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Stay in culture war, Colson urges, as man has ‘run out of options&#82

ATLANTA (BP)–“Voices are being raised in our culture that say, ‘Back away from the culture war. We’ve lost it. Just build our separate institutions. Have nothing any more to do with the culture,'” Charles Colson observed.
“This is no time to turn away from the culture around us,” countered the founder of Prison Fellowship in addressing the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference June 14 in Atlanta.
“That would be exactly a sin of despair because it would deny the sovereignty of God,” Colson said.
“Those of you on the front line equipping the troops for the great renaissance, the great renewal of the Christian faith that I believe is coming — preach boldly, but always humbled by the awe that a holy God has chosen you to speak for him and to represent him to a needy world,” Colson counseled.
Twenty-five years ago, he was sentenced to prison for his role in the Watergate scandal. He remembered thinking that his chances for doing anything of significance in the future were over.
“Little could I have imagined 25 years ago this week that God would have chosen to use my life for 15 books, for radio programs that are now on a thousand stations in America, for 50,000 volunteers, for a ministry that has spread across the country, where everywhere I go people are telling me how God has used me to change their lives,” Colson said.
“Don’t quit. Don’t turn away,” he said, reiterating his call to stay engaged in the culture war.
It would be “absolutely the wrong time for us to say, ‘We give up on the culture around us,’ because the signs are turning our way,” Colson said.
Ticking off a list of those “signs,” Colson said the national crime rate is the lowest since 1973, the welfare roles have been cut in half since 1981, teen pregnancies are down and the number of sexually actives teens has declined for the third straight year.
“Abortions are down 15 percent since 1990. And I remind you, that’s during the regime of the most aggressive, pro-abortion president in American history. We’ve still got to cut abortion. Don’t tell me the pro-life movement can’t make a difference in our culture,” Colson said to tumultuous applause.
“The culture is shifting, and it is shifting our way. And this is going to be a great period of Christian renewal in the new millennium, I am absolutely convinced, [because] modern men and women have run out of options,” he said.
The 1960s spawned a “do-your-own-thing” generation that spanned three decades, he said, adding some people have awakened in the 1990s to realize, “When everybody does his own thing, the result is moral Nihilism.”
“And that’s the opportunity for us as the church to step into that vacuum” and say to the “secular world that is hungry and desperate, ‘Look, there is a better way to order our lives.'”
Colson referred to the school shooting tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., as a “cultural watershed” that riveted American attention because it showed two worldviews in sharp contrast.
“Raw, naked evil” is how Colson described the massacre. But the contrast came in the stories of victims Cassie Bernall and Rachael Scott, who were martyred for their faith and for the numerous memorial services replete with Christian content that were televised across the country.
“I believe as we go into the new millennium that the church has an opportunity that it has not had in hundreds of years” — to show the world that Nihilism leads to death while God gives life, Colson said.
“Look at all the ‘-isms’ of the 20th century. Look at Marxism … national socialism … existentialism … postmodernism. All of the utopian promises of the 20th century, all of the promises that man could achieve his final glory here on earth through our utopian schemes. Every single one is lying on the ash heap of history because every one has proven bankrupt,” Colson said.
As people look around for meaning in life they will realize “the only way you can make sense out of life is to turn to God’s revelation on how he teaches us to live.”
In addition to urging Christians to stay in the culture way, Colson said the secular world must see the church as a “loving” community. When Christians demonstrate Christ’s love toward each other, “we won’t have to worry about church surveys and marketing plans; [people] will be knocking the doors down to come into a loving community,” he said to another round of applause.
Colson also urged Christians to “lovingly contend for truth.” If Christians will create loving communities among themselves and for others, as well as become apologists for Christian truth, the next century will be “the most exciting era to be alive in centuries,” he said.

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  • Norman Miller