Thinking Out Loud

April 22, 2012

Tributes to Chuck Colson

Christian journalists and bloggers pay tribute to Christian author and Prison Fellowship founder Charles (Chuck) Colson:

David Shuringa at Think Christian

Colson’s legacy is enormous. Convicted in 1974 as part of the Watergate scandal, Colson – then White House special counsel – was sent to federal prison. Paroled in 1975, Colson began Prison Fellowship the following year, helping to put prison ministry on the church’s radar. When society was saying, “Lock ’em up and throw away the key,” Colson was echoing Hebrews 13:3: “Remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison.” He reminded the church of Jesus’ words: “I was in prison and you came to visit me.” No one can think of prison ministry without Chuck Colson coming quickly to mind.

Sarah Pulliam Bailey at Christianity Today

In many ways, Colson’s life encapsulated the eclectic nature of evangelicalism. His example shaped how evangelicals would promote ministry and social justice, evangelism and ecumenicism, cultural and political engagement, radio and writing, and scholarship and discipleship. 

Ginny Dent Brant at Christian Post

In November of 2009, the Manhattan Declaration was born in the heart of Chuck Colson. This document encouraged Evangelicals, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians to stand for their convictions on the issues of the sanctity of human life, traditional marriage and religious freedom. With nearly 525,000 signatures including well-known religious leaders, this document clearly reminds us what Chuck Colson said in a speech at Harvard Business Schoolin 1991, “A society without a foundation of moral absolutes cannot long survive.”

Chuck Colson trained a new generation of church and lay leaders. He challenged us by warning, “There’s too much of the world in the church and not enough church in the world.”

Emily Belz at World Magazine

A Southern Baptist, Colson remained politically and theologically conservative his whole life, but Prison Fellowship gained a reputation for working with both Republicans and Democrats for criminal justice reforms focused on transitioning prisoners into society. Colson also gained a reputation for working across theological aisles, helping to launch the 1994 Evangelicals and Catholics Together initiative and becoming co-author of the 2010 Manhattan Declaration, a statement on conscience and marriage endorsed by a broad spectrum of Christian leaders and now with over half a million signatures.

Mollie Hemingway at Get Religion

One of the things that made Colson so interesting, of course, was that he actually became a born again Christian prior to going to prison. He was converted in a bipartisan Bible study group.

Here is the essential fact — he converted prior to pleading guilty. He’d been charged with conspiracy to cover up the Watergate burglary right after his conversion. He told prosecutors he wouldn’t plea bargain and he hadn’t done what he’d been charged with. But, he told them, he had obstructed justice and if they wanted to charge him with that, he would plead guilty. They did and he did.

Andrew Jones (Tall Skinny Kiwi)

It was always a joy to respond to Colson. He had an approachable manner, apparently something that he also carried in the White House. And unlike many EC [Emergent Church] critics who never turn up to discuss or defend their criticisms, Charles Colson interacted with us, influenced us, and was influenced by us.

Dale Tedders

The Church of Jesus Christ lost a mighty saint today. His influence will continue to be felt, both here and for all eternity.

Ed Stetzer

Colson’s legacy, like every persevering Christian, is one of a man brought low by his sin, but made new in Christ– and used for his purposes in ways he would have never imagined. When Colson converted to Christianity, the timing of his conversion (1973) led many to speculate about the sincerity of his claim to faith– they thought this might be a “jailhouse conversion.” But nearly 40 years later, Colson’s perseverance lends credit to his testimony.

Other Tributes at Church Blog

Prison Fellowship Video Tribute at YouTube

Colson Center Obituary

Charles W. Colson Quotations

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June 17, 2009

Born Again But Not Evangelical?

laftovers - converted soupI frequently hear people speak of Evangelicals as “Born Again-ers,” so I was intrigued to learn last night that Barna Research make a distinction when surveying people.     They use “born again” to reflect some point at which we confess our sin and seek forgiveness, making Jesus Christ lord of our lives.

But they use a series of questions to determine if a person has what they consider a true Evangelical worldview.    The two are not automatically synonymous.

All this is in my continued reading of unChristian by David Kinnaman, the book that has for some reason become my end-of-the-day reading, which means some days I don’t get very far.   But spending 15 minutes stuck on page 159 last night didn’t help, as I pondered the worldview issues they use to clarify the distinction.

The criteria are laid out at Barna.org along with poll results.   I’ve paraphrased here in question form:

Born Again

  • Have you made a confession of sin?
  • Have you made a profession of faith in Christ?

evangometerEvangelical

  • Do you believe the Bible is accurate in the principles that it teaches?*
  • Do you view God as all-powerful?
  • Do you view God as perfect?
  • Do you view God as active in the world today?**
  • Do you contend that Jesus did not sin?
  • Do you assert that Satan is a real spiritual being?***
  • Would you disagree with those who say that heaven can be earned through good works?
  • Do you believe Christians have a responsibility to share their faith with others?
  • Would say your religious faith is very important in your life?

*This refers to principles the Bible teaches.   You can believe this and still also hold that there’s a problem in the dates of some kings in your KJV or in the naming of a city in your NRSV

**Barna combines these three into one question.   I broke them up because I think we can rush to quickly to answer a question like this.  We need to constantly have our perspective on God in full view.   The linked article refers to 9-point Evangelicals, which I believe to include the two ‘born again’ questions.

***Real being as opposed to idea or concept.   Among those who said they were Evangelical, rather than those who adopted the stringent Barna criteria, this area had the greatest potential for variance.  60% were less likely to agree on this one.

So Kinnaman, again on page 159, defines the U.S. voting population as consisting of

  • 9% Evangelicals
  • 38% Non-Evangelical, born-again Christians
  • 29% Other, self-confessed Christians
  • 24% Those outside Christianity

On page 162, he says to pastors, “In your church on any given Sunday, chances are you have all four of the faith slices represented in the audience.  How are you communicating so that everyone in the  congregation can understand, think about and respond to social, political and spiritual issues in appropriate ways?  In your sermons as well as in the environments and conversations your church facilitates, are you helping to develop people’s capacity to think, act, and pray in terms of a biblical worldview?”

That’s a good question for anyone in Church leadership; or anyone who is part of the Body of Christ for that matter.

born-again-cartoon

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