I just read an Open Letter to Tony Campolo by Drew Dyck of New Man Magazine. In it, he questions a couple of positions that Campolo seems to hold – 1) Muslims obtaining salvation apart from belief in Christ and 2) homosexuals shouldn’t have to change who they are to be saved.
These are two topics I have discussed in previous posts [Understanding the Emerging Church and Time for a discussion in the church about Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Issues or God’s Grace – 101]. These attitudes are rampant in post-modern thought. We are living in a world where compromise is the norm and taking a stand for truth is abnormal.
I have been reading Lee Strobel’s new book, The Case for the Real Jesus. Although I am still in the first few chapters of the book, one point has been sticking in my mind as I read it. Over the years, in an effort to make Christianity more appealing to non-believers, the church has watered down it’s theology. As a church, we have stopped placing an importance on the redemptive act of Jesus’ death on the cross. In an interview with Daniel B. Wallace Ph.D., Strobel was trying to understand the authenticity of the scriptures in light of recent allegations that the Bible is full of mistakes and contradictions and missing some books that teach something else. Dr. Wallace, in addressing a particular allegation said, “It’s disturbing that when it comes to the Christian faith, people don’t really want – or know how – to investigate the evidence. Christians are not being led into proper historical research by their pastors. I have been saying for some time that I don’t think the evangelical church has fifty years left of life to it until it repents.” Strobel responded, “In what way?” Wallace continued, “First, we have to quit marginalizing scripture. We can’t treat the Bible with kid gloves. We really need to wrestle with the issues, because our faith depends on it. And second, we need to quit turning Jesus into our buddy. He’s the sovereign Lord of the universe, and we need to understand and respond accordingly.”
Isn’t that the crux of the whole situation we find ourselves in right now? As a church, we don’t teach theology so when some new theory comes along, we don’t have the knowledge or tools to defend our faith. Some things might even sound good so we compromise our beliefs because we don’t have a theological foundation to stand on. Then someone else comes along with some new special knowledge and we go along with that because we are already started down the road of compromise. We have faith – but we don’t have maturity. It is my opinion that today’s church has become what Paul described when he addressed the church in Corinth.
The Corinthian believers had become aware of the need to reorient their pre-Christian attitudes and actions along Biblical lines, but at first their transformation was incomplete, and they were just “babes in Christ,” to be pitied and nurtured in their immaturity. The Greek word sarkinos implies this infant stage.
However, as the years went on, they continued in their immaturity. By this time they should have grown to Christian adulthood, themselves helping others through the infant stage, but instead they had willfully and sinfully remained in their immature state. For this Paul rebukes them.
It is imperative that we continue to grow in Christ. Everyone needs to learn to emphatically defend their faith. We need to continue to help others through the infant stage into Christian maturity so when beliefs, such as espoused by Mr. Campolo are raised in the church, they can be debated with an argument based in knowledge and not feelings.
A good place to start would be our 21st Century Christian series or any other series we have posted at Grace Learning Center. Another resource that I enjoy is the online theology course at Reclaiming The Mind.
I’ll respond to Tony Campolo’s letter.
It is a disgrace. Regarding his comment about President Bush and Iraq. Whether there was weapons of mass destruction or not. (Do you really think the govenment tells us everything?) the men and women of our armed services fighting over there did a GREAT service to the people of Iraq. They freed a country from evil and are helping to make them a democratic society. I have a nephew who did two tours of duty over in Iraq before getting WOUNDED and he said he would do it all over again just to be able to help those people become as FREE as us. I personally would rather have them fight on foreign soil then over here on American soil. Instead of bashing Bush we should be standing with our service men and women who are risking there lives so we can have our FREEDOM and thanking them.
Regarding Gay and Lesbian. Jesus is the only way to heaven. Go back to the simple way children learn. A – admit that you are a sinner; B- believe that Jesus is God’s Son; C – confess your sins. Having sex with the same sex is SIN. If it wasn’t the Bible wouldn’t be so adament about loving one wife etc…………
Gay’s and Lesbians can come to church but they need to repent and TURN from their sins………………………
ABORTION – is a sin… You are killing innocent babies. If we were to educate people and have them realize they are killing BABIES maybe they wouldn’t use it as a form of birth control. If you decide to have a baby you should be prepared for the expense of the child. It shouldn’t be an ooops, I can’t afford it, let me get rid of it. We make it to easy for people to think it is okay to kill innocent babies because it isn’t political correct to call them babies.
I think Mr. Campolo needs to re-read his Bible and pray to God for answers instead of using part of the Bible to make his OPINIONS seem right.
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Dear Concerned Christian,
I think reading Dr. Campolo’s response to the open letter is warranted. I don’t think Dr. Campolo ever said that abortion is not a sin. In fact, I don’t think abortion was ever in the conversation. The two issues that the New Man letter addressed were whether Muslims could obtain salvation apart from Christ and whether or not Gay/Lesbian’s could be saved or converted.
I have heard Dr. Campolo speak on these two subjects previously and his rebuttal letter is in line with what I have heard him consistently say. His explanation of his position on Muslims, while a little confusing to me, is consistent. My confusion stems with his example, while believing in Jesus, not identifying himself as a Christian. To me, by definition, if you believe in Christ, you are a Christian. I would assume that he was identifying as a Muslim like I identify myself as a Dane.
As for his position on homosexuality, in my personal opinion, anyone who elevates the sin of same sex attraction any higher than any other sin is misguided in what sin is and what Jesus’ death on the cross provided. As Jesus is quoted as saying, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.” Any sin being particularly worse than another is purely subjective and I would say that in light of the wide-spread nature of pornography, sexual sin of any type is rampant – even among those who have accepted Jesus gift of salvation.
If I may ask you a personal question. What sin do you struggle with every day? Did you stop sinning once you became a Christian or do you continue to struggle with issues you had prior to your conversion? I would assume that just like I may deal with a particular sinful behavior, people who are inclined to same-sex attraction would also have to deal with having that attraction. Accepting Jesus as your personal savior doesn’t always produce an instantaneous 180 degree correction of behavior!
One other position he is consistent about. We should leave final judgment with Jesus and spend our time here on earth showing Jesus to others by loving them.
About 2 years ago I was in email correspondence with Tony Campola regarding his acceptance of homosexuality tendencies but not the act itself .I then asked him would it be ok for 2 gay people to sleep in the same bed with their arms about each other,would it be ok for them to kiss and cuddle and hold hands in public.. from this last email to him I received no reply.God has changed gay and lesbian people who have accepted Jesus and have been transformed by the power of the Spirit.One such person is James Hartline who has full blown aids and preaches against the homosexual lifestyle.He has been threatened and on one occasion nearly run down by a car.His witness is uplifting and God is with him each day.if God can change someone like James from homosexuality then all who call on His name can be changed.What is happening today is instead of the church being a light to the world the darkness of the world is coming into the church and is putting out that light.Tony Campola’s church is on sinking sand when it should be resting on the Rock which is Christ.