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Some Brief Thoughts on Charles Colson [VIDEO]

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Charles “Chuck” Colson passed away this last weekend at the age of 80 after months of health issues. Colson was a leading voice in the Evangelical community, founder of Christian Prison Fellowship, and the special counsel for President Richard Nixon in the 1970’s. Colson served in prison for seven months for obstruction of justice in the Watergate conspiracy and before he served his jail sentence, he converted to Christianity.

My first encounter with Colson wasn’t in prison as his jail ministry as impacted thousands of incarcerated men and women, but with his work as a voice for a distinct Christian worldview in our pluralistic culture. One of my favorite quotes on moral and philosophical relativism is by Colson who said, “The problem is that relativism provides no sure foundation for a safe and orderly society.”

I was challenged by his writings in Christianity Today on issues of intelligent design and the fading impact of Postmodernism in culture in a dialogue with liberal theologian Brian McLaren. Colson showed those who follow Christ an example for pursuing righteousness even when his past as Nixon’s “Hatchet Man” hung over his head.

All this to say, why does he matter now? Colson forced the issue onto Christians and non-Christians alike on the absolute reality of truth that is over arching on mankind, which is the reality of who Jesus Christ is and what he did on this earth. We can learn from this complex man that our actions and thoughts matter, even if a stain of disgrace marks our past. The pursuit of holiness isn’t left to those who have it all together or who cleaned themselves up before they approached God to follow him. The pursuit is based on God saving us and we follow after that moment, mess and all.

Colson wasn’t a perfect man by any stretch of the imagination. He stirred controversy in his later years, and sought ecumenical unity in basic matters of the Christian faith (See The Manhattan Declaration). His legacy is a mixed one, no doubt. We shouldn’t jump to extremes in light of Colson’s accomplishments and failures. Many wish to portray him as great leader of the faith while some will harp on his time as the “Hatchet Man”. Let’s celebrate his life in this truth: Chuck is in paradise today.


For more on Colson: Tim Challies- The Legacy of Charles Colson

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