Awolf in sheep’s clothing. A New-Ager disguised as an evangelical Christian. Sold his soul to the devil. Those are just some of the insinuations made about me by a Christian leader last summer in his ministry newsletter. A few Christian radio programs picked up the refrain.

Understandably alarmed, concerned Christians deluged me with letters. I haven’t received so much angry mail since Watergate.

What occasioned all the furor was my acceptance of the Templeton Prize—a prize awarded in the past not only to Christians but also Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims. In addition, last month I delivered the 1993 Templeton Address at a meeting scheduled to coincide with the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Though my speech was not part of that program, delegates from every religious body in the world were invited to attend.

All this raised a red flag for some evangelicals. They wondered: Is it right for Chuck Colson to let his name be associated with these programs? Is he endorsing an extreme ecumenism?

I’m no stranger to controversy. But what worried me was the concern expressed in these letters that a Christian might be tainted by speaking before a religiously mixed audience, that appearing in a pagan forum constitutes endorsement.

This seems to be a reaction to the rapid “paganizing” of America. Only a few decades ago, the Supreme Court could still say, “We are a Christian people.” And as recently as the 1970s, Newsweek announced the Year of the Evangelical; being “born again” was fashionable.

But today, over 50 percent of Americans say fundamentalism makes them nervous. By more than two to one, they do not believe the Bible is authoritative—a precise reversal from 30 years ago. Most cultural strongholds in politics, academics, and ...

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