In 1985, the year Charles Colson became a Christianity Today columnist, Gordon College professor Thomas Howard joined the Roman Catholic Church. CT devoted about seven pages to a special report on the conversion of this scion of an elite evangelical family. In 2012, it is hard to imagine the anguish that lay behind CT's handwringing.
At CT, we are under no illusion that the doctrines of salvation and the church taught by the medieval Western church are good for the soul. We believe that the Protestant Reformers accomplished a great work for God in renewing those doctrines through close attention to the teaching of the apostles and the church fathers. However, you can credit Colson, who died on April 21, for a major part of evangelicals' reduced anxiety about relations with Roman Catholics.
Colson became a Christian—an evangelical Christian—as an adult. He did not acquire skepticism of all things Catholic with his mother's milk. Instead, when he learned his theology from key evangelical theologians, he paid particular attention to the words and deeds of the great Dutch theologian and politician Abraham Kuyper (died 1920). Kuyper carefully articulated the doctrinal and philosophical differences between Rome and his beloved Geneva. Yet he admired Romanism's vigor in countries where it became disestablished. Kuyper believed that in the fight against modernism, Protestant Christianity could be effective only if it partnered with Roman Catholics.
Colson, like Kuyper, was concerned about the effects of modernism and later postmodernism on contemporary culture. And like Kuyper, he believed that unless believers are equipped with the critical tools of worldview thinking, they are unlikely to make any headway in redeeming ...