"History is philosophy teaching by example." (Lord Bolingbroke)

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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

When Should We Forgive?

I admire and respect Chuck Colson. Here’s a man that has gone from political “dirty tricks” during the Nixon administration to create a successful prison outreach program in the U.S. penal system.

Colson was known to be as dirty as they came. Known as a “hatchet man,” he was feared by even the most powerful politicos during his four years of service to President Nixon.

When news of Colson’s conversion to Christianity leaked to the press in 1973, the Boston Globe reported, “If Mr. Colson can repent of his sins, there just has to be hope for everybody.”

In 1974 he entered a plea of guilty to Watergate-related charges; although not implicated in the Watergate burglary, he voluntarily pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in the Daniel Ellsberg Case, serving seven months of a one-to-three year sentence.

In 1976 he founded Prison Fellowship Ministries which collaborates with “churches of all confessions and denominations, becoming the world’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, crime victims, and their families and has spent the last twenty-five years as head of the ministry.

Through his personal outreach through travel and commentaries, including “BreakPoint,” Colson has proven himself to be a savvy, yet compassionate judge of character and world events. When Colson speaks, many people listen.

As a Google search has demonstrated, he has written extensively about the tension between Islam and Christianity, about the effect of Islam on Europe, on Muslim conversions of non-Muslims in the general public and in prisons, and on many other topics that are not related to Muslims and Islam.

Colson believes that we need to be “informed and discerning about the Islamic worldview” which is utopian.

Seeing the struggle between the Western and the Islamic world in religious terms, Colson concludes in Drawing the Battle Lines, that:

For them, “the best hope for salvation is to eliminate non-Muslim influences and to advance Islam (by force if necessary, for which there are heavenly rewards, as the terrorists believed). The Muslim faces an uncertain outcome on Judgment Day based on his works. Christians are confident of a full pardon because of Christ's work.


While Islamists want to enforce a theocracy, most Christians live peacefully with competing value systems. Christians believe in winning people through love, not conquest. Although most Muslims are peace loving, the Qur'an does speak ofjihads.

Why is it important to understand these differences?

First, it is important in evangelizing Muslims, many of whom are disillusioned by the terrorist violence. Second, it is necessary to resist Muslims who are evange'lizing Americans. Muslims, who consider the Trinity blasphemy against Allah, are handing out tracts on college campuses charging that Christians worship three gods. Christians must defend Trinitarian doctrine as well as expose the flaws in Islam's worldview.

And this includes the prison system that is filled with alientated, disenfranchised, angry and dangerous men and women that are easy targets for the message of the Koranic texts that preach vengeance and retribution. Prisoners are taught to hate Christians and Jews and how to get even with the society that they feel has shown them little or no justice.

Once again he believes that evangelizing Muslims or the converts, and the marginalized in and out of prison is the answer. In Evangelizing for Evil in Our Prisons, reiterates how believes the application of Christianity can only help.

Whats the answer? In the short term, prison officials have ample legal authority to deny radical imams access to inmates. No civilized nation would allow the preachers of violence access to places packed with angry, alienated men. Inmates are easy targets. International terrorism analyst Peter Brown told the Washington Times that up to 2,000 American recruits "have shown up in the ranks of al Qaeda in the past decade."

But the long-term answer lies in what ministries like Prison Fellowship do: bringing the Gospel into the prisons and telling inmates about the love of Christ. Ive gone into 600 prisons around the world; when the gospel is preached, and men embrace Christ, they eschew violence. The prisons we run prove it. In Texas, Kansas, Iowa and now Minnesota, our prisons are filled with once-dangerous men who now love Jesus and live new lives.

America has always been a place where victims of oppression came "yearning to breathe free," as the Statue of Liberty reminds us. But if we do not stop them, radical Islamists will use prisons, packed with angry and resentful men, to put an evil twist on this message: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to get even.

Is Colson correct in his analysis? We know that showing respect and kindness towards usually gets a response in kind. But will this behavior work against Islamists that are determined to eliminate the influences of the West, proselytize or eliminate non-Muslims, and create a world Islamic empire?

One-on-one, face to face with many Muslims, respect and kindness will work. But this behavior is seen as weakness, the “paper tiger” syndrome, of which the United States was inflected for decades after Vietnam. While Americans have been trying to overcome this mental block, this syndrome of apathy, skepticism, and negativism against themselves, Muslims and their fifth column friends have been regularly injecting the body American with more of the same poison.

Islamists have taken for granted that the body American will remain sick and impotent, unable to resist the creeping gangrene of Islamism that is coursing through our veins. Colson may be right in one respect. We need prayer, we need a miracle to reverse this trend.

Should we forgive our enemies in this war as we did in the last as Colson has reminded us in Forgiving Our Enemies?

Perhaps, but in the last war our enemies were thoroughly subdued and knew it. We helped rebuild their bombed out cities and their societies, destroyed a monster in Adolph Hitler and the European form of fascism in Germany and Italy. Regrettably and unbelievably it is again returning to Europe in the form of Islamofacism that Europeans actually invited in with their Muslim guest workers and asylum seekers.

Our enemies were thoroughly subdued and allowed freedom to be brought to the masses. Islam declares that Jihad will continue until dhimmis, conquered non-Muslims are subdued and know it. I doubt very much that the Islamists will apply the same principles of freedom and justice that we applied to our conquered former enemies as freedom is anathema to Islamic thinking and justice is the punishment of Allah.

Colson is on the right track for the salvation of Christians, but his remedy won’t help us to defeat the Islamists. God forgive us as we forge ahead, not meekly as lambs, but roaring and ravaging lions bent on carnage and destruction. This is the only way.

The ravaging lions can be construed as a metaphor for the courageous among us that will dare to stand up to these Islamists in our own lands, using the weapons of the courts, the media, and the power of the pen. We cannot forgive while such passion runs high.


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