Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chuck Colson and the Conscience of a Hatchet-Man

What's behind the snarky obituaries and media retrospectives infuriating many Christians.
Russell D. Moore

I suppose I should see some irony in some of the more vindictive journalistic pieces slinking out since the death of Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson. It's not that I mind these articles focusing on Colson's Watergate crimes and his rather nasty political persona prior to conversion; Colson emphasized that too. More problematic is the smug undercurrent that somehow Colson's life in ministry to criminals was somehow just some sort of "cover-up" for who he "really" was: a dirty trickster for whom everything was politics. Even as they bury the hatchet-man, some journalists just can't bury the hatchet. And, as they center everything on Watergate, they demonstrate that Nixon wasn't the only one with an Enemies List.

I found myself reflecting this morning on my own hypocrisy in my irritation with these cynical secular editorials and news pieces. After all, I'm the one who rolls my eyes at an evangelical victim mentality that cries "media bias" whenever we aren't represented fairly. In my anger at these writings, I evidenced a spirit closer to Watergate-era Richard Nixon than to the post-Watergate Chuck Colson. Nixon's downfall, after all, was at least partly due to his consuming desire to be accepted by the media and culture mavens of American society. President Nixon's rage was because he really cared what the New York Times and the Washington Post wrote about him. the rest
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.

I have to believe that when Chuck Colson opened his eyes in the moments after death that he didn't hear anything about break-ins or dirty tricks or guilty consciences. I have to believe Mr. Colson heard a Galilean voice saying, "I was in prison and you visited me" (Matt. 25:36). I have to believe that he stood before his Creator with a new record, a new life transcript, one that belonged not to himself but to a Judean day-laborer who is now the ruler of the cosmos. And in that Lamb's Book of Life there are no eighteen minute gaps.

That's good news for guilty consciences, good news for recovering hatchet men and women like us.


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