This blog grows out of my conviction that every aspect of our lives is sacred and is to be nurtured and celebrated as a good gift of God. Most of the posts will be the sorts of things you would expect from a historian and worldview teacher, but some are likely to be a bit surprising. Since God created all things good, including all aspects of human life, everything is interesting and important from the perspective of a biblical worldview. Everything under the Sun and under Heaven is thus fair game here. I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Chuck Colson

With all the many tributes to Chuck Colson in the wake of his death, one more would seem to be superfluous. But although I can’t say I knew him long or well, he meant a great deal to me, and I too would like to add my voice to the chorus of people whose lives he touched.

My involvement with Chuck came about by an improbable collection of events that I wrote about briefly in the Acknowledgements of Why You Think the Way You Do. To make a long story short, Chuck was given a copy of a talk I had given on Jonathan Edwards’ worldview by someone who had not heard it. Although he got cassettes all the time and rarely listened to them, for some reason he put mine in the cassette deck in his car. He liked what he heard and wrote me a very nice letter telling me how much he’d enjoyed it, and asking me if I’d like to collaborate with him some time. My mama didn’t raise no dummies, so of course I agreed.

Chuck asked me to teach in the Centurions program, which has been one of the greatest joys and privileges of my life. Why You Think the Way You Do grew out of the teaching I did there. I have taught the Centurion for eight years, and after every live training with only a very few exceptions, Chuck sent me a personal note thanking me and commenting about specific aspects of the weekend. He frequently mentioned divine providence in bringing us together to work on the Centurions … and on other things.

What I didn’t know was that Chuck had a way of finding people he liked and pulling them into projects. As T. M. Moore, Chuck’s theological mentor, once said to me, “Glenn, God loves you and Chuck has a wonderful plan for your life.” Chuck asked me to be the content consultant for Wide Angle; years later he brought me in to bring together the very different styles of Alpha and Breakpoint to produce the Walk the Talk series. He informed me that I would need to be in Princeton on a particular date to film Doing the Right Thing, only this time I’d be on the panel. He had me helping with the workbooks for each of these as well.

Then there were writing projects. I do a bimonthly column at the Colson Center that I suspect he initiated. He asked me to produce a short book expanding on his worldview grid, which should be out shortly if all goes well. I just wish I had gotten it out quicker so he could have seen it. Then he liked one of my talks at the Centurions so much that he asked me to convert it to articles and a video series for pastors. That was the origin of the Christians who Changed their World series. We’re still working on how to make the videos happen.

The point of all this is that Chuck changed the direction of my life in some pretty profound ways. All of my worldview and apologetics ministry, many of my publications, and the future direction for much of my work stem from the fact that Chuck took an interest in me and believed in me. He gave me opportunities to make a difference in his ministry, with the result that my own efforts were multiplied far beyond what I could ever have accomplished personally.

I want to mention two things about Chuck that I haven’t seen in the many tributes to him that I have read since his death. First, when we were working on Wide Angle, he was going over the outlines for the session after breakfast and before we started filming. As he was going through, a particular subject came up that I knew had appeared in some of his other talks prior to this. I don’t know if he noticed a change in my expression as he summarized the point, but he looked at me and said, “Is that right?” I told him, not exactly, and explained it more precisely. He then used the more accurate content in Wide Angle and every time I heard him teach the material since. I don’t know many people at Chuck’s level who are humble enough to look for clarification in areas that they are considered experts, and who can integrate new information as thoroughly and seamlessly as he did.

Second, my wife and two kids came with me on some of the Centurions weekends. Chuck was always very gracious to them and made the time to speak into my kids’ lives whenever he could. Their lives and thinking have been profoundly influenced by Chuck both directly and indirectly ever since.

I can’t claim that I knew Chuck well or that we were close friends. But I think I can call him a friend, as well as a mentor and a colleague. And I know I loved him. I am deeply and profoundly grateful for the difference he’s made in my life and in the lives of Lynn, Elizabeth, and Brendan, and I am especially glad that I had the opportunity to tell him that after one of the Centurions weekends. I don’t know what direction my work will take without him, but I do know that I am part of his legacy. And for any of you Centurions who are reading this, you are, too.

In 1 Cor. 11:1, Paul tells the church in Corinth to follow his example as he follows Christ’s. For me, that verse applies to Chuck and to others like him. Are they perfect? No, and they would be appalled if they thought anyone believed them to be. But they are worthy role models nonetheless. I only hope that I will have sufficient courage and faithfulness to follow in their footsteps, so that with them, I will hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter now into the joy of your Lord.”

Rest in peace, my brother.