Scarcely a day goes by when I don’t remember and miss and feel the inspiring spirit of my late, beloved friend Chuck Colson. I am so sorry I can’t be with all of you this evening to remember Chuck and celebrate his life and all the good that he did for all of us.
Chuck was a very, very dear friend and a great hero, a great Christian hero. He was a disciple of Jesus who was so close to him. His relationship with our Lord was so deeply personal that I can’t help but think of Chuck as an apostle.
I think of him, in fact, as the apostle of faith and reason because Chuck was a Christian who understood that faith and reason go together in living a Christian life. And faith and reason are especially necessary today as we struggle in the face of the many problems that we are encountering in our society — problems that Chuck foresaw (he was so prescient) and which he called upon us to take leadership roles in addressing.
Think of the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions, a value, a foundational principle that has been so severely under assault for the past 45 or even 50 years. Or marriage and the family, another foundational, fundamental principle that Chuck was so dedicated to, another principle again very deeply under attack.
Or religious freedom and the rights of conscience. Chuck was very early in seeing the attacks that would come against religious freedom, and so he brought us together to form the Manhattan Declaration. It was Chuck’s declaration that drew us as a family to pledge ourselves that we would honor God’s law, even above the law of men. That we would, of course, render unto Caesar ungrudgingly what is Caesar’s, but never render unto Caesar what is God’s.
And so we are inspired by Chuck’s memory and by the great example he set for us. That inspiration will carry us through.
Chuck knew that we need to be always prepared to give a reason for the hope that was within us, as Scripture says. He called upon us, as Scripture calls upon us, to renew our minds. He knew that we had to be intellectually prepared to address the great issues of our day.
And so, led by his example, let’s do just that. Chuck liked to recall the image that was the opening lines of the great encyclical, fides et ratio [faith and reason] of Pope John Paul II. He was the pope whom Chuck and I both greatly admired. We called him “John Paul the Great.”
The pope’s image is this: “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit ascends to contemplation of truth.” How much Chuck liked to quote that image, and I do too.
Let’s bear it in mind as we remember Chuck this evening, as we celebrate his life. Let’s commit ourselves to bring faith and reason to bear in our lives as Christians, as we share the Gospel with others, in our lives as citizens, and as we stand up strong, proud, persevering, unbending for the great principles of the sanctity of human life, marriage and family, and religious liberty and the rights of conscience.
God bless you all.
• Princeton law scholar Robert P. George gave this message by video to the April 8-10 Wilberforce Weekend conference, where iconic Christian leader Chuck Colson was posthumously honored with the 2016 Wilberforce Award.
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