Colson coddles with BWF
John Dorhauer printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 11:05:29 PM EST
John Dorhauer, Talk To Action writer
Chuck Colson, the Chairman and Founder of Prison Fellowship Ministry, the editor of whose "Breakpoint" commentary program was recently chosen as the new president of IRD, decided to dedicate his radio commentary to his views about the United Church of Christ's (UCC) "effort to drive conservatives out of Mainline Churches."

No one should be surprised that the Biblical Witness Fellowship (BWF) - the UCC renewal group which in recent years has proven itself to be far more responsive to the directives of the IRD than they have been to their covenantal partners in the United Church of Christ - has posted Colson's latest diatribe on their website.

This symbiotic relationship between the BWF and this minion of the Radical right should shock no one. The relationship between Chuck Colson and the IRD is less natural - since the IRD continues to claim that its purpose is to "renew the Mainline churches," and his relationship to Mainline Christianity has been antagonistic and distant throughout his career.

What is most confusing to me is what the founder and chairman of an ultra-conservative Prison Ministry is doing analyzing from such a distance the inner workings of the United Church of Christ. While denying any coordinated attack on liberal denominations like the UCC, he finds himself directly allied with a UCC renewal group (BWF), and the principle attack machine of Mainline Christianity (IRD).

His commentary is filled with misinformation about the UCC - most likely fed to him by someone from within the BWF or the IRD, who each have a long track record of distortion and revisionist history concocted to stir up dissention within the ranks of otherwise content congregations.

Please do not misunderstand me: congregations within the United Church of Christ argue and fight with each other, and with their sister congregations, often. We always have. This is in part due to the fact that there is a lot at stake in our arguments, our dialogue, and our conversation. What I mean to say is that there is no structure within the denomination that forces choices upon us. Each congregation is it's own fully autonomous and governing body. Each Association and Conference of churches is also free from the constraint of choices forced upon them from local churches or our National offices. No one voice represents the whole. And so local churches, Conferences, and National bodies all have something at stake in each and every debate.

It is also due in no small part to the simple fact that we are not a "Liberal" denomination - whatever that might mean. Though always characterized as such by those who, from the radical right, perceive anyone who uses anything other than a literal interpretation to read the Bible, the United Church of Christ - like many Mainline churches - has conservative, liberal, and moderate members in EVERY one of our churches. Our collective choices are not often the same ones demanded by our all or nothing, one way or the highway covenantal partners in the Biblical Witness Fellowship: but that does not prove the accusation that we are a "Liberal" church.
We are a multi-faceted, richly variegated tapestry of liberal and conservative, young and old, gay and straight, traditional and contemporary: all God's children whose viewpoints are never identical - precisely because we have no established prerequisite of thought, opinion, or theology that predetermines our sense of your worth, your value, or your credibility as a Christian. And while this does produce lively and engaging debate and dialogue, it does not cause us to demean each other in quite the way The Biblical Witness Fellowship, the IRD, and now Chuck Colson all do.

The kind of vitriol and animosity engendered by the Chuck Colson's of our time alter the reality of life in our local churches by quite a bit. In his address, Colson asks why the UCC continues its "effort to drive out conservatives from Mainline churches." No body, no institution, no entity within the United Church of Christ has ever done anything of the sort. In fact, throughout its history the UCC and its predecessor bodies have stood at the front of the ecumenical movement, embracing unity with all partners in faith and believing that theological and ideological differences can be overlooked for the sake of Christian unity (which should never be confused the kind of Christian uniformity demanded by the radical right).

Colson goes on to chastise John Thomas for blaming outsiders on the demise of his denomination rather than "examining its own mistakes." And he offers this criticism as if it is a given that because John Thomas publicly named the IRD as an attack agent on our churches, it can only mean that John Thomas sees that as the only cause of a net loss in members in the UCC over the last decades.

How sad for Chuck that his world can so easily be reduced to such simplicity; and how sad for all of us that he cannot countenance the possibility that an ecumenical partner - which has indeed been losing members on a steady decline like all Mainline churches - would not have exhausted every possible and reasonable explanation and remedy for that decline. Would that we could reduce the whole matter to a few choices we have made in recent years that Chuck and others are offended by - but we all know and believe that our world, that our church, is so much more complex than that. And shame on Chuck for making such a public and ill-founded attack on a partner in mission and ministry.

Finally, Chuck asks whether as members of the church in our time we ought follow the Bible, or rewrite our beliefs to be culturally relevant - implying that what the UCC has done is abandon fundamental principles of scripture in order to create the church in a way that, while culturally relevant, is Biblically errant.

Well, the United Church of Christ is, and will always try to be, relevant. The word cultural is a canard used by the right to imply "secular" as opposed to biblical, or faithful, or spiritual. It is a red herring, meant more to distract than advance a rational debate. If faith, if the church, if Biblical interpretation cannot remain relevant then it becomes meaningless.

Chuck knows this. There is no such false choice as the one proposed by him, that one either interpret the Bible literally or become dependent for one's meaning and purpose on a culture that does not know God. His prison ministry is a noble effort to be relevant. He should acknowledge that the United Church of Christ's campaign to tell all that "no matter who you are or where you are in life's journey, you are welcome here" is not only relevant - it is reflective of a Gospel message preached often by the one we know as the Christ.

