LANSDOWNE, Va. – Too many Christians have truncated the Gospel and dumbed the faith down to just being a relationship with Jesus Christ, lamented evangelical author and commentator Chuck Colson.
"Christianity is not simply a private experience between Christ and me," he told The Christian Post. "I experience it privately and personally because that's how I come into the Kingdom. But then once I'm in the Kingdom, I have responsibilities."
"Christianity does not stop with salvation," he's often stressed.
And that's something the 78-year-old ministry leader is trying to impart to the younger generation.
For the past seven years, Colson has been equipping believers to develop a robust Christian worldview and to live out their faith.
His Centurions Program takes in 100 people every year for an intense yearlong program that features a mix of Bible studies, cultural studies and secular studies.
Martha Anderson, national director of the Centurions Program, said the goal of the program is not to simply teach worldview but to teach people to live as Christ did.
"Understanding your faith in Christ should lead to a different way of living," she commented. "Really, it's discipleship."
Anderson believes that while many people are raised in the Church, they never really understand the big picture of the Bible and what their role is in the world as a result of that.
"We're taught basic rules but not the whole picture of what it means to be made in the image of God," she commented. "We're taught that we're saved to go to heaven but not to live like Him."
The inspiration for the Centurions Programs dates back to some 20 years ago when Colson realized that the problem in society was one of worldview. Everyone has a worldview. It's "a way of making sense of the world and our lives in it," according to the Colson Center.
Colson had been evangelizing to inmates for years but found that prisons were being built faster than he could get to them. Though he remained committed to reaching out to prisoners, the former aide to President Richard Nixon felt he wasn't going to "do any good" if he didn't deal with the cause of the problem.
So he began tackling worldview with commentaries, books and later the Centurions Program. Colson, who converted to Christianity in the wake of the Watergate scandal, was inspired by research from Stanton Samenow and Samuel Yochelson and later James Q. Wilson and Richard Herrnstein – who found that crime is the result of individuals making wrong moral choices and that the answer to crime is a conversion of the wrongdoer to a more responsible lifestyle.
For Colson, Christianity was that "more responsible lifestyle."
Ultimately, Colson holds to a firm belief that societies can be changed from the bottom up or by mass movements and Christians need to be trained to defend against the "moral rot" than can destroy a culture from within.
Already, 600 people have graduated from the Centurions Program and most, if not all, are actively putting what they learned into practice.
Some have gone on to start local biblical worldview programs and others are influencing the marketplace and culture.
Sue Thielke, founder of Framework Productions, is championing the biblical worldview by reintroducing Christ to the world through music, drama and art.
She was trained in the Centurions Program in 2008 and is currently in the process of completing an advanced program called Centurions 2.
"Chuck Colson is an intriguing individual," she told The Christian Post. "He is very effectively raising up a school of modern day prophets like myself – modern day prophets that are developing ministries actively involved in returning America to its Judeo-Christian foundation. We are telling everyone that will listen that things are not the way they are supposed to be."