Charles (Chuck) Colson: “Review of Life Sentence”

Charles (Chuck) Colson: “Review of Life Sentence”

“What a strange collection of people: the one-time Nixon loyalist, a recovered alcoholic and liberal Democrat senator from Iowa, a member of the Black Panther Party and avowed Marxist revolutionary out on bail, and an ex-Ku Klux Klan terrorist doing 35 years in prison. Here were men who represented opposite poles culturally, politically, socially; it would be unthinkable in the worlds eyes that they could come together for any purpose. Yet on this night they prayed together, wept together and embraced joined together by the power of the Holy Spirit in a fraternity that transcends all others” (p. 173).

This description of reformed sinners praying together is a most interesting one to read about. Yet only a few years earlier, the company that Colson would have kept were far from humble enough to pray together, unless one believes Oliver Stone’s 1994 fictional movie of the Richard Nixon years, when the viewer sees Anthony Hopkins, who plays Nixon, on his knees in the White House, with an embarrassed Henry Kissinger forced by Tricky-Dick, to pray with him.

We also know from those infamous and abhorrent White House transcripts, that can now be heard online, that J***s C***t J*** and ****damn were all favourite throwaway words that Nixon’s inner cabinet used so loosely, including brother Colson. Yet in the midst of such blasphemy and disregard for the sacredness of the Holy Father & Son, one disgraced man would indeed come out of this sordid administration with a newly found passion for fellow cons, after himself serving 7 months for his part in the Watergate scandal; and would transcend how American prisoners would now be treated, and more importantly, would be given the green light to carry the word of God into every prison not only in the US but also in 83 countries.


Like all books written by wealthy and high profile people in society, I always find it interesting when they casually drop into the conversation, information that they fly in private jets (pg. 100) or how one’s son was a student at the exclusive and expensive Princeton university (p. 146).

And with such a privileged lifestyle like this one, it shouldn’t surprise the reader too much when they discover that Mr. Colson, long after leaving the White House, would still be able to meet with President Nixon, who said the following to Chuck, when learning of his conversion to Christianity:

“One thing, Chuck. You aren’t seriously thinking of getting involved in religious work, are you? I mean, you are going to do something else with your life, I would think” (p. 28).

And with such high profile contacts as this, it comes as no surprise when Chuck is able to personally go and talk to Senator James Eastland, head of the US Judiciary Committee, to discuss plans for Chuck’s prison work. When nothing came of this meeting, Chuck was then able to visit Norman Colson, head of the Bureau of Prisons. Successfully, Colson was able to sell his proposed prison programme to Mr. Carlson, who had the authority and power to implement Colson’s prison ministry. And with Mr. Carlson now on board, Chuck’s new nationwide prison programme was now born.

I also found it interesting to see his continual endorsement of controversial men such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whom he seems to put on par with the Roman Catholic Augustine (p. 100).

Colson also praises and quotes the following individuals:

  • R. C. Sproul would give him private theology classes (p. 283)
  • Adrian Rogers would agree to be his honouree chairman in his Memphis community (p. 215)
  • Freemason, General Douglas Macarthur [Billy Graham, in his autobiography, also quotes this man too] (p. 209)
  • Alexandra Solzhenitsyn (p. 134)
  • Soren Kierkegaard (p. 136)
  • Tory MP, Michael Alison (p. 139)
  • William Wilberforce, a human rights advocate who fought for the abolition of the slave trade (pg. 150.)
  • Roman Catholic writer, Malcolm Muggeridge (p. 152)
  • Homosexual Labour MP leader of the House, George Thomas [although this wasn’t publicly known at the time] (pg. 140).

We also discover how Billy Graham would assist Colson at different times and in different ways (pp. 169; 246-7).

It is unfortunate to note that Billy Graham’s ecumenical and inter-faith ministry, appeared to have rubbed off on to Chuck, for we read the following, during one of his Canadian morning prayer breakfasts:

“I feel we need to pray. Please bow your head with me [Canadian former Prime Minister Diefenbaker.] At the tables filled with ambassadors from every continent, there was a murmur as translators whispered the instruction; then all heads were down, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and non-believers alike. Thank You God for speaking to us this day, Diefenbaker began. I, for one, will pray. Then he paused, his voice cracking as he fought back the tears. I will pray this day and every day hereafter, he continued struggling, for the Prime Minister” (pg. 228.)

The reader will notice that Jesus is NEVER mentioned once, and this is important, for one of the main stumbling blocks of the ecumenical and inter-faith movements is sadly, Jesus Christ. If they could just move Him out of the way (John 14:6; 1 Tim. 2:5), then this horrendous movement could then really blossom. Some might think that Mary is or was the stumbling block, but she isn’t, for all false religions have their female deities, so Rome with hers just simply renames her Mary. (Please see our articles on Catholicism for more info).

Won’t back down

I found it interesting to read how his Roman Catholic wife wasn’t very keen on her Christian husband entering the ministry full time. As Chuck says in this book, “it was a private religion to her.” Yet in time, she came around to the idea and would in the end fully throw her weight behind him.

