Charles Colson Talks About The Faith

Chuck Colson, as a part of his blog tour for his new book "The Faith", honors my humble little blog today.

Ajj100Animateddelayed-3TSK: Congratulations on your ambitious yet comprehensive book. Well done!!!!! I know its risky but I admire your efforts to join with the other streams of the holy apostolic catholic church in gaining a wider, fuller more accurate understanding of the faith and I applaud the breadth of those authors you reference. I am familiar enough with your writings to know that "postmodern" is a negative word in your vocabulary, synonymous with "relativism". But I am also close enough to the emerging church scene to recognize that "postmodern" can just as easily mean "committed to context" or "open to the past". However, despite our disparate journeys and the words we chose to define them, I think many of us are finding ourselves on a similar a quest to rediscover the historical foundations of our faith or, as D.H. Williams put it, to "retrieve" the Tradition that has informed our practice through the centuries. So my question is "Why now?"

Powell Charlescolson-1-1Chuck Colson: "I do understand the way in which you use the postmodern era. And of course it has some good aspects to it. For one thing, the reliance on experience enables us to make our personal encounters with Christ more relevant to people. But your focus on “retrieving” the tradition is very valid. A lot of the emerging church people get this—they want to go back to our roots; they want to find that original apostolic Christological consensus. I applaud that. You will notice in chapter 4 of the book that I distinguish between the “emergent community” which rejects the Bible, and the “emerging movement.” There’s much about the emerging movement that I applaud."

TSK: Thanks Chuck. Actually, I don't think I have come across an emerging community that rejects the Bible [there probably are some – maybe I should get out more!] but I have found a few that have rejected an overly scientific, reductionist approach to interpreting the Bible reminiscent of Enlightenment thinking, a Scottish common sense realism, or even a semi-gnostic view that is disconnected from time and space. But there are many communities and individuals who have begun to ask how the Christian church has understood the Faith since the beginning, not just the past 400 years. Your book is an encouragement in that quest. Hope the rest of the tour goes well for you. Thanks again for your response.

Check out the whole tour:

0310276039-1March 5 – A I PowerBlog
March 5 – The Dawn Treader
March 6 – Reasoned Audacity
March 7 –
March 10 – Adrian Warnock
March 11 – Tall Skinny Kiwi
March 12 – Mark D. Roberts
March 13 – Rebecca Writes
March 14 – Jolly Blogger

My thoughts on "postmodernism" if I was to use the word around church folk (i don't any more)

Technorati Tags:


Charles Colson will be turning up here on Tall Skinny Kiwi to chat about his new book called The Faith. March 11. Be here! I am just reading through the book now so I can ask an intelligent question for Charles to answer. He is an interesting guy who was previously known as he "hatchet man" for President Nixon and once described in Slate magazine as the "evil genius behind the evil administration", which sounds to me like a line from an Austin Powers movie. Should be interesting.

I have talked about Colson back in 2003 when he wrote an article on postmodernism and I don't think we saw eye to eye. Later on, things came to a head when Colson wrote Soothing Ourselves to Death and I responded with Reclusing Ourselves to Death? But it sounds like we are all in a happy place now, and its good to see emerging church people quoted in Colson's book. And anyway, he is my guest next month so I will have to be nice to him.
The blog tour is here.

Update: Charles Colson passed away April 21, 2012. I will miss our banter. Much respect to this great man. My thoughts on our conversations here.


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • Earl Barnett says:

    While I rarely agree with Chuck Colson, I do have a great amount of respect for his faith and intentions. I’ve found his radio broadcasts promoting this book to be thought provoking and worth interacting with. I’m too poor to go out and buy it right away, so I am very excited to see that someone is interacting with the material and the author.

  • Helen says:

    One of our Off The Map bloggers helped him correct an erroneous interpretation in a book manuscript regarding a Dawkins quote – I’m not sure if it was in this book or a subsequent one to be published later.
    It’s always good to be nice to people (imo). I imagine there are some differences in opinion between the two of you.
    I’ll be interested to read how your chats with Chuck go.

