Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kazim's compiled responses to Chuck Colson

To Chuck Colson:

It has taken me a while, but I've replied to the major points in the three letters you sent to me regarding my review of The Faith.  Please visit the following links to see this three part reply.

"To return to the original theme that I touched upon when I discussed your book, the main difference between your position and mine appears to be that you have chosen to take a position of unwavering certainty, and then you describe that as knowledge.  But it’s a highly subjective kind of knowledge, for your central point is that knowledge begins with something that (you acknowledge) you have arbitrarily decided to believe without reason."

"It’s not the soundness of your methodology that I’ve questioned here; it's the results.  The study looked fine to me, and I certainly can't go back and try to reproduce the results myself.   But I don't need to.  The study you referenced already demonstrates that the program was counter-productive.  In fact, if you look at page 18, it's stated explicitly: 'Simply stated, participation in the program is not related to recidivism reduction.'"

"While I would agree that you could not fault Christianity for a misapplication of the teachings in the Bible, we are not talking here about people who read clear injunctions against slavery and rebelled against them.  We are talking precisely about what it says in the Bible that clearly supports slavery.  For better or worse, Stringfellow seems to me to have been a sincere Christian who genuinely believed that he was acting in accordance with the clear commands of the Bible.  The Bible said to hold slaves, and he preached that Christians should hold slaves."

Although I waited longer than I intended to get back to you, I want to say that I did appreciate your response, and continue to enjoy the opportunity to explore our differences.  I'll make no promises that my next response will be speedier than this one, so feel free to take as much time as you need if you would like to get back to me.

Russell Glasser


  1. Postscript:

    I considered writing a fourth message to wrap up some odds and ends in Chuck Colson's email. There are still several things that I did not address, including Mr. Colson's understanding of the biological sciences, and some brief throwaway comments he made about things like love (I did a whole show on this once) and Islam's purported relation to post-modernism.

    In the end, though, I decided that these are small points that don't add up to enough material for an entire post, and if I tried then the resulting post would be too disjointed to be worth reading. Hence, I'm ending this round with Mr. Colson. If nobody has any major corrections or additions to recommend in comments, I will be submitting this series to Zondervan as-is in about 24 hours.

  2. I don't know if you're accepting comments, but I'd like to commend you.

    This is exactly the kind of thorough response in e-mail debate I specifically look for, but rarely find.

    Well writ.

  3. Yes, very well done. Thank you for taking the time.

    Now if we can only get someone to explain it to him.

  4. Unfortunately it completely slipped my mind to send a message last week and through the weekend, but I have just corrected that oversight. I emailed a message to Keith at Zondervan moments ago. I'll keep you posted if I hear anything back.

  5. Hi Kazim,
    just happened upon this and wanted to leave you a note. I am not familiar enough with the recidivism stats to comment (am only now looking into them which is how i found this!), but I wanted to comment on the overall exchange between you and Colson. His was a respected name in my house growing up, spoke at my college graduation, and continues to be someone I admire and respect. While I have yet to acquaint myself with you/your website, and look forward to doing so, I wanted to say I appreciate the civil nature of your dialogue, which seems so rare. As a Christ-follower, I would imagine we disagree on many things. But I am always trying to understand what makes people tick, especially those different from me and who take different positions than me.
    You've probably already seen it, but another example of this is called "Collision", a DVD collage of dialogues between Chris Hitchens and someone I had never heard of before Douglass Wilson. It is phenomenal. I can only hope to one day experience the brilliance of these two men! It was quite thought provoking and I recommend it to you. Feel free to contact me via email, I would love to hear from you.


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