Chuck Colson speaks, John Seel replies  

Posted by Denis Haack in , , ,


Advance or Retreat?
Chuck Colson

BreakPoint June 15, 2010

Can you imagine being suspended from work for walking out on a homosexual sensitivity training session? Or for saying “God bless you” on the job? What would your church do if it were forced by a law to hire practicing homosexuals?

Well, just ask Christians in Britain. Because this is what they are facing. As one British religious freedom lawyer told CBN News, “There’s been a massive move by the secularist lobby to privatize religion. You can have faith . . . just make it private. It can’t affect what you do in the public square.” And unless American Christians wake up, she warns, “This is all coming to America.”

It sure is. We’ve already seen it in our courts, and I’ve warned many times on this program that the gay “marriage” agenda is a direct assault on religious freedom.

For all of the past 18 years on BreakPoint, my message has been simple. Politics is just an expression of culture. So long as we continue to lose the culture, we’re going to lose politically. But the great moments in church history have been when Christians have gotten engaged. And as a result of their work, the culture was transformed.

Well, there is a new book out now, which is getting a lot of play. The author singles me out, critical of my message that we should be trying to change the culture. It’s getting favorable reviews from theologians and scholars. The author suggests that we just take a break from the political wars, and simply be a faithful presence wherever we are. I can’t imagine a worse idea for the times we live in. As you know from the Manhattan Declaration and other things I’ve pushed hard, I believe Christians must speak out more clearly and more persistently today than ever before.

Now, you hear from me every day. Well, I need to hear from you. Is anybody listening when I do these broadcasts? I really want to know whether this message that I have been preaching for 18 years is getting across. Are you getting it? Is your church getting it?

So I’m starting something on BreakPoint today that I urge you to take part in. It’s called “Speak Out with Chuck.” Go to BreakPoint.org or ColsonCenter.org, look for “Speak Out with Chuck,” and tell me what’s going on in your church. Is my message on BreakPoint making a difference? Is it getting through? Please give me some examples.

Tell me whether you think this is the right time for the church to be engaged and speaking out about the issues. Could the writer of this new book be right? That we should simply sit back and take care of ourselves and the church? That is totally contrary to my theology, but I really want to know what the reaction is in the church.

And tell me the kind of resources you feel you and your church need to be better equipped if you are committed to defend the truth in the public square.

I need to hear from you. I promise you I will see every comment at “Speak Out with Chuck.” And on coming radio broadcasts, I’ll respond to many of those comments.

This is your chance to get started and get engaged—and we don’t want to stop there. I’m a great believer that societies are changed from the bottom up. By movements. The vital work of God has always been accomplished by people engaged at the grass roots, networking with one another.

So please let me hear from you. Go to BreakPoint.org or ColsonCenter.org, and “Speak Out with Chuck.”

-----------------------------

Chuck:

There is little from this BreakPoint entry that suggests that you have read with care James Hunter’s To Change the World as you completely distort his point.

Hunter writes that our current over reliance on politics and the coercive power of the state to achieve our own agenda has created a situation where Christian political rhetoric is Nietzschean in character. He does not call for a disengagement from public life, rather an engagement based on self-sacrificing, incarnational compassion for the common good rather than self-serving, arms-length coercion for our own tribe. Nowhere does Hunter say, “Sit back and take care of ourselves and the church.” Rather he says, following God’s guidelines to the Jews in Babylon, get engaged in the Babylonian institutions for your flourishing is dependent on their flourishing. This is the opposite of what you claim that he has said. Best check your sources and do your own reading.

For a thorough consideration of this conversation, in which you are an important participant, please see www.faithfulpresence.com, where a number of comments and reviews, including your own in Christianity Today, are assembled.

Hunter’s point is that the public square is more than political and that our response to public issues must be more than political. Put simply, the cross is being obscured by the flag. The price is the gospel.

Warmly,
John Seel
President, nCore Media
The Visual Supercomputing Company
jseel@ncoremedia.com

[Reprinted with permission of John Seel.]

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6 comments

Anonymous  

A related question is whether there is a difference between CHRISTIANS engaging the culture and THE CHURCH (as the church) engaging the culture. Mr. Colson often cites Wilberforce as a hero (rightly so), but Wilberforce was not a cleric who engaged in official ecclesiastical acts in opposition to the slave trade.

Also, in my opinion, Mr. Seel needs to be more charitable to Mr. Colson and not jump to the conclusion that Mr. Colson has "ghost readers" who do his reading and thinking for him.

June 16, 2010 at 2:00 PM
Raymon  

Denis, thanks for posting this here. Is this intramural "controversy" arising because of a confusion of what it means for "the church" to engage the culture?

There a profound (and some would say Biblical) difference between Christians engaging the culture in their professions and daily activities, as opposed to the church as an institution engaging the culture. A discussion should be had about what the mission of the church (as the institution established by Christ) is and always has been.

So is there a need for people to define their terms for the debate?

June 16, 2010 at 2:11 PM
John Seel  

If someone suggests that you have said the exact opposite of what you have said, it might be viewed as charitable to think that it was "ghost reader's" fault. BreakPoint is researched and written by stringers and Colson has a long history of using ghost writers for his books, so the suggestion has a basis in fact.

The specific role of the church is an important question in this conversation. It's institutional character is critical. But the question is whether the church's influence is direct or indirect, mediated or unmediated. Is it the church gathered or scattered that acts as agents of shalom. Obviously, it's both. But one must carefully consider whether the church is a means or an end. What do we measure? Inward programs or outward impact? How seriously do we take the implications of Jeremiah 29:7, which suggests that the measuring starts not in the Jewish synagogues, but in the Babylonian institutions: when they flourish, you will flourish. Some of this work will be institutional, but most will be mediated through the gifts and callings of those God has brought to a particular church in response to their particular setting. Regarding defining terms, I would encourage a close reading of James Hunter's book and an engagement with the conversation surrounding it as found on www.faithfulpresence.com.

June 16, 2010 at 3:02 PM

Sooooo many comments about Colson.

[bite m tongue, bite my tongue, bite my tongue]

June 18, 2010 at 10:25 PM

At first glance it seems Seel accuses Colson of distorting Hunter , and then makes his point by distorting Colson.

Colson's one sentence summary of Hunter-- "The author suggests we take a break from the political wars and simply be a faithful presence wherever we are."-- may not be accurate (I'm still finishing Hunter's book, so my opinion on this point must wait.), but neither is Seel's reduction of Colson: "Nowhere does Hunter say, "Sit back and take care of ourselves and the church."

Straw men, anyone?

July 1, 2010 at 10:14 AM

Greg:
There is some speaking past one another, that's for certain. I haven't finished the book either, and will write more when I have.

July 2, 2010 at 9:14 AM

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