Chuck Colson: 35 Years of Faith

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CWN.com - Chuck Colson, the infamous Watergate "hatchet man" and chief council to President Richard Nixon, learned many years ago that what appears important is really of no value at all.

He learned this lesson in 1974 when he was indicted for conspiring to cover up the Watergate burglary.

Chuck Colson:  I was stripped of everything, public enemy number one, and thrown into a prison. And that too was a great experience. I look back and I used to look at life from the top looking down. But from prison you look at life from the underside, and you see people hurting and suffering. It changed my whole perspective.

Scott Ross: I remember looking back at that historically, all the events surrounding Watergate... and then your profession of faith. I was a skeptic. I was not walking with Jesus at the time.

Colson: You were not alone.

Ross: Yeah, one of those foxhole conversions. It lasted for 35 years.

Colson: People kept saying to me, how do we know you're for real? Don't judge me now, judge me 10 years from now. And what I realized when God got a hand on my life is that there's no turning back.

I wouldn't turn back for anything in the world. I think about that night in the driveway, when I cried out to God and I realized for the first time what a sinner was, and I realized, I just learned it from the man who witnessed to me. Christ died on the cross for my sins, and I felt so free, but so grateful to God that ever since, I'll do anything God calls me to do.

Prison Fellowship, a ministry working in 113 countries, is committed to prison reform and prisoner rehabilitation. It was birthed because of Chuck's incarceration. He's also written a dozen books The Faith, Given Once For All is his most recent.

Colson: This is a plea; it's a wake-up call to the church. We've got to start being Christians, and Christians know what we believe. We know why we believe it, and we know why it matters, and we can (a) live it and (b) defend it.

Ross: Biblically give an answer for the hope that is within us?

Colson: Yeah, because Scott, what's happened today is that Christianity is being caricatured by people from outside of Christianity because they look at our weaknesses and they exaggerate them. Then you have this whole flood of atheists who are selling best-selling books, and they're defining Christianity.

Why? Because most studies show Christians don't know the doctrines they believe. So what I've tried to do in this book is take the simple basic truths, relate them back to the original church, the early church, the apostles teaching, the Nicene Creed, and show how all of them are shared by all Christians, Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox.

We've got to know these basics and if we know these basics, we'll be able to defend ourselves in the culture and give a reason for the hope that is within us. But with gentleness and reverence, which is very important, and we often don't do that.

Ross: I could extract many things from this book and I've underlined it and so forth, but there's one particular point when you talk about materialism and status for power. You talk about business ethics, or the lack thereof, our neglect of our children, abortions, drug and alcohol addictions, and no-fault divorce, as if there could be such a thing.

Colson: Right.

Ross: All this is happening not only in society, but in our churches.

Colson:  Well, it's happening in the churches and because it's happening in the churches, it's happening in society. I have a phrase I hope our viewers will ponder for a minute and I hope when I say it, that it will haunt anyone who's watching this program.

Ross:  I don't know it. I want to hear this.

Colson: Right, culture is "religion incarnate." Because religion the cult, creates the culture. So, what created the greatness of Western culture was the Christian church. But when the church is sick, then the culture is going to be sick. So we look around us and say, isn't this awful... abortions, bad court decisions, the break up of the family, and social decay.

Look, when I got out of prison 32 years ago, there were 229,000 in prison. Now there's 2.3 million. We are seeing the social costs of the break up of the family. We are seeing moral decay in our society, and we point our finger at those nasty liberals who have done this to us. No, if we're being the Church, that doesn't happen to a culture.

Today, at 76-years-old, the only thing that matters to Chuck Colson is having the right relationship with Jesus Christ and serving the One who saved him 35 years ago.

Ross: Are you a fulfilled man?

Colson: Am I a fulfilled man? I'll tell you one of the most wonderful things about being a Christian is that I don't ever get up in the morning and wonder I'm not doing anything today or if what I do matters.

I live everyday to the fullest because I can live it through Christ and I know no matter what I do today, and it may just be in my prayer time, I'm going to do something to advance the Kingdom of God. Now does that make you fulfilled? You bet it does! And it gives you joy about living.

*Original broadcast March 7, 2008.

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