• How to be (the Author of) Born Again: Charles Colson and the Writing of Conversion in the Age of Evangelicalism

    Kendrick Oliver (see profile)
    United States, Religions, History, Evangelicalism--Study and teaching, Religion
    Item Type:
    Charles Colson, Conversion, Prison Fellowship, American religious history, Evangelical studies, History of religions
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    Charles Colson’s Born Again was the most celebrated spiritual memoir of the 1970s evangelical revival, and remains the best-known book-length conversion narrative of the twentieth century. Its account of how Colson—notoriously ruthless as a political aide to President Nixon—abruptly invited Christ into his life in the late summer of 1973 following a long searching discussion with a Christian friend and of how he came to submit himself completely to God’s will, inspired evangelicals to hope that the broader national crisis of morals exemplified by Watergate might be purged by the fires of revival. Colson went on, as founder of the world’s largest prison ministry and as a leading evangelical thinker and writer, to place a highly-structured model of conversion at the centre of his ambitions for evangelical mission in the world. However, as revealed by his private papers, Colson’s own conversion experience was more complex and ambiguous than either his published memoir or later works of advocacy suggest. His editor, Leonard LeSourd, played a significant role in shaping Born Again to match the conceptual norms of popular evangelicalism and contribute the force of a recent, conspicuous and apparently secure example of individual spiritual rebirth to the wider evangelical project of religious revival.
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    6 years ago


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