From belief to action -- not the other way around

In the past week, a great deal of the cultural commentary about Chuck Colson (even among some Christians) has gone something like this: Yes, he did a lot of good among prisoners, but unfortunately he got embroiled in that culture war stuff and became all Religious Right-driven, and isn't that too bad. Salon's Sarah Posner provides an example of this type of thinking: "Colson is probably best known to the general public for his Prison Fellowship Ministries, but he has left an indelible mark on the culture-war battles that will define the 2012 election."

And she's just one of many examples. The other day in a blog comment section, some man who had never met Chuck took it upon himself to inform me -- a woman who knew Chuck personally and worked for him for ten years -- that Chuck was anti-woman. You couldn't make this stuff up if you tried.

The truth is, this "Chuck's beliefs negated his actions" line of thinking is not at all how it worked. In fact, it's exactly backwards.

All of Chuck's humanitarian efforts flowed out of his Christian worldview: a worldview that viewed every person -- male and female, straight and gay, young and old, from the unborn baby to the hardened criminal -- as made in God's image and valuable in God's sight. Every cultural and political position he took was based on what he humbly but fervently believed -- based on his careful study of the Bible, theology, history, and the culture -- was God's best for individuals and for society. He looked at prisoners and saw products of broken homes, victims of bad teaching, the breakdown of moral and ethical values in our society. And he knew that there could be no lasting change in their lives without moral reform inspired by a Christ-centered worldview.

As he and Nancy Pearcey wrote in How Now Shall We Live?: "Family life is the 'first school' that prepares us to participate in the religious, civic, and political life of society, training us in the virtues that enable us to place the common good before our own private goals. . . . We must explain what it means to live within an objective, created moral order instead of perpetuating the chaotic reign of the autonomous self."

If the world chooses to understand those views as being solely the provenance of the Religious Right, well, that's what's too bad. Because if those views were more widespread -- if people all across the political spectrum took them as seriously as Chuck did -- then there would be a lot more people working as hard and as selflessly as he did to help "the least of these."


It seems as though we've heard all of this before about the Puritans, Pilgrims and the Founding Fathers. I, for one, am very thankful that, with all of their faults, they were the ones who laid the intellectual and moral foundation for America. For if it had been this current crop of their detractors, I suspect the end result would have more resembled the mindless butchery and chaos that gripped France just a few years later.
I'm terribly sorry, Gina, that you and the rest of the PFM staff have to be exposed to slanders of a hero. Please remind yourselves, as needed, that some of us never met Chuck, but agree with your assessment of his character.

And I'm sure Jason would know for certain, but is something properly called a "war" if only one side is engaged in the battle? If only the Left is taking part, wouldn't it be called a conquest? Thank God for Chuck, Schaeffer, and all those who stood bravely in opposition, in spite of the risk to their reputations.
Gina, I too have noticed this "trend" among commentators, or worse. Thanks for expressing so well the frustration I feel when I read statements about Chuck which are so irrational and unjust. It really does show us what's in their hearts, doesn't it?
Well stated, Gina. And praise God for the opportunity for you to state it again. It's a popular myth of our culture that our society is grand and glorious *in spite of* the Christian Church that has been so oppressively run by a bunch of kill-joys.

How I loved reading Rodney Stark's _The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success_ (, which I never would have heard about if I hadn't been listening to Chuck on the radio. Professor Stark makes an excellent case that Western Civilization rose to prominence directly because of the Christian ideal that every person is made in God's image, is valuable to Him, and will each be equally accountable to Him after their earthly death.
Great article. It was that book that really showed me true Christianity. I have to admit when I got accepted to the Centurion program I still wondered if Chuck was the real thing or would he only make an appearance at the retreat and then leave.
I realized quickly that he indeed was the real thing. That his belief created his action. He was there the entire week-end, attended every session, ate with us, talked with us, and treated us as his Christian brother and sister.
I walked away from that week-end thinking to myself that I wanted my Christianity to be as real in my actions as Chuck's is in his actions.
As others try to put labels on Chuck there is only one true label, Chuck was a Christian thru and thru.
A giant voice in the wilderness was silenced last week-end but his light shines on.
Well Said, Gina
Well said.

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