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Showing posts with label Charles Colson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Charles Colson. Show all posts

Monday, April 23, 2012

How C S Lewis Prompted the Conversion of Richard Nixon’s ‘Hatchet Man’

Charles Colson went on to found the world’s biggest prison ministry

By Francis Phillips

Charles Colson gives his testimony in 2000 (Photo: PA)
At Sunday Mass yesterday in our parish the recessional hymn was written by G K Chesterton. For those who don’t know it I will just quote the first verse as, written in GKC’s inimitable brand of bold rhetoric, it seems apposite to our current political situation:
O God of earth and altar
Bow down and hear our cry
Our earthly rulers falter
Our people drift and die
The walls of gold entomb us
The swords of scorn divide
Take not our thunder from us
But take away our pride.
You get his drift. One might comment that political rulers were ever thus. Yet Christians today are inclined more than ever to feel an isolated group within modern society. Some would say we are certainly suffering unfair discrimination while others, less sympathetic, think we are an aggrieved minority with a persecution mania.

The final line of the hymn put me in mind of Charles “Chuck” Colson who died last Saturday, aged 80. A close associate of the late president Richard Nixon and known as his “hatchet man”, he was brought down by the Watergate scandal of the mid-1970s. What interested me in reading his obituary was that he had become a born-again Christian in 1973 – the year before he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and served seven months in Maxwell Federal Prison Camp in Alabama.

It seems that during the Watergate crisis he had visited a friend, a successful businessman who had himself converted to Christianity. This friend prayed with Colson and read him a passage from C S Lewis: “Pride always means enmity – it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God.” Colson, who was to call his autobiography Born Again, later sat in his car weeping “tears of relief”. Having lost his integrity years before to Washington politics and specifically to Nixon’s campaign for re-election, he now surrendered himself to God.

Members of the metropolitariat are inclined to mock people who have a conversion experience. But Colson’s conversion was no transient emotional spasm. It changed his life. His period in prison indeed took away his pride. In 1976 he founded the Prison Fellowship Ministries, now the largest prison ministry in the world, running Bible-study groups, sponsoring pen-pals to inmates and providing gifts for their children. This was to influence Jonathan Aitken, another disgraced politician and Christian convert, who later wrote Colson’s biography.

Not unrelated to Colson’s political career, I have just come across an intriguing story about Nixon, reported by Timothy Stanley for CNN. He writes that in the early 1970s Nixon told his staff that he was tempted to convert to Catholicism but was worried it would be misinterpreted: “They would say there goes Tricky Dick Nixon trying to win the Catholic vote.” It seems Nixon admired the Church’s intellectual pedigree and her uncompromising defence of traditional values. History is full of “if onlys”.

As today is Shakespeare’s birthday I conclude with a quotation, referring to another disgraced politician, from the grand old man of poetry and politics: “Had I but serv’d my God with half the zeal I serv’d my king, he would not in mine age have left me naked to mine enemies.”

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Remembering Chuck Colson

"Chuck’s life is a testimony to God’s power to forgive, redeem, and transform."
Evangelical Christianity lost one of its most eloquent and influential voices today with the death of Charles W. “Chuck” Colson. The Prison Fellowship and Colson Center for Christian Worldview founder died at 3:12 p.m. on Saturday from complications resulting from a brain hemorrhage. Colson was 80. 

A Watergate figure who emerged from the country’s worst political scandal, a vocal Christian leader and a champion for prison ministry, Colson spent the last years of his life in the dual role of leading Prison Fellowship, the world’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families, and the Colson Center, a teaching and training center focused on Christian worldview thought and application.
Colson was speaking at a Colson Center conference when he was overcome by dizziness. Quickly surrounded by friends and staff, Colson was sent to the Fairfax Inova Hospital in Fairfax, Virginia. On March 31, he underwent two hours of surgery to remove a pool of clotted blood on the surface of his brain. At times, Chuck showed encouraging indicators of a possible recovery, but his health took a decided turn, and he went to be with the Lord. His wife, Patty, and the family were with him in the last moments before he entered eternity.

Revered by his friends and supporters, Colson won the respect of those who disagreed with his religious and political views thanks to his tireless work on behalf of prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families. Colson maintained that the greatest joy in life for him was to see those “living monuments” to God’s grace: Prisoners transformed by the love of Jesus Christ. And thanks to the work of Colson and Prison Fellowship volunteers across the country, there are thousands of those living monuments among us today.

The Colson family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Charles Colson Legacy Fund. Condolence cards may be sent to Prison Fellowship Ministries, 44180 Riverside Parkway, Lansdowne, VA 20176.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

From Our Mail: Manhattan Declaration Issues Somber Update on Chuck Colson's Condition

The Manhattan Declaration was born in the heart of Chuck Colson, and you are among the nearly 525,000 persons who have endorsed this statement of conscience over the past two years.  Many of you have been praying fervently for Chuck since his surgery some two weeks ago.  There have been some encouraging signs about Chuck’s condition during these days, but earlier this morning our friend Jim Liske, CEO of Prison Fellowship Ministries, gave the following update to the staff and supporters of Prison Fellowship:
“It is with a heavy, but hopeful heart that I share with you that it appears our friend, brother, and founder will soon be home with the Lord. Chuck’s condition took a decided turn yesterday, and the doctors advised Patty and the family to gather by his bedside.
As you know, Chuck underwent surgery more than two weeks ago to remove a pool of clotted blood on the surface of his brain. And while we had seen some hopeful signs for Chuck’s recovery—including his ability to talk happily with Patty and the kids—it seems that God may be calling him home.”
We will keep you posted on Chuck’s condition.  Please continue to hold him and the entire Colson family in your prayers. 
Chuck’s life, his destiny, and his legacy are in the hands of God. 
Robert P. George
Timothy George

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Post-Neuhaus Future of Evangelicals and Catholics Together

Charles Colson says the convert to Catholicism helped break down the most important barrier.

From Christianity Today
Interview By Susan Wunderink

When Richard John Neuhaus died January 8, Prison Fellowship's Charles Colson didn't just lose a friend of 25 years. He also lost his partner in convening Evangelicals and Catholics Together. Since its first publication in 1994, "The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium," the group has issued other consensus statements on salvation, the relationship between Scripture and tradition, the communion of saints, and other issues. It is next set to issue a document on Mary, the Mother of Jesus. But can the movement continue without its chief Roman Catholic architect? Christianity Today international editor Susan Wunderink asked Colson, a Christianity Today columnist, what lies ahead.

How will Neuhaus' death affect Evangelicals and Catholics together?

It's a terrible setback because Cardinal Avery Dulles died a month before Neuhaus died. It was like a double-barreled blow. They were the principal leaders on the Catholic side of the dialogue. In some respects, those are two giants of the faith that you can't replace. But God in his sovereignty, his providence, knows exactly what he's doing.

The timing of Neuhaus's and Dulles's deaths is really significant when you realize that Pope Benedict on November 19 in what was otherwise a routine audience in St. Peter's square, gave a homily on justification and fully embraced the position that Evangelicals and Catholics Together had taken [in the 1997 document, "Gift of Salvation"]. He didn't identify it as such, but that's what he did.

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