“Charles Colson seeks to create clones to send forth with his evangelical message.”

Chuck Colson in The Washington Post Style Section This slug sitting atop a photo of the former Nixon staffer and Evangelical heavyweight certainly catches the eye. And even more so when it graces the front page of the Style section of today’s Washington Post.

The article does a fair job of presenting the sincere, measured tone of Colson. You get a feeling of the political warrior who has turned his life around since being incarcerated and released. He’s a pragmatist and an idealist. He’s adamant in his beliefs and willing to argue his point of view, but softly and without concession.

This profile only feeds my conflicted reactions to Colson’s approach to faith, ministry, and politics. In many ways, he remains the same ol’ junkyard dog that knows how to martial forces and impose his will and way of thinking. It’s an admirable trait when you think about his good work with prison ministries and charitable causes. He believes in the redemption of his cause. That is an admirable trait.

On the other hand, he now is trying to create a movement based on his personal Christian ideologies that veer to the far right. Using a term like “Centurions” to describe his followers who have been schooled in his methodologies seems dangerous to me — in the perceptions it creates and the militant connotation the term evokes, hearkening back to the days of the Roman army and commanding legions of 80 to lead Christian soldiers into the battle for America’s soul.

I definitely recommend reading the two-page profile for yourself. Let me know what your read is.

(via washingtonpoststyle)


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Reflections

I agree: I dislike the use of military language being used in this context. To me, it sends the wrong message, an antithetical message regarding what Christ had to say about how to treat one another and how to serve one another. It is just shy of coming right out and saying, "If you folks don't start flying right, we'll see about making you do so."

But I'm also not surprised. The real fears that Colson has, which are detailed in the article come from a lack of understanding the way Christianity is changing and more importantly, why.

I'm just relieved that he only has 640 "centurions."

Your point about a lack of understanding is a good one, but Colson seems to be a well-informed man and Christian. I would gather that it's the cafeteria-style growth of Christianity that bothers him?

I always remember a quote from a poster that "Chuck" had displayed on his office wall while he was employed as one of Nixon's special assistants. It read, "When you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow" nuf said!

I'm going to look for a photo of his office with that poster. Yikes.

It already sounds distasteful and boring to me -- isn't the armies for Christ thing a tired one?

It may be, Elizabeth, but the drum still beats.

“This is the time for us to metastasize and impact society!” Charles Colson

Well, at least, his metaphor is accurate. Cancer kills. Cancer is dangerous and life threatening. It's hard to figure out if his target is moderate Christianity or everyone who doesn't share his extremist views. Either way he and his centurions are as dangerous as any terrorist group wrapped in religious rhetoric and pointing weapons at those they have defined as the evil enemy. What's hard to understand is what his vision of the perfect society is like - ancient Rome, perhaps - highly structured with power concentrated at the top and order imposed by a brutal military. Didn't Christ preach against this model?

Are we all aware that we're on the same team?

I was unable to read the article, but my interest was definately peaked. I came upon his Manhattan Declaration and was left feeling profoundly sad. It seems as though he is very much the same person as he was prior to his incarceration, perhaps even more strident and emboldened now that he believes he has a Biblical imperative. He is a very complicated
character. I have to hope his prison ministry/fellowship bears fruit for the prisoners and I admire his dedication to this growing population who are forgotten by most of society. I believe the fact that the Manhattan Declaration glaringly avoids the imperative to minister to prisoners brings into question Mr. Colson's willingness to truly understand Jesus' teaching. Mr. Colson's arrogance to believe he understands God's will is disheartening. Mr. Colson has a human agenda, not a divine one.