Charles Colson’s “Ecumenism of the Trenches”

Charles Colson

Charles Colson (1931-2012)

This morning in the National Catholic Register, I was saddened to learn of the death of Charles Colson a few days ago. (The NCRegister piece is moving and worth reading.)

Even in the far orbit of the evangelical sphere I’ve been in for so many years, I knew and admired Chuck Colson. He was one of the most vivid examples in our society of the radical, life-changing, revolutionizing power of the Gospel of Christ. Once Richard Nixon’s “hatchet man,” known for his political ruthlessness, and implicated in the Watergate scandal, Colson gave his life to Christ after reading C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. After a term in prison, he devoted the rest of his life to Christian service and advocacy.

A few months ago, in one of my many thrifting runs and book hunts, I picked up a copy of Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission, a collection of essays edited by Colson and his friend Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus (who, I see, was also a convert, a former Lutheran pastor). The message of the ecumenical document they together helped draft: that in the face of the challenges of the modern world, Catholics and evangelicals should stand together as witnesses.

I applaud these efforts. Now more than ever, we Christians should strive for cooperation and understanding if not unity. It is my hope that through my conversion and witness, I can reach out especially to my evangelical brothers and sisters to dispel mistaken ideas about Catholics and foster a spirit of acceptance and accord.

Requiescat in pace, Charles Colson. May God guide you to your reward.