I Love Tony Campolo, I hate Tony Campolo

The Colbert Report is not something to be taken seriously. Guests who do take it seriously come off looking like idiots. Tony Campolo is no idiot. He fared pretty well with Colbert.


I am not a fan of Tony Campolo. I’ve been pretty clear about that. But something I’ve been saying quite a bit in my current Sunday school class is that we can learn from those who err. And in this "interview" Campolo says somethings we can and should learn from. Evangelicalism is not a monolithic movement. There are more Moderates and Democrats who are (or consider themselves to be) Evangelicals than the mainstream media lets on or is able to comprehend. Campolo should blow some minds in the media with what he’s said.

However #2, there were somethings that Campolo said that are blowing my mind. First, he warned Colbert to worry about what comes after the judgement. That seems inconsistant with his view of hell and salvation after death! And the way Campolo sets the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures) over against the New Testament is not helpful either. Colbert pointed out that the Old Testament says to stone homosexuals. How does Tony answer that? "Jesus ups the ante. This is what is said in the Hebrew Bible but I say to you…" It sounds like Jesus didn’t agree with the Old Testament. But that can’t be, the Old Testament pointed to him, including the Law (Luke 24:27)!

Finally, I don’t know if I’ve commented on this before but I am very troubled by Campolo’s "Red Letter Christian" thing. It sounds like the only thing in the Bible that counts is what Jesus said. Like Paul and Luke and Peter and the other writers were not inspired or something.

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  • Looks like I am the only one to post here, even after a year. I found this post by searching “hate Tony Campolo.” I personally really like Tony Campolo. I also really enjoyed the book Red Letter Christians, which is why I am responding to this post. Campolo points out quite clearly that Jesus’ words aren’t the only truth in the Bible. He doesn’t say to throw out verses not spoken by Jesus. What I take from what he says is, whatever you read in the Bible, make sure you take it in context with Jesus’ ministry. Jesus’ ministry is what started Christianity. Christianity is not Judaism. It is also not perverted Christianity like we find everywhere today. We can not let the Good News take a back seat to zealous interpretations of scriptures. An example of how I take this is, there is an incredible number of verses in the Bible talking about taking care of the poor and those that experience social injustices. Comparatively speaking, there are very few verses in the Bible that address homosexuality. For some reason, Christians in America feel that it’s more important to attack homosexuality than social injustices and poverty. This doesn’t fit the Gospel at all, especially since Christians do a great job of making enemies of the homosexual community (which isn’t Christ like at all). At the end of the day, wouldn’t it be better to say we accomplished loving people rather than we accomplished fighting people? This is just my 2 cents, but then again, I am just some idealistic college student who doesn’t know anything.

  • Oh, I don’t know Andrew, you don’t sound like you know nothing. :)

    It is noteworthy that you mention care for the poor (an area the American church has been lamentably lacking in) in contrast to homosexuality. The reason the church has been so vocal on that issue is not because we have an axe to grind but because the issue has been forced to the forefront. Thirty years ago homosexualty was not a regular feature of primetime television. We have to deal with it, it was thrust upon us. Are we to remain silent until we get the rest of our house in order? Homosexuality is a sin and it is being turned into a civil rights issue.

    Having said that, you are absolutely right about our neglect of the very ones Jesus told us to care for. We need to repent and take action in behalf of the poor and hungry.

    Andrew, I hope you do surf back and read this. Thank you for commenting.

  • Very interesting responses. I often wonder why the Evangelicals make two issues a Christian Holy War. Homosexuality and abortion. I believe that Christ would have us reaching out to those women who feel that their only choice is abortion. I believe that Christ would love homosexuals, eat with them and be their friend.
    How is it that the Christian church has a 50% divorce rate (higher than secular rate, check out the Barna poles) and they insist that homosexuality is destroying the family. I love Tony Campolo because he thinks outside of the box like Jesus. I’m sure he is not right about everything because no one can be, but he operates on love, not legalism, ritual, tradition, or theology. Most (not all) church goers I know are so cut and dry that they condemn all Catholics, democrats, and anyone who doesn’t attend regular (boring) Sunday service. Remember Jesus said his spirit will lead us into all truth. Blessings.

  • Hey Mary! Welcome and thanks for your comments. I largely agree, we’ve been pretty remiss in how we react to “the least of these.” Like Derek Webb sings:

    ‘Cuz this world has nothing for me and this world has everything
    All that I could wanted and nothing that I need

    But the least of these look like criminals to me
    So I leave Christ on the street

    Christianity, especially in suburbia, has been fairly negligent in caring for the weak and poor.

    At the same time, it isn’t like all we’ve done is yell at women walking in to abortion clinics and throwing homosexuals out on their ears. If you look at the evangelical support of crisis pregnancy centers that advocate for options other than abortion, you’ll see that we’re involved in constructive measures. The stereotype of the screening meanie at the abortion clinic sells newspapers and is handy for promoting pro-choice causes, but it isn’t the reality.

    And when it comes to homosexuality, I think this is being misrepresented too. Look at Ted Haggard. He got caught out in a very public way in homosexual sin. But his church didn’t reject him, they removed him from leadership and provided counseling and care for him. Yes, there are fringe groups who are vocally anti-homosexual, but I think evangelicalism as a whole shouldn’t be represented by a marginal, vocal fringe group. Because we believe homosexual acts to be sinful, we get painted as hating homosexuals and throwing them out of the church. I haven’t seen that but I have seen homosexuals believe that they are being rejected as a person because a church will not accept their practice as pleasing to God. There are those who see the lines clearly and correctly and need our love and support.

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