December 13, 2018 Editor

Justice That Restores, Charles W. Colson, Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2001. 172 pages

WN: Charles Colson’s book seems so out of place in the Age of Trump. Colson was of course a conservative Evangelical darling because he was “saved” post-Watergate and his solution to crime in America became simply personal conversion to Christ – as you will see below.

And his kind of Christianity in turn has made Trump into an Evangelical darling. Wherein the connection?: both darlings pander to reductionist simplicities in addressing societal ills. What’s wrong with America is solved (Trump) by making it (religious right wing) white again; (Colson) by making America Christian again[1]. If it was however even hinted at that America’s first step in embracing Christian conversion is divestment from worldwide hegemony and corporate malfeasance, Colson would have (he died in 2012), and the vast majority of American white Evangelicals today would, rise/risen up in uncomprehending shock and horror… Or they at least would needs slink away sorrowfully like the Rich Young Ruler. In Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s interaction with the story highlighted, we read:

The difference between ourselves and the rich young man is that he was not allowed to solace his regrets by saying: “Never mind what Jesus says, I can still hold on to my riches, but in a spirit of inner detachment. Despite my inadequacy I can take comfort in the thought that God has forgiven me my sins and can have fellowship with Christ in faith.” But no, he went away sorrowful. Because he would not obey, he could not believe. In this the young man was quite honest. He went away from Jesus and indeed this honesty had more promise than any apparent communion with Jesus based on disobedience (emphasis added).[11]

My website explores this kind of counter to dominant white Evangelical America sucked in by Trump, so contrary to Colson. It is dedicated to the Gospel as Counter-Narrative to Empire.

Sadly, Colson’s career as Nixon’s “Hatchet Man” was far more successful (until it came crashing to an end!) than his skill as theologian or cultural commentator.

[1] One can only say that this, along with American Exceptionalism and many similar, is a perverse American Founding Myth of gargantuan destructive proportions.

Please click on: Justice That Restores

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Subjects: age of Trump, book review, Charles Colson, Justice That Restores, religious right, Transformative Justice


Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.