As you are likely aware, Chuck Colson died on Saturday. There have already been many glowing eulogies written about the man from all corners of Christendom.
In slight contrast, a friend of mine remarked that it’s sad that most of the articles in the secular press focus on his Nixon/Watergate years. One such article even (essentially) admitted to having to consult Colson’s web site to see what the man had been up to for the last 35 years. In one sense, this is sad. But in another sense, it’s a good thing. Though Colson was a prominent figure in the “culture wars”, he apparently did his fighting in such a way that he was not the focus.
Put another way, when John Doe heard the name “Chuck Colson”, he had one of two responses — either (1) “who?” or (2) “oh yeah, that Watergate guy.” He didn’t respond with, “oh yeah, that bigoted, homophobic and misogynistic jerk.” What does that say about who (or should that be “Who”) was most obvious in Colson’s life?
OK, to be fair, one John Doe did have that response. But Franky Schaeffer has a history of selling entire books that bash on dead guys (like his own father) in order to prop up his own agenda. So one measly blog post is hardly noteworthy.
Outside of special cases like Schaeffer, the only people who seemed to have a major beef with Colson were from a segment of Protestantism that was far too uncomfortable with his work with Roman Catholics on ECT and the Manhattan Declaration. Now, it has been well established that Online Discernment [sic] Ministries [sic] are wildly Romophobic. So, I cynically asked some friends recently if they wanted to start a pool on which ODM would be first to dump on Colson for his associations with Catholics. After all, they have a history of using not-yet-cold dead guys to prop up their agenda, too.
Ya know what? As far as I can tell, none of them “went there”. Kudos to them.
So that’s all I have to say. I just wanted to praise the authors for not …
(And you thought this post was over ….)
There’s a very prominent Christian blogger out there — we’ll call him Tom.
As is my wont, I’m not giving his real name. My issue is with the actions/attitudes, not the person. Though I don’t have any real desire to give the person any Google juice either.
Several years ago — I think it was in a comment thread on iMonk’s blog — someone referred to Tom as being “irenic”. At first I thought that was a typo, but “ironic” didn’t fit the context, so I hit an online dictionary and found this definition for “irenic”.
favoring, conducive to, or operating toward peace, moderation, or conciliation
And I thought, “yeah, that’s a good description of Tom”. While he had no “Randy Alcorn” moment of major reconciliation, Tom is (was?) a very even-keeled guy who would seek to get rid of the dividing lines in Christendom when they weren’t of primary theological importance. Further, while not specifically addressing their Romophobia, Tom had — on more than one occasion — spoken out against the ODMs for their tendency to wantonly bash their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Heck, he even once had a meal with Rick Warren and came to the conclusion that he is not the anti-Christ (contrary to what ODM authors seem to believe). Tom disagrees with Rick on several issues, but he did not let that stand in the way of genuine fellowship.
So it was rather surprising (and massively disappointing) to watch Tom throw that irenic nature out the window and go for Colson’s jugular. In his article, he expresses “surprise” that others’ remembrances of Colson are uniformly positive. While giving Colson some credit for some of his work, Tom then accuses him of working “against the Lord’s church”, laboring for “outright sinful causes” and “undermin[ing] the gospel”. All of his accusations revolve around Colson’s work and alliance with Roman Catholics and those of the Orthodox faith.
Now — ya want to take the irony up another few notches? Another definition of “irenic” is:
a part of Christian theology concerned with reconciling different denominations and sects
Yeah, I think we can stop applying that word to Tom from now on.
UPDATE: Since I started writing this, one of the ODMs did “go there”. But it’s pretty obvious from the ODM article that Tom’s article was both the impetus and inspiration for the ODM article. So Tom still retains a good bit of his uniqueness.