The passing of Chuck Colson has generated a host of online commentary from both mainstream and alternative outlets. Here’s our compilation of recent Chuck Colson material:
Michael Gerson of The Washington Post on “the most thoroughly converted person” he’s ever known:
Many wondered at Chuck’s sudden conversion to Christianity. He seemed to wonder at it himself. He spent each day that followed, for nearly 40 years, dazzled by his own implausible redemption. It is the reason he never hedged or hesitated in describing his relationship with Jesus Christ. Chuck was possessed, not by some cause, but by someone.
CitizenLink has compiled a list of Colson tributes from influential Christian voices.
Monomakhos blog on Colson’s life on earth and in heaven.
Robert Crosby of Patheos: “From Watergate to the Pearly Gates: Remembering Chuck Colson”:
Many people questioned the sincerity of Colson’s conversion during these early days, seeing his “newfound faith” as sheer opportunism, an effort to curry favor and avoid potential criminal conviction. One pastor said to him, “Colson, I believe in Jesus Christ and I want to know how we can know if you’re serious.”
Colson answered, “I guess the best way to tell you whether I’m serious or not is for you see what I’m doing ten years from now.”
Also on Patheos, Timothy Dalrymple recalls Colson’s legacy and his experience with Prison Fellowship:
When I think of Chuck Colson’s legacy, I will think of a living parable of how Christ’s grace redeems even those the world called unredeemable. I will think of a man who found his vocation in the pit. And I will think of a congregation in Trenton, New Jersey, and countless others like it scattered around the nation and around the world, inspired by a man who found his calling — and his new freedom — behind bars.
The Ruth Institute blog links to archived podcasts with Colson.
Al Kresta of Ave Maria Radio remembers Colson’s “public Christian witness.”
John J. Dilulio Jr. of The Wall Street Journal on “Chuck Colson and Second Chances” (requires online subscription):
Visiting prisons with him, watching him relate pastorally to prisoners, was an inspiring experience that never got old. Through his ministry, his second chance became a second chance for hundreds of thousands of others. When it came to treating incarcerated citizens, recent parolees, and all persons touched by crime, both perpetrators and victims, with Christ-like care and compassion, he was “ruthless.”
The National Review Online Symposium pauses to remember and reflect. Tony Perkins:
When you can look over the lives of great people, their efficacy in serving others is often in direct proportion to the degree that an event or events in life have humbled them and broken them from self-seeking ways. Going from the pinnacle of power in the office of President Nixon to the powerlessness of prison, Chuck found his purpose — knowing and serving his Creator.
Duane Shank of Sojourners remembers Colson and quotes Jim Wallis:
Chuck Colson and I met for the first time after he came out of prison. We found early agreement and a natural kinship on how Christians should minister to prisoners as Jesus asked us to in Matthew Chapter 25. I was impressed with how Chuck had allowed his own experience of prison and of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ to shape his new vocation which led to Prison Fellowship now the largest prison ministry in the world. It is for that prophetic ministry he will be most remembered.
The Becket Fund calls Colson “A True Champion of Religious Freedom”:
As the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, Colson brought his faith into the public square and refused to back down when his ministry faced lawsuits that alleged a violation of the Establishment Clause.
Russell D. Moore of Christianity Today on Colson, skeptical obituaries, and the “Conscience of a Hatchet-Man”:
When you read those who smirk and dismiss the Chuck Colson conversion, the Chuck Colson life, don’t get angry and don’t be outraged. Read a subtext that belongs to all of us: the fear that the criminal conspiracy we’ve all been a part of will be exposed, and just can’t be forgiven. Read the undercurrent of those who find it hard to believe that one can be not just pardoned, but “born again.” That’s indeed hard to believe. An empty grave in Jerusalem is all we have on which to base that claim, a claim that speaks louder than our own accusing hearts.
Brittany Smith of Real Clear Religion on Colson’s “Better Way of Life”:
Colson emphasized that the real answer in changing culture for the better is renewing the church, but it’s also giving others “an invitation to the wedding feast, to come to a better way of living. A better way of life. It’s the great proposal.”
James D. Davis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel goes “Beyond Watergate”:
This is the Colson who deserves to be remembered. A man who was changed and who brought about change. A man who found himself in something, and someone, larger than himself. A man who left prison, but continued to touch people in fellowship.
Peter Wehner of The Weekly Standard:
In my encounters with him over the years, I found Colson to be candid, encouraging, principled, a source of wisdom, a person of enormous integrity, and something of a touchstone. He understood the inherent tensions of being a Christian in politics and seemed to get the balance as close to right as anyone.
Orthodox Christian Chris Banescu honors Colson’s life on Catholic Online:
We lost an influential and great champion for Christ and truth. Charles W. “Chuck” Colson’s bright light is no longer in the world, but still shines on in eternity as a beacon of hope and faith for current and future generations. His legacy and example will live on in the hearts and souls of many Christians – Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant – who were inspired by his strong faith, admired his clarity of thought and vision, and were reassured by his courage and conviction.
The above links only hint at Colson’s widely-felt influence. The Acton Institute remains indebted to Colson for his friendship and his model for Christian engagement in the public square.