Friday, October 21, 2005

Tony Campolo's false teachings and Eagle Brook Church...

The other day I received an email from Eagle Brook Church touting an event for their men's ministry in November where they are bringing in Dr. Tony Campolo. Below is the body of the email I sent in response to it. Just Google with key words Campolo Bad Theology.


Eagle Brook staff,
I wouldn't normal address this, but it is of large enough concern for me that it's been on my mind for a few days now.

I also know you probably don't care specifically about my opinion, but hopefully you will at least share my concerns. Tony Campolo has repeatedly expressed beliefs that fall outside the boundaries of orthodoxy. He has made clear his belief in the openness of God ala Clark Pinnock - that God does not know the future, and that God is reacting to our actions, and not in control. It is disappointing that the leadership of Eagle Brook Church is buying into the popularity of Campolo's name and sacrificing discernment in the process. I am not some radical fundamentalist (ask Bob Merritt (senior Pastor), I was his teaching assistant at Bethel Seminary for 2 years), just a concerned person who expects so much more from Eagle Brook Church and it's leadership. I have no doubt there will be lots of people excited about this event, probably even on your staff, but excitement does not make up for proper theology and good teaching. The event will go well, with few, if any picking up on the subtle differences in Campolo's theology, which is what makes it all the more important that the leadership team be aware of this. For reference, Dr. Albert Mohler addressed this very issue in regard to Tony Campolo's false teachings/bad theology a short time ago. You can find his concerns at:

There are many others out there that are very concerned about Campolo, I doubt most of them will say anything about it to you though. You may not be able to do anything about this event at this point, but I would hope you would at least give some thought to the issue, and set some boundaries for Dr. Campolo to avoid or mitigate his opportunities to spread his poor theology. Or you can just hit delete and dismiss my concern as a wingnut complaint. I know you are busy with your ministry, so thank you for your time, and thank you for your ministries, as I have great hope for the future of Eagle Brook Church.

_______________ (email from church below) ________________

Tony Campolo is coming to EBC for a special Infuse!
Tuesday, November 8 at 7 pm
Nationally-known speaker - worship that rocks - free dessert

Dr. Tony Campolo, a media commentator on religious, social and political issues, is coming soon to EBC! Campolo has been a guest on Nightline, Crossfire, Politically Incorrect, The Charlie Rose Show, CNN News, and more. He co-hosted his own television series, Hashing It Out, and currently hosts From Across The Pond, a weekly program on the Premier Radio Network in England. In addition to TV and radio, Campolo is the author of over 30 books-including his most recent titles: Which Jesus?, Speaking my Mind and The Church Enslaved.

This Special Event will include worship that really rocks, a great message and free dessert, so grab your friends and don't miss this night!

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Steve Thompson said...


What seminary are you attending and what are your future ministry plans?

In Christ,

p.s. That is an interesting blog about tony campolo coming to the church (yours?).

Chris Meirose said...

I am at Bethel Theological Seminary where I am the President of the Student Senate, and a 3rd year M.Div - Transformational Leadership degree student.

Eagle Brook is not my home church, though I do attend there sporadically as my schedule permits. My fiancee and I are in the process of buying two houses that sit adjacent to Eagle Brook's current campus. I was the Teaching Assistant for their Senior Pastor (Bob Merritt) for two years when he was the head of the Preaching Department for Bethel Seminary. I am currently on staff at another church, so obviously my opportunities to attend Eagle Brook are somewhat limited. We do take in their Saturday evening service when we can fit it in, and we've gone to special events there. After I am married there is a chance this will become our home church if I cannot find a paid ministry position. My fiancee really likes this church, and I do too. They are in the process of constructing a whole new campus in the North Metro of Minneapolis/St. Paul where Interstate 35W and 35E meet in Lino Lakes.

Misanthrope said...

Let's just stick to deaths from 20th century warfare - the figures are somewhere between 150 and 200 million. But if that's not enough, we could also throw in deaths from 20th century infectious diseases - here the figures are less reliable but death from infectious diseases have outstripped warfare deaths by more than a 3 to 1 margin. Smallpox alone killed approximately 300 million people in the 20th century, not to mention the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-19, which some have as low as 25 million and some as high as 100 million.

So here's one of those pesky, perhaps even sophomoric, questions that a seminarian like yourself surely has confronted: What part of "God's control" allows for such massive human death and suffering? Of course, an omnibenevolent God such as yours would never want such massive human death and suffering to occur in the first place. But then again, an omnipotent God would certainly have the resources to prevent such human death and suffering. Hmmm, now why wouldn't an omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and let's throw in omniscient, God allow these atrocities to happen?

