Sunday 22 April 2012

Nixon's former 'hatchet man' goes to be with Christ

Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012)

In his first radio broadcast following his appointment as Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, Jonathan Sacks stated that the glory of Judaism is its belief that the greatest sinner can, by an act of the will, become the greatest saint.

Charles Colson was a great sinner who became, not by an act of his own will but by the grace of God, a great saint.

Colson, once known as US President Richard Nixon’s ‘hatchet man,’ died yesterday aged 80.

Although Colson’s role in the infamous Watergate scandal was limited, he served seven months in jail, after pleading guilty to obstructing justice after he was involved in earlier efforts to discredit Daniel Ellsberg, who had leaked secret government documents about the Vietnam War, which became known as 'the Pentagon Papers'.

In prison, C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity had a dramatic effect on him. Colson came out of prison a Christian and renounced the political machinations of his past. In 1976, he founded Prison Fellowship Ministries and spent the remaining 35 years of his life as a leading campaigner for prison reform.

In 2005 he was named one of Time magazine’s ‘25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America,’ having written over 200 books. At the end of March, Colson was speaking at a conference when he was overcome by dizziness. He was rushed to hospital, where he underwent two hours of surgery to remove a pool of clotted blood on the surface of his brain.

Over the last three weeks, it seemed at times he might recover but last night he went to be with the Lord. Colson was a brilliant man who after his conversion turned his uncommon intellect to defending Christianity and promoting Christian values in the public arena.

Although in his numerous writings, Colson wrote little about Israel, judging by his articles on Islam and the Arab world, and articles by his colleagues, it seems that Colson was pro-Israel.

It was in his novel Kingdoms in Conflict that he focused on Israel to any significant degree. The story is set in 1998, when an Evangelical Christian U.S. president must decide how to respond to a crisis in the Middle East, pondering whether he should act on his belief that Armageddon is at hand.

Colson was a great man and his like will not be seen again.

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