Perhaps the most controversial aspect of Colson's ministry was his ecumenical pursuits. Along with Timothy George, J.I. Packer, and other Protestant leaders, Colson contributed to the official statements of Evangelicals and Catholics Together. He was also involved with the Manhattan Declaration, a statement that was significantly less ambitious than ECT, but still focused on common Christian views of morality.
The upside of Colson's bridge-building was his reflection of Christ's heart in pursuing unity. Jesus' prayer for Christian unity and the need for a united Christian witness motivated these ecumenical endeavors.
The downside of this bridge-building was that Colson seemed to walk back and forth across bridges that weren't always there. He tended to overstate ECT's ecumenical implications, suggesting there was broad agreement between Catholics and Protestants, when in fact, the joint statements did not reflect the official positions of the Roman Catholic Church or the major Protestant denominations. Likewise, the statements themselves (under significant scrutiny) sometimes allowed both sides to continue affirming the same positions because they could pour Catholic or Protestant meaning into common words.
Though I didn't always agree with Colson's decisions in these areas, I appreciated the constant reminder that the day is coming when God's Kingdom won't be divided up into denominations. Colson thought we should bring people together in anticipation for that Day.
I thank God for Chuck Colson. He was a man who sought to use his platform to be a faithful witness to the grace and love of Jesus Christ.
Others will speak of his prison ministry, his political involvement, and his keen understanding of the times in which we live. But I'm thankful personally for the way he helped me think. He was a man who pointed pilgrims and wanderers to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In Colson's words:
"Either we are pilgrims looking for answers in order to make sense of our world, or we are wanderers who have turned off onto byways of distraction or despair, alienating ourselves from wonder. If you are reading this book, you probably are a seeker. That's good. To be alive is to seek."
Trevin Wax is managing editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum line developed by LifeWay Christian Resources for all ages. This column first appeared at TrevinWax.com, a Gospel Coalition blog. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/Baptist Press) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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