By / Jan 16

Thomas Jefferson wanted what he considered to be his three greatest achievements to be listed on his tombstone. The inscription, as he stipulated, reads “Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia.”

Today we celebrate the 230th anniversary of one of those great creations: the passage, in 1786, of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. Each year, the President declares January 16th to be Religious Freedom Day, and calls upon Americans to “observe this day through appropriate events and activities in homes, schools, and places of worship.” One way to honor the day is to reflect on these ten quotes about religious liberty that were expressed by some of our country's greatest leaders: Read More

By / Aug 26

Today is Women’s Equality Day, commemorating the passage of the 19th amendment of the United States Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. The ongoing observance of this day is an opportunity to draw attention to the plight of women not just in our own country, but around the world. For me, it is a moment to pause and think about the world I want my daughter to know.

When we watch “Mary Poppins,” and she sees British suffragists singing about “Votes for Women,” she finds it inconceivable that women in the United States were granted the right to vote only 95 years ago. Indeed, many things have changed in favor of women in the past century.

And yet there is much to be done before we can say women are truly given equal rights and status in our country.

I long for my daughter to see a world when women are appreciated not just for their appearance or their contributions to the world, but for their very existence. When she scrolls through iTunes to purchase music, I want her to see strong women singing powerful music, popular not because they sing about sex or pose suggestively for publicity photos, but because their music resonates with the world we want to live in. I hope she sees strong roles for women as the new normal in Hollywood — roles that portray who women really are, rather than mere caricatures. And I hope she sees a world where the value of each woman is recognized, regardless of age or ability.

Sadly, this is not the world in which she lives today.

Today a little girl in the womb could be loved and wanted desperately, or she could be extracted and dismembered in order to obtain whatever part of her body is considered valuable. A pregnant teen might be welcomed and cared for with loving arms, or she could be dropped at the door of a clinic and retrieved after she has taken care of an unwanted inconvenience. A woman could be loved as a fellow image-bearer, or she could be abused at the hands of a should-be protector.

The recent release of videos exposing the sickening practices of several Planned Parenthood leaders and clinic staff members shines a light on the horrific plight of women in distress and the babies they carry.

During a wanted pregnancy, an expectant mom might sign up to receive emails updating her on the size of her baby each week (This week it’s a peanut! Oh, now it’s the size of an avocado!). And yet those same developing body parts, each lovingly designed by the Creator, under other circumstances may be sold with no regard to the person from whom they were taken. As women across the country wonder if their own babies were sold to labs without their knowledge, a Christian love for women compels us to point them to our Savior.

Jesus was the ultimate nonconformist in His treatment of women, and particularly of women in distress.

In John 4, we see Him reveal His true identity to the woman at the well, a woman who was an outcast for her sexual exploits and whose Samaritan race would have been repulsive to any other Jewish man. Yet Jesus lovingly exposes her true problem, which is not her sexual sin, nor her disagreements about Jewish and Samaritan worship practices. He tells her what she really needs is something only He can provide — Living Water. He sees her, values her and meets her deepest need.

Again in John 8:1-11, we find Jesus subversively recognizing the value of a woman in distress — a woman caught in the very act of adultery. Her accusers conveniently neglect to bring her partner in crime to judgment, blaming only her for this sin and readying their stones to exact their justice against her. And yet, Jesus sees her not just as a woman who has sinned, but as a woman who is desperate for love and is looking for it in all the wrong places. He does not condemn her, but offers her a better way — a life of hope and purpose.

It is Jesus who taught us how to view all women, especially those in distress. This includes tiny women in the womb and the mothers who carry them.

If we desire to see true equality, we will champion the cause of the unborn and the unwed — of those we cannot see, and those who feel invisible.

We may not hold the stones, ready to punish others for their mistakes, but if we stand by and watch, we are complicit in the act. May we extend the love of Christ to all women, and may my daughter’s daughter grow up and find abortion just as foreign as a world in which women did not vote.

By / Jul 24

American culture is quickly evolving. Christian witness is now met with increasing resistance. The social compact that held together a fragile civil religion has been broken. In this new paradigm, many young Christians are looking for models of faithful cultural engagement.

To meet this need, Owen Strachan, author, professor, and scholar, offers an unlikely candidate: the late Chuck Colson.

For one generation of Americans, Chuck Colson was remembered only as Richard Nixon’s “hatchet man,” willing to “walk over my own grandmother” to ensure his boss’s reelection. For another generation, those familiar with his powerful conversion and decades of post-prison ministry, Colson was a leader in a renewal of Christian worldview. However, most millennial Christians are are likely unfamiliar with Colson’s life story or his work in the public square. It is Strachan’s desire, then, to introduce this titanic figure to a new generation of evangelicals. In his book The Colson Way, Strachan presents the life and work of Chuck Colson as an enduring model for those wishing to apply the gospel of the Kingdom to moral and ethical issues.  

In the marketplace of ideas, Christians have often resigned themselves to playing defense and have been reluctant or unable to articulate a positive vision of humanity. Recognizing the public square as the place where spiritual, political and cultural questions are debated, Chuck Colson’s approach was to play offense, engaging the most difficult arguments with persuasion and winsomeness.

Although not a comprehensive biography, Strachan nonetheless offers an abbreviated chronology of Colson’s life, highlighting foundational experiences, such as service in the Marine Corps and an Ivy League education at Brown University. Both military service and academic preparation would serve Colson well throughout his career, specifically as he engaged worldview conversations. Pre-conversion, pre-Watergate experiences are often overlooked in Colson studies but are vital for understanding his later work.

Strachan’s book serves a twofold purpose; it is both descriptive and prescriptive. It is descriptive, detailing the major moments, relationships and accomplishments in Chuck Colson’s life. It is prescriptive in offering a compelling vision for contemporary evangelical cultural engagement. To fully live out the gospel, followers of Christ can’t afford to adopt a pietistic approach, privatizing their faith to Sunday mornings. The people of God must advocate for human dignity, family stability, and religious liberty.

Strachan sums up Colson succinctly: “We must not privatize our convictions. We need to out our faith in the rough and tumble of a fallen world. Let us make this as plain as we can: more evangelicals, many more, need to get plugged into the momentous public square issues of the day” (139).

Chuck Colson possessed a model of public theology that outlived him. And Owen Strachan presents the best of the Watergate hatchet-man turned evangelical intellectual in an accessible format for a new generation. He details Colson’s friendships with leading theologians and pastors, and shows how these great thinkers influenced Colson and helped prompt his intellectual engagement.

Owen Strachan’s newest book is the first treatment of Chuck Colson’s life and legacy since Colson’s passing in 2012. It sets the record straight on Colson’s Watergate involvement and documents the Prison Fellowship ministry that now exerts worldwide impact. Perhaps most important for Christians, it also sheds light on how deeply transformed Chuck Colson was by the Gospel. Strachan explains: “Chuck Colson was not ruined by Watergate. He was ruined by the gospel of Jesus Christ, which hunted him like a hound of heaven and claimed him when he was at his most vulnerable” (34).

The Colson Way articulates a prophetic message through the lens of a modern day prophet. Colson’s contra mundum pro mundum (against the world, for the world) template for cultural engagement is instructive for believers looking to influence their culture. This is especially true for a generation of Christians fed a steady diet of antagonism toward a previous generation’s cultural witness.

The best biographical books examine historical figures, explain their significance, and inspire others to emulate them. Owen Strachan’s The Colson Way accomplishes these aims at a crucial time for evangelical cultural engagement. Christians will be inspired live out the gospel with kindness and conviction in the tradition of William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King Jr., and most recently, Charles Wendell Colson.