A Baptist divinity school dean eulogized former Watergate henchman and Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson as a man who was not perfect but forgiven and who never forgot Jesus’ words, “I was in prison and you visited me.”
Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, delivered a homily May 16 at Washington National Cathedral before about 1,200 people, including members of Congress and Religious Right luminaries like GOP strategist Ralph Reed and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.
“Chuck Colson was a Baptist but he had a passion for Christian unity that reached far beyond his own denomination,” George said. That, George said, is what prompted Colson, a longtime evangelical leader who at the time of his death April 20 was a member of First Baptist Church in Naples, Fla., to team up with Catholic scholar Richard John Neuhaus to form a group known as Evangelicals and Catholics Together.
George said the same impulse was behind the Manhattan Declaration, a manifesto Colson co-authored with George and Catholic scholar Robert George of Princeton University in 2009 that has attracted a half million online signatures from Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Christians protesting abortion, gay marriage and violations of religious freedom.
“For those who thought that this was just the old political Colson in a new disguise, he reminded them that while citizens in a representative democracy such as ours have a special responsibility, the fundamental issue is not political but spiritual,” George said. “What Chuck advocated was a chastened form of civic virtue based on the fact that Christians hold a dual citizenship, one in this world, and the other, as St. Paul said, in heaven.”
— Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.