Okay, I know, I'm missing the most important factor in all of this massive human death and suffering - freewill! We're the one's ultimately responsible for this, not God for God's sake. No, wait. Who would ever chose to contract let alone die from an infectious disease, especially when contracting such diseases usually occurs out of ignorance? And what about the deaths of all those innocent civilians during all the 20th century wars? Maybe they had it coming to them. Yes, perhaps, but what about all the children that have died due to war and disease? Did their freewill and culpability have anything to do with their untimely deaths? It's difficult to imagine what a 6 month old baby could ever do to deserve death? Hmmm, this is really a pickle isn't it.

Wait, I think I have the answer. Original sin! That's it! The original sin of Adam and Eve's disobedience to God has condemned humanity to live in a fallen world, one that doesn't work quite the way God intended, but hey "we" spilled the milk so there's hell to pay, right? Gosh darn it, I almost forgot. There's that Palestinian fella who sacrificed himself in order to take away the sting of "our" original sin and relieve humanity of that burden, which was really a swell thing to do. But didn't he do that about two thousand years ago, give or take? Maybe his victory over sin just hasn't sunk in yet - an odd victory by anyone's playbook if you ask me.

Golly, it sure is something to maintain such faith in God's providential control with reality staring you in the face. Wow! I commend you for such an improbable task, but then again you're a third year M.Div student at Bethel Theological Seminary – this is theological child's play no doubt.

In case you're interested, I would suggest some remedial reading by Dostoyevsky, namely, the Grand Inquisitor chapter in The Brothers Karamazov. I assume you've read it at least once; all good seminarians have at least peaked into The Brothers Karamazov. In any event, it doesn't portray the horrors of human existence in such magnitude but it does expose the ridiculous nature of believing in an omnipotent, omnibenevolent deity in light of this-worldly realities much better than I could ever do. Happy theodicy reading!

Best, Buridan

Chris Meirose said...

I doubt you'll come back and read these comments, but if you do thanks for stopping in. You present a problem that every generation of Christian has had to deal with - the problem of evil. You seem to have some head knowledge about faith. My question is what has caused this pain in you? How have you been hurt by the Church or Christianity? I don't think your problem is with the problem of evil, that is just your toe hold of resistance, what you've latched onto to convince yourself that not only does God not love you, but probably that God does not exist. I will pray for you, even though you probably don't care or want it. May God show His grace and glory to you.

Big Chris

Misanthrope said...

Big Chris,

I wouldn't miss your response for the world. Although I'm a little disappointed that you've skirted the issue of theodicy here and decided to impute psychological motives for my challenge. You don't know me.

Anyway, it's your blog and you can do what you want but I think you can do better than that; but then again I don't know you. And by all means keep praying for me. It's alway fun to have a few Christians praying my eternal soul.

Chris Meirose said...

You would have me chasing windmills. If I thought you were genuninely seeking answers I might be willing to engage, but it's clear you think you have all the answers. So I don't think I have skirted the issue in the least bit. The issue is you think you have the answers. It always seems to return to pride.

Big Chris

Misanthrope said...

"If I thought you were genuninely seeking answers I might be willing to engage, but it's clear you think you have all the answers."

Think about that statement for just a moment, especially in light of your remark about pride...

I know this is probably hard for you to get your head around, but I'm not necessarily seeking answers here. Have you ever read Plato? It's called the Socratic method - it's the skeptics tool so-to-speak. Answers are boring. It's the questions that are interesting and worth pursuing.

And by the way, how would you ever know what I am "genuinely seeking" if anything at all? I'm sorry to disappoint you but I'm really not seeking the proverbial answers to life. Isn't wrestling with ideas enough to generate your interest, i.e., without necessarily knowing the outcome or perhaps entertaining the possibility that what you beleive is wrong?

Why are you assuming that I have all these ulterior motives?

Chris Meirose said...

On the Pride - I didn't initiate this, and have not said, nor attempted to display, that I have all the answers. Between examining your initial comment, as well as the posts on your blog, it's clear there are ulterior motives, and to claim otherwise is disingenuous. I could go into the nihilism of atheism, or how it is a worship of self, but I don't see the gain from that at this point. So what is it that you base your morality upon?

Big Chris

Misanthrope said...

Okay, I see you're not interesting in debating this issue, so I won't press it any further. I just grow weary sometimes of debating/discussing issues with people that always agree with me. My response was meant as a provocative challenge and I thought you might take up the challenge. I'm glad you have such confidence in what my motives may or may not be. In any event, no harm done, I'll just look elsewhere. Good luck to ya!

gary0033 said...

Burian, it seems your objection to God's sovereignty is based squarely on terrible tragedies that have perplexed mankind since the beginning. If we all based our theology on that which we can understand, where would our understanding of God be? Maybe where yours is.