  • Steve says:

    Heard James Dobson interview Chuck Colson this morning on my way to work. It was an interesting pitch for his book, which I am thinking about buying.
    I am part of a semi large church ( 1000) members that is going through some identity problems as we search for a new pastor.
    We, four couples, have started a home group to see where we are to be heading. We are not content with the corporate church that we have had for the past many years and hope to find out if we are in Gods will, and how we can find it if we are not! That was a mouthful, but we really want to find our place in God’s kingdom and get on with what He has for us to be and do. We were told by the church that we should go through a two year training program before we start, but we all feel mature enough to do what we are doing. Hope that doesn’t mean we are being rebellious.
    Anyway, appreiate your posts on the home and emerging church.

  • Just checking — is Chuck’s session still going to be here today? I want to be able to link to it from The Point. Thanks!

  • andrew says:

    hi Gina. Michael from Zondervan told me that Chuck is running a little behind schedule but will get his response to me soon. thanks for asking.

  • Great — thanks!

  • andrew says:

    hey – i am in london, hopping on a plane to USA. if anyone is waiting for me to respond to their comment, they might have to wait for a while.

  • Tony Jones says:

    I have probably visited more (U.S.) emergent churches than anyone over the last three or four years, and I have yet to find one that “rejects the Bible.” Seriously, I can’t even find any that are leaning toward Unitarianism or Universalism. Not one.
    I’d be interested to know which churches, exactly, Chuck has visited that has led him to this conclusion.

  • David says:

    rejects the bible usually means, “rejects my reading of the bible”
    “biblical” is pretty much the dirtiest word out there right now.

  • andrew says:

    Hey – in Colorado now. sorry about the delay.
    Tony – thanks – i also am scratching my head trying to think which one he is talking about. And i have seen quite a few emerging churches and their leaders like yourself.
    and David. Yes – i used the word “biblical” in northern ireland a while ago and my audience was quick to point out (it was interactive) that by that word I meant “what I consider biblical by my interpretaion” rather than “what this passage means to me and therefore must mean to everyone else.

  • Andrew Kenny says:

    By using the word ‘biblical’ Chuck Colson would probably have meant something along the lines ‘what the Church throughout the ages has considered to be essential for ‘salvation’ ( another word that needs to be defined)and clearly stated within the pages of Scripture’.Is there a basic doctrine or essential gospel that can be gleaned from its pages? Paul certainly believed that what he taught and wrote about was clearly defined even pronouncing a curse on those who taught a different gospel. If anyone can take a verse from here and there and invent a new doctrine we are in deep trouble.If we start to judge the Bible in a superior way ( e.g.the Bible is like a member of our community, we listen to it along with John and Joan and Bob)rather than let it judge us; again we are in deep trouble.Have we lost the fear of God that causes us to tremble at his word? If we have, we are the losers and are in danger of making a god in our own image.

  • Makeesha says:

    colorado eh? well, welcome to our fair state.
    oh and for the record, I’m with Tony and Andrew and others – I haven’t found one single emergent person who has rejected the Bible by any stretch of the imagination.

  • Haven’t read Colson’s book and don’t plan to, but I am confused by his distinction of the emergent community and emerging movement. And does Colson really have anything to bring to either discussion? My guess is not. I celebrate his prison work, but he may be out of his depth this time.

  • Thanks Chuck.
    It’s guys like you that put my job in danger, put my family at risk of not being able to afford to eat next week, and in general, tear my life apart.
    I’m an associate pastor at an evangelical church in the US and because of my involvement in emergent (charlotte cohort) I’ve come under intense scrutiny from church members who read ingnorant, blanket statements like these. They’re all but calling for my head here because people they have come to respect over the years don’t have the integrity to do actual research and be fair. I guess honesty doesn’t sell books though.
    So yeah, thanks Chuck.

  • Makeesha says:

    Jonathan, man do i ever feel that pain.

  • Makeesha says:

    Chuck – that’s a very good point. I understand the “need” these people feel to explain this stuff to “their people” but they are so far removed from it all the best they can do is ill informed broad stroke caricatures that end up being more hurtful than helpful. A local charismatic mega church pastor is going to be giving a message on emerging (my parents go to his church) and his only information is from the internet. I emailed him to suggest he talk to me and others in our community in person as well as those in our emergent cohort – no surprise that 2 months later I have yet to be taken up on it.

  • jake says:
    this is great dialogue.
    i love it.

Leave a Reply