Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chuck Colson, 1937-2012

I would like to pay tribute with this blog post to Chuck Colson.  Chuck was best known for his role in the Watergate scandal and his subsequent conversion to Christianity after being arrested for crimes in connection with the scandal.  He admitted that what he did was wrong and spoke out against corruption in government from then on until the day he died.  He said that he deserved to go to jail for what he did and was thankful to God that he was caught because he might never have come to know Jesus otherwise.

Most of the rest of what I know about Chuck comes from a book called God and Government which he authored.  The book has a little of what you might expect from a social conservative, but a lot that you might not.  He did a good job a relating how easy it is to become corrupted by power.  Besides giving his own personal testimony, he reminds us about various freedom movements around the world like the Solidarity movement in Poland, the overthrow of the Marcos government in the Philippines, and the toppling of the Soviet Union.  He talked about Dietrich Bonheoffer, a Christian who refused to give in to the government takeover of the Christian church in Nazi Germany.  He also recounted some great stories about events which lead to an easing of tensions between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland.

Like a typical socially conservative writing, he speaks out against some of the violations of the rights Christians and the erosion of morality and integrity in the government.  One example he gave was a case where a church decided to expel one of its members because of an admitted case of adultery.  The government got involved and a judge decided to force the church to take the unfaithful church member back, despite the lack of repentance.  He also opposed same-sex marriage and abortion.

Of course, I don’t agree with everything he said in the book.  For example he uses the word “Democracy” incorrectly and his interpretation of First Amendment is quite flawed.  I also strongly disagree with his embrace of preemptive war (and particularly in the case of the Iraq War).

However he didn’t completely fit the mold of a typical social conservative. 

He expressed some libertarian-leaning views in the book.  For example, he opposed three strikes laws and supported reducing or eliminating sentences for non-violent offenses (e.g. drug offenses).  He talked about how he traveled all around the world making speeches and talking to prison officials to persuade them to improve living conditions for prisoners.  He opposes the torture of prisoners of war.  This issue is not exactly first and foremost on the minds of most Christians today, but nonetheless it is an important issue and it was a great work for the Lord he did.  His efforts in this regard went hand-in-hand with his rehabilitation based prison ministry.

Another way in which he was a little different is that he believed that just because a candidate is a Christian that does not necessarily mean that that candidate is the best choice.   

And although he opposed Darwinism, he believed in the Big Bang Theory, touting it as proof of the existence of God.  This is because the Big Bang Theory includes a beginning of the universe.  The Steady State Theory was an earlier theory which had been embraced by the scientific community and did not include a beginning.

There was one quote from the book that I particularly liked.  I can’t remember it word for word but it went something like this:

There is no such thing as a government which doesn’t legislate morality.  All laws legislate someone’s idea of morality.

Rest in Peace, Chuck.

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