Thinking Out Loud

April 25, 2013

Eric Metaxas: The Accidental Biographer

To hear him tell it, Eric Metaxas was as surprised as anyone at the success of his William Wilberforce biography, Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery and his epic-length Deitrict Bonhoeffer follow up with Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, which clocked in at 608 pages.

7 Men And the Secret of Their Greatness - Eric MetaxasThis time around he offers a sampler of stories in Seven Men and the Secret of their Greatness. He draws on material from the earlier books for two of the sections, and the seventh is someone with whom he worked personally; which leaves us with this lineup:  George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, John Paul II, and Charles Colson,  

While I’m not a sports guy, I’ve mentioned here a few weeks ago that the Jackie Robinson chapter was my favorite, and the timing vis-a-vis the 42 movie works out well.  It also typifies Metaxas’ desire to bring us new narrative elements, and new backstory. It as if he is anticipating the question, “Can you tell me something I haven’t heard before?’

Was the inclusion of Washington pandering to a U.S. audience? While I can see the eyes of Brits and Canadians rolling, the chapter allowed the book to reach back into another century. At the contemporary end of the timeline, that Metaxas worked with Charles Colson gave him access to details others would miss.

There is literally something for everyone here: Sports, politics, Catholic interest, U.S. History, etc., and with Father’s Day coming up, this is a title I can highly recommend. If the 608 pages (of the Bonhoeffer book) is too much reading some men, this one is only 256 pages, but is a book to be measured by its depth, not its length. Readers are encouraged to read the chapters in any sequence as I did.

The book releases next week from Thomas Nelson in hardcover in the U.S., elsewhere paperback.

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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

February 2, 2011

Wednesday Link List

We read blogs so you don’t have to!  Or something.

  • Brent Mosley is president of Bluefish TV, the company that makes — among other things — those little two-minute video clips that start your weekly worship service.  He blogs, too.  Check out Is The Church Telling The Complete Story?
  • Speaking of video, it’s been three years since it was filmed and two years since it was released on DVD, but now you can watch Joe Manafo’s detailed 42-minute documentary study of alternative churches in Canada in its entirety at the website for One Size Fits All.
  • A list with ten things is actually easier to produce than when you decide to narrow it down to five.  And these five are well-chosen.  Trevin Wax posts Five Trends to Watch for in Evangelical Christianity.
  • And speaking of Trevin, here’s a video of a church promotion that he (and Zach at Vitamin Z) think is one of the best church advertisements ever.  “Before we tell you who we are, we want to tell you who we were.”
  • Contemporary Christian book author Skye Jethani tells why he doesn’t read many books by contemporary Christian book authors, in a piece at Out of Ur provocatively titled, I Read Dead People.
  • Dan Horwedel whisks you on a link-list journey of his own in a fascinating examination of the Christian worship song, God of This City.  Both the major-key version and the minor-key version.
  • I don’t read — let alone link — to Ann Welch’s blog very often because it’s more of a women’s blog and a parenting blog, but she’s been in the link-list here since day one because she is a blogger who has my utmost respect. Here’s a shorter piece even the guys can take a minute to read at her blog Resolved 2 Worship, titled Dart Throwing.  (Turn your speakers up, too; she’s got a great blog playlist.)
  • Chuck Colson believes that while most Christian children’s books contain a Bible narrative followed by “the moral of the story,” we need to teach kids to recognize the worldview being promoted in everything they read.  And he’s introducing a product that will help them do just that.
  • Pete Wilson raises the oft-discussed issue of swearing, or things that some people consider swearing.   200 comments so far about words like darn, dang, heck, geez, and shoot.  (And then, Daniel Jepson raises the same topic, too.)
  • A woman in a senior’s home invites John Shore into her room, and then dies holding on to John’s hand.  Yikes!  Obviously, readers are wondering why the story is just surfacing now.
  • Albert Mohler thinks that Piers Morgan’s interview with Joel Osteen identifies one topic where we either stand for Biblical truth or we try to dance around its politically incorrect implications.  Mohler says that sooner or later we’ll have to deal with our own Osteen Moment.
  • A Tennessee pastor refused to baptize a couple’s baby because the couple wasn’t married. He wants to make a statement about teen pregnancy.
  • Time for a quick hymn sing.  Here’s a couple of versions of a classic hymn that is well-known in England but not at all in North America.  One version is more modern, the other is most formal, but both of them work.  Check out Tell Out My Soul.
  • This week we should pay Trevin a commission.  If you’ve read the bestselling book Radical by David Platt (Waterbrook), you know all about “Secret Church.”  Well, this year, the event is available as a simulcast for any church that wants in. (Posted even though the event is a Lifeway thing. Look guys; no hard feelings!)
  • Here’s a return of a Link List favorite; Mike Morgan’s weekly comic, For Heaven’s Sake.

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