I would have to credit Chuck for standing up, on live TV, to the tough Barbara Walters, for he did speak about his faith in Jesus, and I would also have to credit Chuck for holding his tongue and controlling his temper when continually provoked to retaliate by the late Lou Gordon (pp. 198-199).

He would also have a run in with the father of the late Martin (Michael) Luther King Jr, who was known as Daddy King, when Chuck criticised the living conditions in a prison in Georgia. Keen to avoid making this even worse, for the local press had got hold of it, Chuck travelled to this prison and was surprised to see Mr. King not only present but taking the side of the prison warden, who bitterly contested Chuck’s comments about his shoddy prison. During a well-orchestrated PR tour around the prison, with media in toe, Mr. King refused to enter the Maximum Security wing, for the man that had murdered his late wife, was being detained in one of those cells (pp. 182-190).


As already stated above, Colson is regrettably not only ecumenical but would also receive from Freemason, John Templeton his annual Templeton prize-a modest $1 Million dollars.

Other recipients of this prestigious award are Billy Graham, ‘Mother Teresa’, a New Ager, an evolutionist, a Buddhists and a Hindu lawyer.

One might have hoped when Chuck was invited to address the Catholic Churches headquarters in Washington DC, he might have reprimanded and rebuked them for their blasphemous transubstantiation/mass, but alas, he didn’t. And for me, this is most disappointing to have to report to the reader (p. 233.)


With Chuck, as recorded above, singing the praises of men such as Wilberforce who took it upon himself to see the slave trade abolished, something that, as a Christian, wasn’t his job to do, Colson makes a very grave error when we read in page 281, how he tells his reader that the apostles Peter and John took bold steps to tackle the injustices of their day. May I tell the reader that this is not true. Christianity is not nor ever has been a socialist religion. The early church did not fight to chance political climates or systems in their day, to the contrary, they taught their congregations to submit to the powers over them (whether secular or religious) and live quiet and peaceful lives (not like Martin Luther King Jr.) Unfortunately men like Colson seem to see the apostles as anti-capitalists, while other more liberal people within the Church may go even further and try and describe the Lord Himself as some kind of modern day freedom fighter, even though we clearly find the following in Scripture: “He [Jesus] will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets” (Matt. 12:19).

Some people may think that I am being too hard on men such as Chuck Colson, for their liberal views are everywhere in liberal Christianity today. So, in my defence, may I say this: Let the liberals and all their many pressure group friends, i.e., Green Peace, CND, Socialist Workers Party, ANC and all the other spin off’s like these, fight and pressure governments to chance our fallen and dying world. While they are doing this, the Church should be evangelising and trying to reach as many lost souls as possible, while we are still here.

I do resent the fact when I see liberal Church of England vicars, Catholic priests, Evangelicals and even some Fundamentalist TV celebrities, like Pat Robertson, going on TV when a tragedy has just happened, or just when there is no news and TV crews are sent out onto the streets to fill in their news-times slots, and we then see the above members of clergy wheeled on and for several minutes, for the viewer who is probably secular and now thinks that Christianity is all about secular events like gun crime, yob behaviour, or if he’s Rowan William’s, anti-war, then for those valuable minutes when men of the cloth are paraded on television, the one thing none of them will ever say is Repent, but what they will tell the watching world is why they are the against this law or that law or why more people are dying of AIDS today, etc, etc, etc. What I say is this: let the world save the world, but for goodness sake, let the Church not join forces with liberal, God-haters and Christ-rejecters, but that the Church should stand alone, as we are called to do, 2 Cor. 6:14, and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is what the Church is supposed to do, not to get bogged down in popular and secular doctrines.

A trap set for him

Several times in this book, Chuck recalls incidents when women tried to trick him into allowing their picture to be taken with him, or when two women burst into his hotel room in the dead of night, with the hope of taking a compromising picture of him. On both occasions, his right-hand man, Harold Hughes, was there to protect Chuck and deal with such pathetic, yet potentially dangerous situations.

We also read about the occasion when a homosexual threw paint at him, and once again Hughes was on hand to catch and reprimand his assailant. Yet Colson didn’t want the police involved, so this homosexual/activist journalist was let off.

And finally, we read a chilling account of a man who had queued up patiently while Chuck was doing a book signing launch when this man’s turn came, he said: “I don’t know whether to kill you today or not.” To Chuck’s credit, he kept calm and was able to talk this man out of his desire to kill him. And again, Chuck refused to have the police called, once this man turned and left the store.

I suppose for those who live in the public life, such accounts as these are seen as the norm, but for those that don’t, they remain frightening to read about.


There can be no doubt that Colson’s evangelistic prison ministry has touched the life’s of thousands of men and women throughout the world. And whenever the Gospel is preached, this is always good news.  However, I am concerned when such influential and powerful men as Colson, refuse to see the dangers of ecumenicalism – and for the success of their ministries – become active ecumenicalists. I am also concerned to see such blatant liberalism in today’s neo-evangelicalism. Colson, one would hope, should know better and should be leading the way in reforming this gigantic movement in the US today. Sadly, though, there seems no sign of this yet, we must all pray for a new Reformation to begin, if time permits, for we know that until the time of Jesus’ returning, society will get worse, much worse (1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:1-7).




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