In honor of the recent homegoing of Chuck Colson, an abridged version of his address “The Corruption of Conscience” (given during the Wheaton College Graduate School commencement ceremonies on May 6, 2000) is featured below. Charles W. Colson is the author of over 15 books that have sold over 5 million copies, and his daily radio commentary, “Breakpoint,” reaches an audience of over 3 million people. Mr. Colson first achieved national notoriety as an aide to President Richard M. Nixon from 1969 to 1973, when he as known as the White House “hatchet man.” After converting to Christianity and serving seven months in prison on Watergate-related charges, he founded Prison Fellowship Ministries, now the largest prison outreach organization in the world.
More than ever before in American history, indeed in Western history, we are witnessing the near-death of conscience. By virtue of being created in His image and likeness, all men have a conscience that is sensitive to God’s Law. Paul writes:”For when the Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them” (Rom. 2:14-15, NASB). But for many years this God-given internal moral compass has been rapidly faltering. I regularly confront that brutal truth in prisons across the country. An incident in Indiana a few years ago brought it home to me dramatically. I had visited the prison several times before, but that day a young inmate responded to my proffered handshake by smacking my hand away–a first for me. In many years of visiting prisons, I had never before encountered such direct and immediate hostility from a complete stranger. For obvious reasons, prisoners are rarely cheerful, but I saw in those eyes that day a chilling hardness I had never encountered before. Since then, however, I have seen similar hardness reflected in the eyes of countless other inmates, particularly younger ones.
Click HERE for the full address.