Charles Colson
Taken from Chapter Nine of the book "New Neutralism II: Exposing The Gray Of Compromise". by John E. Ashbrook
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Almost everyone knows the story of the conversion of Charles Colson. His world collapsed when he was trapped in the Watergate scandal. He was an Episcopalian with no understanding of saving faith. A man by the name of Tom Phillips pointed him to Christ. When left alone he humbly cried out, "God, take me as I am." Shortly after, he was sentenced to prison. He wrote his testimony in the book, Born Again. After his release from jail he founded Prison Fellowship Ministries to help meet the needs of the kind of men he met in prison. Any Christian reading this short summary must say, "Praise the Lord!"

Earlier in this book I mentioned that Colson had joined a Southern Baptist Church in the Washington area but that, according to Colson, his wife was a born again practicing Roman Catholic who taught a woman’s Bible study class in the Baptist Church. That put up a red flag in my mind. That red flag began to snap in the breeze a few weeks ago when I read the book, Evangelical Catholics by Keith Fournier. Fournier, a young lawyer, is Dean of Evangelism and the legal counsel at the University of Steubenville, Ohio, a Franciscan school. Keith Fournier is one of the new breed of charismatic Catholics. The book is his sincere attempt to show that he is truly evangelical and truly Catholic. This is not a book review, but I would have to observe that in the first part of the book Fournier almost convinced me that he is evangelical, In the last part of the book he destroyed all the progress he had made and convinced me beyond doubt that he is Catholic.

The dedication of the book was a shock. It reads as follows:

This book is lovingly and admiringly dedicated to two men whom I count it a privilege to call my friends. They are both great evangelical Christians and deeply rooted in their respective church tradition and heritage. Their course, prophetic insight, and holy example have inspired and fueled my own conviction that the time has come for evangelical believers of all Christian communions to recognize the urgency of these times and rise to call one another brother

To my brothers:
Father Michael Scanlan, TOR., and Chuck Colson

Father Michael Scanlan is the Franciscan President of the University of Steubenville. The foreword of the book is by Charles Colson. In that portion he writes, "The pain and distrust between Catholics and Protestants goes back centuries. The church has often been plagued by wars within her walls, crippling her in her battle against the encroaching armies of secularism." As I have pointed out in other such instances, Colson obviously has little knowledge of the Reformation, The Reformation happens to be the greatest thing that happened to the church in the sixteenth century, not some demeaned war within her walls. He goes on to say, "But at root, those who are called of God, whether Catholic or Protestant, are part of the same Body" Further on he says, "It's high time that all of us who are Christians come together regardless of the difference of our confessions and our traditions and make common cause to bring Christian values to bear in our society." Colson’s conclusion about the author is "Keith Fournier stands in the breach - truly orthodox in his adherence to Catholic doctrine and fully evangelical in his relationship to Christ and His creation."

Later on in the book, author Fournier says concerning Colson, "Several years ago we honored Chuck with our Poverello Medal, our highest award given annually to the man, woman, or organization which most reflects the spirit of Saint Francis in his simple love for Jesus Christ" (1990:205). In another place the author comments on Prison Fellowship Ministries by saying that "The PFM staff and volunteers simply want to touch unbelievers and fellow Christians with the love of Christ. So when their work takes them to predominantly Catholic countries and Catholic environments, they strive to work with Catholic Christians" (1990:202). Throughout the book, to my observation, Fournier's foremost Christian heroes are Mother Teresa and Charles Colson.

Earlier in this book I quoted from Foundation for March-April 1990 in reference to Colson. That article stated, "When questioned as to any doctrinal requirements for participation in his Prison Fellowship Ministries, he explained that because of its nature and scope, it is necessary to make no distinctions on the basis of either religion or race." After reading the revelations in Fournier's book, I understand how Colson could make that statement. He simply sees no differences based on doctrine. This is tragic. It is obvious that Colson was trained as a lawyer, not as a theologian,

Surely the fuzziness in Colson’s view should cause thinking evangelicals to be careful of him and to give him good theological counsel. However, the record shows that he was a speaker at the 1990, 48th annual convention of the National Association of Evangelicals, He spoke at Dallas Seminary in 1989 and was commencement speaker there in 1990. He was on the Moody founder’s Week program in 1985. He has spoken for Jerry Falwell. He was the speaker for commencement at Wheaton College on May 17, 1982, at which time he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws. He spoke for the 1987 annual National Fellowship of Conservative Baptists. The Wheaton magazine, Inform, for Summer 1984 has a story and series of pictures recording Colson’s donation of his personal papers and manuscripts to the Billy Graham Center Archives. In the article Colson gave his reasons for giving the papers to this repository rather than to other libraries which sought them. He said as follows:

I think that as part of the Graham Center, the papers will have the greatest usefulness to others, I also have a deep respect and affection for Wheaton, and I am honored to be an alumnus by virture of the degree conferred on me in 1982, 1 hope and pray these papers will be of some help and interest to others.

The whole incident of Charles Colson and his respected place in new evangelicalism, regardless of doctrine, shows the theological carelessness which is popular in the movement,

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