So shame on him for this new attack. And shame on The Biblical Witness Fellowship for abandoning their covenantal partner and giving voice to one more intent on its demise.

Accuse your opponent of the exact (and opposite) behavior you are guilty of, which also acts an an effective dodge, because they will never be accused of this kind of thing without being able to defend themselves by saying "that's not us, we already warned everyone that was you." This leads me to believe that Colson has consulted the IRD - "effort to drive conservatives out of Mainline Churches" really refers to the IRD's effort to drive out liberals. And it appears Colson is now on board with the PR spin. It's like the far Right accusing Liberals of destroying America and family values - when, to many of us, this is EXACTLY what the Right is doing.

by joelp on Tue Jun 20, 2006 at 12:39:52 AM EST
I find it interesting that in the radio commentary, Colson talked about actions of the IRD, and the work they were doing, and then - still referencing the IRD - used the pronoun "WE" to continue to describe IRD related actions. A mere slip of the tongue? I don't think so. I was at first taken aback by that, and replayed it to make sure I heard it right. The clip can be found on the BWF web-site.
Shalom, Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer "Time makes ancient good uncouth; we must onward still and upward who would keep abreast of truth." from Lowell, "The Present Crisis"
by John Dorhauer on Tue Jun 20, 2006 at 09:20:32 AM EST

brought me back to Christ after many years of disillusionment with the Catholic Church, my original religion. I'll be damned if I'll let Colson, the BWF, or any other "renewal" group take it away from me now. Don't they already have enough congregations of their own where like-minded bigots can gather?

by pattyp on Tue Jun 20, 2006 at 10:35:54 AM EST
Like you, I chose the United Church of Christ after many years as a Catholic. I love this church dearly, and one of the reasons I write on this site is to do my small part to try and protect it from those who dream about its demise, and who work in pernicious ways to bring that about. I too am moved by their message of love and inclusion, and harbor a lot of anger towards those who are not content with being a part of a different church and who feel like they must destroy this denomination.
Shalom, Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer "Time makes ancient good uncouth; we must onward still and upward who would keep abreast of truth." from Lowell, "The Present Crisis"
by John Dorhauer on Tue Jun 20, 2006 at 02:04:29 PM EST

I don't know BWF or IRD or UCC, but I have read a couple of Colson's books, most recently 'Kingdoms in Conflict'. There is a lot of material in that book adamantly opposed to Christian Nationalistic Fascism, or whatever you want to call it, which I find very interesting in the light of current events.
Anyways, back to interpretation of the Bible- It is very hard, maybe near impossible, to be 100% correct right off the bat when reading scripture. Why? Because original words (in the original languages) have been transliterated into English, and then divorced of the full original meaning. Baptism for example, is actually immersion. But what kind of immersion, water or spirit? Is it all water and no spirit, or all spirit and no water, or something in between, and where? So people formulate their ideas, largely following their (usually well-intentioned) pastor, whether or not their pastor is correct. Do they try to find out for themselves? Not usually, because to question the pastor is almost tantamount to challenging God. And people just don't think of it, that they can do research on their own and that doing so is not anti-Christian at all.
Another example- how many people believe in the 'rapture' of Christians into the air (one is taken, another left behind), and yet Jesus told us that it will be like in the days of Noah. What happened in the day of Noah? The people of God were not taken, THEY WERE LEFT BEHIND. I'm not saying I know 100%, I don't. All I'm saying is, why do so many people just accept the idea of the rapture of Christians to spare them from persecution? Was Jesus spared, or the apostles? No. How many have been martyred for their belief? Many. And there are plenty of passages in the Bible that support the idea that we are tested and prooved by God. So there is a distinct possibility that we are in for a very rough time before we die. That sounds more like taking up our cross and following, than floating up on a cloud, IMHO.
But WHY do so many people believe so strongly in the rapture? I think it's because they heard it from their pastor, and their other pastor before him, and the televangelists, and all the books devoted to it (although 'rapture' can't be found in the Bible itself), and their friends, and movies. They assume their pastor is correct, they want to believe that others will feel the pain and not themselves, and they get affirmation and confirmation from many outside sources.
Another example- witchcraft. The popular modern interpretation is completely removed from the original meaning. The original word that has been translated witchcraft is the same root word that we see in pharmaceuticals, or drugs! So, when the Bible is condemning witchcraft it is not condemning an old hag riding on a broom, it's condemning drug addiction!
Proper interpretation of the Bible is very difficult, because of the many, admittedly knowlegeable, interpreters have themselves had a bias of some sort that they might not have been aware of in themselves. And we have overused religious jargon to the point that we might as well be saying 'hocus pocus' as far as it having any meaning to anyone at all. Sad.
But don't get depressed, it's not hopeless. The greatest commandments are to love God, and to love your neighbor as yourself. That cannot be misinterpreted very easily, and if you do those commandments everything else just falls into place.

by Tin Soul on Mon Jun 26, 2006 at 02:19:25 AM EST

I was so surprised when I heard the commentary of Chuck Colson. It is always good to hire top rated resume writing services for help in research paper online. He is seriously misguiding individuals and spreading false information but no one is taking information. This man should be sued.

by Abbot45558 on Wed Jul 22, 2020 at 04:45:22 AM EST

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