Did God give us an accurate and trustworthy guide in scripture or not? If He did, this is the source of our understanding of sovereignty. If not, then let's just all make it up based on what we think about whatever event seems most important to our psyche. You know, like you do.

Unknown said...

That was interesting. I wish the exchange would continue. I think that it is hard for Christians today to struggle with questions that people like Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn or Tolstoy pondered. These suburban churches have become so insulated and are safe havens for Christians whose main concern is affirming, or maybe better yet, confirming the value and relevance of their personhood. I left a like minded church, North Heights, quite a few years ago. I slowly realized as I went to the U of M that I was already exchanging the pulpit for the lectern, so to speak, and after watching that extremely white intro video on the Eagle Brook website I realize my disdain was not in vain. I actually came across this blog while I was looking up something that a friend of mine had called me about. His mother has been going to this church and she had just left his house after condemning him to hell for not being a Christian. He was a little beside himself. But that wasn't why I was looking into Eagle Brook. He said that you guys have a Starbucks at the location? I didn't see any evidence of it on the site. But it wouldn't surprise me. I have been hearing tell of ATM's at the newer mega churches. I really can't believe that this is what Christianity has come to. By the way I am a Christian. Born Again. Baptized in the Spirit. Speaking in Tongues. But I don't feel the need to justify travel to other destinations to save people, since Christianity has gone out to the whole world and you would find just as many unsaved at home. I also can't believe, in light of the one angry act that Christ seemed to have had on earth- kicking the money changers out of the temple, that these churches, with these multi million dollar budgets and businesses, really exist. I mean, doesn't anyone find this hypocritical at all?! And we Christians are so upset about Gays, and so upset about women's rights- women who do not believe the same as we do- (at all), and so upset about stem cell research, that we are going to once again let that dog and pony show of the conservative agenda distract us from the unjustified and senseless slaughter going on in Iraq. We don't go to war unless we have an unbelievably justifiable reason to go. You just don't do it. The extent of destruction that encompasses these wars is unimaginable. My sister, who is a Major in the Army doesn't sugarcoat it for me. Didn't anyone wonder why another group of people may be outraged at the United States and a lot of the Western countries after centuries of raping their resources and leaving them destitute for generation after generation? Do people at Eagle Brook think these incredibly clean and well oiled American industries- including these suburban churches, exist just because of our incredible ingenuity and blessed place in God's pocket? Did anyone read our history? I think it is time to get back to our sandal wearing roots and meet in homes and fields and woods and just care about each other and the earth we live on. I am no hippie, believe me. I believe in my North Face fleece and Marmot shell, a Bell Canoe and my Montero to take me to those hard to reach places. And it is in those hard to reach places that I still feel the solitude and splendor of God's creation. We are really doing our best to destroy those things that humans, once these places are gone or compromised, are really going to miss. I'm signing up Christians and conservatives who don't believe in global warming. And I will get back to you in twenty years and see where you're at.

Chris Meirose said...

I'm not an Eagle Brook attender any longer, and nor am I an EB apologist, but I think they are doing some really good things in their community and in the world. While we can quibble about methodology, they are changing people's lives for Christ, and at the end of the day that is the most important measure.

Eagle Brook has their own Cafe where they do serve coffee and muffins and such. Not a $tarbuck$ though. They also have a small book store. This is no different than many other large churches, including others in the Twin Cities (Wooddale Church quickly comes to mind). If you ever visit the Lino Lakes campus of Eagle Brook, you'll see the need for a coffee shop. The church is in a corn field in the middle of nowhere.

Big Chris

rastamon said...

Please contact I at pride.of.judah@!!!!

Love to chat about this subject!!!

Unknown said...

I was on vacation last week and just got your message. What would you like to chat about? I've consolidated my earlier thoughts into one basic idea now. The problem confronting humanity and the only known blue planet in the universe is pollution and population. I know the majority of Christians don't really care what kind of mess they are making on this world because they have set their sites on heavan. But I think it is an injustice to God and an injustice to the God-given head we have on our shoulders to not make use of the world's resources wisely. It should be part and parcel of the wise and compassionate being that we should aspire to be. Loving and caring should be all encompassing not just one dimensional. I have been hearing about the population problem my whole life and I think that people just really don't want to confront the crisis. To solve the pollution and population problem on this, the only blue planet in the universe, seems impossible. I have no idea how we would go about it. But I would hate to see a major catastrophe happen before we are forced to have to do something about this industrial complex that is creating so much pollution and a population that is exponentially expanding.

In Russet Shadows said...

Thanks for the info on Tony. Your blog seems to attract all manners of theology and leftist trolls, though. Funny how the truth always brings out those devoted to its destruction.