Evangelical leader and author Charles Colson nearing death (UPDATED)

UPDATED (April 22, 2012): Charles Colson died yesterday, Saturday, April 21st, at the age of 80. From Christianity Today:

Over the span of several decades, Colson became one of evangelicalism’s most influential voices within the movement and to the broader culture. Observers suggest Colson will likely be best remembered for his prison ministry, behind-the-scenes political involvement, work on evangelical and Catholic dialogue, and his cultural commentary.

In many ways, Colson’s life encapsulated the eclectic nature of evangelicalism. His example shaped how evangelicals would promote ministry and social justice, evangelism and ecumenicism, cultural and political engagement, radio and writing, and scholarship and discipleship.

“His demonization in the 1970s has been replaced by lionizations in the 2000s—at least among the nation’s 65 million evangelical Christians,” Jonathan Aitken wrote in his 2005 biography. Aitken portrayed Colson as an important but flawed figure in evangelicalism, “America’s best-known Christian leader after Billy Graham.”

Before his conversion to Christianity, Colson was described as an aggressive political mastermind who drank heavily, chain smoked, and smeared opponents. He served as special counsel to President Richard Nixon from 1969 to 1973 before he was indicted on Watergate-related charges, which led to a 7-month prison term. After his conversion experience, he published Born Again, helping popularize the term many evangelicals use to self-identify. 

Read the entire piece: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/aprilweb-only/chuck-colson-dead.html

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Colson, famous for his journey from hatchetman for Pres. Nixon to founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries and author of several influential books, is on his death bed, according to an e-letter sent out today by Robert P. George and Timothy George on behalf of The Manhattan Declaration:

Many of you have been praying fervently for Chuck since his surgery some two weeks ago.  There have been some encouraging signs about Chuck’s condition during these days, but earlier this morning our friend Jim Liske, CEO of Prison Fellowship Ministries, gave the following update to the staff and supporters of Prison Fellowship:
 
“It is with a heavy, but hopeful heart that I share with you that it appears our friend, brother, and founder will soon be home with the Lord. Chuck’s condition took a decided turn yesterday, and the doctors advised Patty and the family to gather by his bedside.
 
As you know, Chuck underwent surgery more than two weeks ago to remove a pool of clotted blood on the surface of his brain. And while we had seen some hopeful signs for Chuck’s recovery—including his ability to talk happily with Patty and the kids—it seems that God may be calling him home.”
 
We will keep you posted on Chuck’s condition.  Please continue to hold him and the entire Colson family in your prayers. 

As a young Evangelical, in the years leading up to becoming Catholic, I profited from many of Colson’s writings, especialy those about the culture wars and the challenges facing Christians in an increasingly anti-Christian and post-Christian world. His ecumenical attitude and efforts are also noteworthy. May God grant him peace in his final moments and give comfort to his loved ones.


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About Carl E. Olson 1125 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications.