Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Christian Gangster?

This is the title of a fascinating chapter in the book Loving God by Charles Colson. It recounts the flirtations with Christianity of Mickey Cohen a notorious gangster in Los Angeles in the 1950s. He heard Billy Graham speak both in L.A. and in Madison Square Garden (New York). At one time he prayed a penitent prayer. However, his life did not change. When confronted he said, "Christian football players, Christian cowboys, Christian politicians; why not a Christian gangster?"

The next chapter of the book is "Whatever became of sin?" which emphasizes how repentance is at the heart of the Gospel, regardless of whether we are a gangster or a sunday school teacher. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." 

A significant contrast to Cohen is the story of Jim Vaus. He did occasionally work for Cohen, and went to a Billy Graham crusade but did repent, become a Christian, and live a different life. This was recorded in a movie The Wiretapper and a biography My Father was a Gangster.

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