opinion over some details to detract from that basic message.
I thank my family and friends and many others for their love, encouragement, and prayers as I worked on this book while at the same time fighting cancer. I thank my wife and daughter for their many contributions, including their poems, and for bearing with patience the time-consuming process of putting the book together. I thank others who have contributed in various ways to this book. I thank my son Bob for taking care of my website and keeping my computer going. I thank all three of my children for their prayers, which eventually brought my wife and me to salvation. I thank all who, in various ways, have shown me God’s extraordinary love and the blessings he bestows on those who serve him.
May God bless us all as we seek to know and understand him better!
James L. Morrisson
I believe that, because of the challenging times in which we live, many Christians need to be able to read Standing Firm in the Faith. Therefore, I have made the entire book available online at the following website. Please let people know about it. If you have a website, please feel free to link to it.
Although written for Christians (both new believers and old timers), Standing Firm in the Faith is also helpful for people who are considering the claims of Christianity.
You can order the book by phone (1-800-288-4677) from the publisher. You can also buy it online from Amazon.com and iUniverse.com. (The best way to find the book is to search for the title because my last name has an unusual spelling.) Bookstores, including Internet stores, can get discounts if they order from the publisher by phone.