Christian Worldview

Chuck Colson’s Final Speech

Chuck Colson's Final Speech March 30, 2012   (Delivered at the Breaking the Spiral of Silence Conference hosted by the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview) I’m delighted to be on the platform with close colleagues and with Eric [Metaxas], for whom I have the greatest respect and admiration. The job he’s done with two biographies, Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer, are extraordinary. [They are] having a huge impact. The Bonhoeffer book, if you haven’t read it, as I told the crowd this afternoon, go buy it. I’ve told people to buy that book every place I’ve gone because it’s a gripping, riveting read. What Bonhoeffer went through is nothing like any of us are going to go through, but it’s still inspiring to see how he dealt with it. It’s also instructive to see the kind of issues he had to face. He was facing not only the Nazis, but the liberals in his own church. So he was fighting a battle on two fronts as many of us do here in America. Eric is having a really wonderful career. I first met him when he [had] just graduated from Yale. He was in a crowd where I was speaking. And he was the only guy in the crowd asking good questions. So we got acquainted afterward, and I asked him what he was doing. Out of that eventually, through a friend, he came down and worked with us for a while in BreakPoint, writing BreakPoints. And from BreakPoints to Veggie Tales. [From the] sublime to the ridiculous. I’m also glad to see all of you here tonight, because it’s going to be a wonderful weekend. You’re going to be part of honoring a woman who really does embody the spirit and commitment of William Wilberforce, which is what we do every year. This is a big weekend for us. Because we give the Wilberforce Award and we also bring friends like you in so we can talk to you about the things that we’re doing and the issues that matter, and how to equip you to handle them. So this will be a rich weekend. And I’m personally very glad to be here, because this is the first time I’ve been out in three months. I had a little mishap, and I was on the sidelines recuperating. So I am really glad. I would not have wanted to miss this weekend. I was afraid I might have to. What we’ll be doing this weekend is three things you need to know about. We’ll be talking a lot about breaking the spiral of silence and how to break it; the winsome way we have to do it in, not [with] angry finger pointing. There will be some good instruction for you here, which we hope you will take back and put to work in your communities and your churches. We’ll also be honoring William Wilberforce’s memory by [honoring] a wonderful, wonderful defender of human life, I think one of the most effective in our culture today. That will be tomorrow night, when we give the award to Joni Eareckson Tada. You’ll also this weekend be given a task to do. Because part of this weekend, tomorrow morning, is going to be [filmed and] produced in a DVD to be shown around the country. And we’ll tell you all about that and how you can get involved. I happen to be one of those who believe that societies are changed by movements at the grass roots. So how do we get the material out to people so they can use it with their neighbors? I think cultures are changed over the backyard fence and the barbecue grill. I don’t believe they’re changed from the top down. I’ll talk to you tonight a little bit why I think that is so critical right now. Why we so desperately need it. And you’ll be able to leave here and be a part of it. So I know we’re going to have a great weekend together. Eric is as lively an emcee as I’ve ever met. Wonderful, wonderful sense of humor. He had the experience this year of giving the main address at the National Prayer Breakfast, which is quite an honor. Except he upstaged the main speaker, who was the President. If you haven’t seen that you can go to and see the actual speech [and] the reactions of the people at the head table. There’s been nothing like it since Mother Teresa went there in 1998 and talked about abortion being the greatest destroyer of peace, which caused some consternation among President and Mrs. Clinton at the time. So you might want to go to Eric’s website. It’s well worth it. My topic is the cultural environment today. Culture at a crossroads, which indeed it is. What you’ve just witnessed [is the] Department of Health and Human Services attempting to impose a mandate on the church and Christian groups and organizations, [that they] would have to provide insurance for things that violate our conscience, and that we wouldn’t be allowed a conscientious exemption. What’s extraordinary about that is there have been battles over religious liberty ever since the nation was founded. And most of them have ended up in court decisions, sometimes legislative [action]. This is the first time in history (which is why Cardinal Wuerl here in Washington said this is the most serious invasion of the church by government ever) it’s been done by a bureaucrat in a government agency simply writing it and putting it out as law. Normally in a court case you get a chance to argue both sides. But there wasn’t a chance for two sides to be argued this time. It was done by executive fiat. But it’s opportune for us as we meet here tonight. Eric said this is a moment [in] which the church has to learn how to defend itself against this sort of thing, and do it in a way that is constructive. We’re going to be talking a lot about that this weekend. What we’re witnessing in the culture today, the HHS mandate is but the tip of the iceberg, [is] the latest visible manifestation of a growing hostility towards Christianity. Mainly because, and this is always been the case, government officials feel threatened by the power of the church, because we all worship a king higher than the kings of this earth, and that’s seen as a threat. And we’re also seen as wanting to impose our views on people. Don’t let them tell you that. We don’t impose anything, we propose; we propose an invitation to the wedding feast. To come to a better way of living, a better way of life. It’s the great proposal. We couldn’t impose if we wanted to. And we don’t want to impose. In a democracy you can’t. So we need to be very clear who we are and what we do and why we do it. And I hope some of the teaching this weekend will help you with that. What we are seeing now is the full fruits of 30 years of relativism, the death of truth, in the academy in particular, and in public discourse, and the coarsening of public discourse, [the] coarsening of politics. Everybody looks to the elections and thinks the elections will settle this problem or settle that problem. Elections are important. Whoever serves in office, it makes a difference what kind of person that is and what that person believes. But elections can’t solve the problem we’ve got. The problem we’ve got is that our culture has been decaying from the inside for 30 or 40 years. And politics is nothing but an expression of culture. So how do you fix the culture? Culture is actually formed by the belief system of the people, by the cult, which is us, the church, [it] has been historically. So if things are bad, don’t think it’s going to be solved by an election, it is going to be solved by us. When you have a healthy cult you have a healthy culture. When you have a healthy culture you have healthy politics. So it comes right back to us. Look in the mirror. That’s where the problem is. And if we can through the church renew the church to really bring a healthy cultural influence, then there is some hope that we can bring change. I think Eric is right, that this is a moment. This is a moment when the time is right for a movement of God’s people under the power of the Holy Spirit to begin to impact the culture we live in. Desperately needed. This is why I’ve been spending so much time in recent years teaching biblical worldview. Because I think that’s at the root of our problems, and once we can get that understood by the church that [Christianity] is a worldview and we have to live it and express it and contend for it, otherwise it’s not going to be there. We’re the ones who are the custodians of that. [Otherwise] you’ll see the continued deterioration of the culture and all that goes with it. So I think the responsibility has to be taken by the church for a movement that will bring back the authority and the strength and the winsomeness of the cult, which then in turn affects the culture.


Chuck Colson



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