Coleman Ford’s Formed in His Image provides Christians with a spiritually rich account of how children of God should pursue personal formation. Ford contends that true Christian formation is the journey by which image-bearers spend his or her lives pursuing and being shaped by God’s goodness, truth, and beauty. Despite the outer and inner adverse effects of sin in this world, the gospel-driven story provides Christians with the means of experiencing restoration for the glory of God.
The Foundation of Christian Formation––Doctrine
In the first part of Formed in His Image, Ford builds the theological framework from which proper Christian formation flows. The first two chapters focus on the Christian experience of finding satisfaction in the goodness, truth, and beauty of the Trinitarian God. As a natural outworking of the previous chapters, Ford concludes the first part of Formed in His Image by outlining a proper Christian identity rightly informed by one’s union with Christ and the theological and spiritual significance of the Holy Spirit in Christian formation.
A Practical Guide to Christian Formation
The latter half of Ford’s Formed in His Image demonstrates how a Christian should live out his or her formation. His first two chapters in the final section focus on the corporate and personal nature of Christian formation, thus revealing the significance of pursuing God’s goodness, truth, and beauty in the local church and individually. Ford’s final two chapters provide a natural closing to Formed in His Image with two practical spiritual fruits of Christian formation–––humility and friendship.
The Transcendentals and the Local Church: Goodness, Truth, and Beauty
Perhaps the greatest strength of Ford’s Formed in His Image is how he connects goodness, truth, and beauty to the local church. While not neglecting the personal implications of the transcendentals, Ford astutely offers practical ways in which local churches can rediscover and apply goodness, truth, and beauty in their congregations. Rather than falling into the trap of individualism, living out the transcendentals allows Christians to obey God’s command to pursue Christian community (Heb. 10:23-25).
Ford’s motivation in writing Formed in His Image–––to encourage Christians to pursue personal formation by rediscovering the gospel story through the lens of pursuing God’s goodness, truth, and beauty–is a special gift to God’s people. Such a task is of the utmost significance in the face of a post-modern and secular culture that often discourages an objective conception of truth, goodness, and beauty. Ford’s message beckons Christians to return to the simple yet profound redemptive story of the gospel. Only through re-experiencing the gospel story daily can God’s people persevere in their journey of Christian formation. Pastors, laypeople, and skeptics alike would benefit from Ford’s delightful and profoundly encouraging work.