Question: I am reading Chuck Colson’s latest book, The Body, and am greatly disappointed in Chuck for including the Roman Catholic Church as a part of the body of Christ that we are to embrace in his call for unity. . . . I appreciate Chuck Colson, but I’m a bit confused about his term “evangelical Catholics.” What also greatly disappoints me are the endorsements by a host of religious leaders on the jacket. Would you comment on this book in The Berean Call?
Response: I respect Chuck as a Christian who loves the Lord and has sacrificed a great deal to bring the gospel into prisons. Therefore it grieves me to say that his book is a sad mixture of warnings against error and at the same time embracing that which is false and even covering up or ignoring that which, if admitted, would undermine his thesis of unity with Rome. He finds fault (often correctly) with various segments of the evangelical church, but not with the Catholic Church. And the praise he gives Rome is often so blind as to be embarrassing, such as his statement that “the Catholic Church, to its great credit, does call heretics to account” (p 132). Indeed she does, having burned more than a million at the stake! And to this day both Trent and Vatican II condemn evangelicals as heretics for holding beliefs to which Colson subscribes. Surely he must know this!
As an example of Rome’s censure of heretics, Chuck commends Pope Urban VIII for declaring “that anyone in the New World who kept Indian slaves would be excommunicated” (p 133). But he fails to mention that this same pope condemned polygamists to the most horrible slavery of all—the galleys for life! Nor does he tell us that it was Urban VIII who threatened an elderly and very ill Galileo with torture for saying that the earth revolved around the sun, and had him on his knees in front of the inquisition recanting of this “heresy” in fear of his life! Calling heretics to account, indeed!
It is not “politically correct” these days to say anything the least bit derogatory about homosexuals. Nor is it, among Christians, good church politics (if one wants to be supported by evangelical leaders) to admit any validity to the Reformation or to cast any doubt upon the alleged evangelical soundness of Roman Catholicism. Colson goes right along with this farce.
Rightly warning that we do not “accept everyone who says he or she is a Christian” (p 105), Colson explains that those “who deny the fundamentals, such as the bodily resurrection of Christ, cannot be part of the confessing body.” True, but he fails to recognize that one can believe in the bodily resurrection, as do Mormons, and still hold so much other error as to be eternally lost. Such is the case with Catholics. Catholicism does affirm much orthodox doctrine, but adds to it so much that is false that it becomes a complete denial of the gospel of God’s grace. The Roman Catholic gospel and the biblical gospel are diametrically opposed.
Colson seems blind to the obvious. While he admits serious differences between the Protestant and Catholic view of the sacraments, he waves them aside as unimportant because “all would agree that the sacraments are centered on Christ who took on flesh and died and was raised.” Yes, but there is more. For the Catholic, through baptism (the first of seven sacraments), even as an infant with no knowledge of Christ, one is born again, made a child of God, forgiven of sin and placed in the Church. And in the Mass the literal body and blood of Christ is again offered as a propitiatory sacrifice. Vatican II declares, “It is the liturgy through which, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, ‘the work of our redemption is accomplished. . .’” (p 1). Thus is denied the gospel truth that by His sacrifice on the cross Christ “obtained [a finished work] eternal redemption for us” (Heb:9:12) and that “we have [present possession] redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Eph:1:7; Col:1:14).
I have corresponded with Chuck on this subject and have given him photocopies of enough out of Trent and Vatican II to thoroughly establish that Roman Catholicism is a false gospel. Therefore, I am at a loss to explain this new book.