Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Further proof that Tony Campolo has lost his way...

I am not one of those watch-bloggers. You know the type, lying in wait for someone to slip up so they can pounce. But from time to time something comes along and bugs me enough to speak out about it. This is one of those times.

I have commented before that I don't like some of Tony Campolo's theology. He has a new book out called Letters to a Young Evangelical (Art of Mentoring) that furthers my belief that he has lost his way and is trekking down the wrong path. I thumbed through this a few weeks ago in a local bookstore and was disappointed by it. I saw today that Justin Taylor of Between Two Worlds picked up on this as well. Justin points out that Christianity Today's reviewer took Campolo to task for some of what he says. As did Jordan Hylden at the First Things Journal.

Jordan says in his review:

You (Campolo) start off by accusing conservative Christians of uncritically baptizing the Republican agenda, and you claim to offer a biblical outlook that "transcends party politics." But then you turn around and support nearly every plank in the Democratic party’s platform. I tried to keep track: You make an argument (liberally peppered with Bible verses) for the Democratic position on abortion, gay marriage, tax cuts, trade policy, Iraq, nuclear disarmament, school vouchers, racial profiling, the closing of Guantanamo Bay, capital punishment, and global warming.

I have no problem with politically liberal Christians, but why do you claim to be beyond party politics when you so clearly aren’t? Do you really expect us to believe that Jesus just happens to have the same politics as Nancy Pelosi? But maybe I could give you a pass on that. Like I said, I learned a lot from my liberal Christian friends at school, and I’m glad to be challenged in my beliefs. Or, I should say, I would have been if you had taken more trouble to actually challenge them.

Among Christianity Today's concerns:

It's when Campolo distances himself from the widely derided Religious Right that Letters to a Young Evangelical grows combative and simply inaccurate. To correct some of his mistakes:

  • Tim LaHaye is not a TV evangelist.
  • James Watt did not claim that "there was no need to protect" national parks and forests because of the imminent return of Jesus.
  • Ronald Reagan believed people could be living in the End Times long before he met Jerry Falwell.
  • Many pro-life thinkers, including Christians, advance their case against abortion without appeals to ensoulment.

It disappoints me that so many people are ready to buy into his teaching hook line and sinker without any discernment. I applaud some of what he has to say, we do need to care for the weak, the sick, and the poor. But not at the expense of Truth. Save your money, and save your time.

If you are looking for something to read, I suggest checking into Breaking the Missional Code: Your Church Can Become a Missionary in Your Community by Ed Stetzer. Mark Driscoll calls Ed Stetzer the best missional thinker in North America, and to me that is high praise. I've listened to Stetzer on a number of occasions, and he knows his stuff.

From's listing of Breaking the Missional Code:
Across North America, many pastors are excited to see churches growing as they achieve their mission to connect the message of the gospel with the community at large. Still others are equally frustrated, following the exact same model for outreach but with lesser results. Indeed, just because a "missional breakthrough" occurs in one place doesn’t mean it will happen the same way elsewhere.

One size does not fit all, but there are cultural codes that must be broken for all churches to grow and remain effective in their specific mission context. Breaking the Missional Code provides expert insight on church culture and church vision casting, plus case studies of successful missional churches impacting their communities.

"We have to recognize there are cultural barriers (in addition to spiritual ones) that blind people from understanding the gospel," the authors write. "Our task is to find the right way to break through those cultural barriers without removing the spiritual and theological ones."

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1 comment:

Paul Schafer said...

If you are still interested, I posted Ed Stetzer MP3 sermons post today on my blog, so you can still listen to more of his sermons.