Book Review: The Colson Way

Get The Colson Way by Owen Strachan here.

In The Colson Way: Loving Your Neighbor and Living with Faith in a Hostile World, Owen Strachan provides Christians a stellar resource in how to navigate and respond to the growing hostility aimed at traditional Christian belief.  Using the life and ministry of Charles (Chuck) Colson as a lens, Strachan helps believers see that they too can engage the watching world with the good news of Jesus Christ in a winsome and courageous way.

Here’s my take on the book: You should do everything you can to buy it today and read it as soon as possible. People of all stripes will find much to reflect upon and be challenged by in its pages. Biography, political intrigue, friendship, redemption— it’s all there, in a flowing narrative of the White House insider turned worldwide advocate for Christianity.

The book reminded me that nobody can outrun the God who pursues them. Colson was at the top of the political and cultural food chain. He moved among the highest places in the nation’s capitol. Yet, the high places of this world reside at the kids’ table compared to the Name above all names. This book reminded me that anyone (even Charles Colson!) can be humbled by the middle-Eastern Rabbi who died for his sins and rose again.

After reading, you’ll be reminded that God has a knack for knocking down those who seemed immovable and raising them up with a new life and mission. The Apostle Paul was one such man. We see another in Charles Colson. And who knows, perhaps the person you think will never bow their knee to Jesus is the exact person whom God is after. This book reminds you that God can save anyone through the gospel, and he just may use you to bring it about (just as it was a personal friend who shared the gospel with Chuck).

The biographical sections are of immense help in expanding upon the significant events and institutions surrounding Colson’s name: Nixon, Watergate, jail, and Prison Fellowship. His influence on evangelicals in the latter 20th century cannot be overstated. He was a brilliant thinker who helped Christians understand vital cultural issues, not least of which was the need to defend the fundamental right of religious freedom.

Strachan doesn’t canonize Colson; he acknowledges Chuck’s shortcomings. Still, he helps readers, especially the millennial generation, see why they can’t sideline Charles Colson as a figure of the past. He has something to say to us in the present. (And hey, millennials can’t help but respect that Chuck “wore thick, dark glasses before they trended globally” [xxiv]. He was prophetic in more ways than one).

But this isn’t a book just about Colson. If you’ve been saved by Christ and champion his name, it’s about you too. At the end of each chapter, Strachan transitions to address the reader. He helps readers see how they can emulate Colson, and, even more importantly, how they can emulate Christ. Colson has much to teach us about loving our neighbors (even those who return our love with hate). We need a sturdy and courageous guide on this journey, and Strachan pairs us with Colson to watch and learn.

This is a book for you if you feel like Christianity is more and more on the losing side of things. That’s too small a view of history. Let’s not forget that our Savior is reigning supreme over all things, including the times. This book is for you if you feel it’s safer to stay quiet about your beliefs than to champion them. As Christians, “we must not privatize our convictions. We need to out our faith in the rough-and-tumble of a fallen world” (139). Let Charles W. Colson, through The Colson Way, help you live the courageous Christian life that Christ calls you to.

QUOTABLES

“We need to recover Colson’s confidence in the gospel and act on it. Our context does not need a specially tailored salvation for modern ears. It needs the simple message of salvation. The gospel saves sinners” (56).

“Many believers today are knocked off-kilter by the strong anti-theistic spirit of our time. We feel as if there is a big bad atheistic wolf waiting to devour us around every corner, and so we hide our light. It is good to be prepared and to be as theologically grounded as we can. But we also need to get off the couch. The darkness of our world should not stop us from expecting God to show up” (57).

“From nearly the start to the finish, those who follow God have a remarkable habit of ending up in jail. There is often a direct connection between obedience to God and incarceration” (63).

“It doesn’t take organizational genius to start ministering to needy people in our communities. One need not be a CEO to love one’s neighbor in tangible ways” (106).

“As a speaker at his 2012 memorial service noted, on an airplane flight [Colson] told a fellow passenger who antagonized him, ‘Fellow, do you know who you are messing with here? I’m an ex-Marine, ex-con, and if I wasn’t a Christian, you’d be on the floor.’ He then shared Christ with the man” (141).

 

 

 

 

 

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