I just starting reading Tony Campolo’s book, Speaking My Mind: The Radical Evangelical Prophet Tackles The Tough Issues Christians Are Afraid To Face (2004, Word Publishing) It looks to be a great read. It spurned me to do a little googling of Tony and read what people are saying. I happened upon a blog in which he was really lambasted by an Evangelical. 9The blog is called thinkerup). The blogger offers a list of quotes that suggest why he should not be read by pastors, especially youth pastors. Each of the quotes chosen focus on Campolo’s openness towards people of other faiths, openness towards gays and lesbians, openness toward Roman Catholicism, openness towards women in ministry, openness toward protection of the environment and his general theology of seeking out Christ in all persons.
Here is one of the quotes deemed to be an indicator of this man’s teaching as a false prophet. “What I am trying to say is that Jesus who incarnated God 2,000 years ago is mystically present and waiting to be discovered in EVERY person you and I encounter” This comes from his book A Reasonable Faith (1983, Lightning Source Inc). Now call me silly, but that sounds very familiar to a few words that we utter in our liturgy of baptism in the Anglican Church of Canada, namely – “Will you seek and serve Christ in ALL persons loving your neighbour as yourself.” If I was not convinced of Tony Campolo’s efficacy as a pastor and teacher of God’s love before I sat down to the computer, I am certainly sold on it now. The blogger in question is so narrow and mean spirited that his disapproval of Campolo is affirmation enough for this clueless cleric. So I charge on now to read my book, knowing that the words found within its pages are offered by a man who is living out the call of his baptism and inspiring me to do the same. I will move forward reading this book with a strong hope that it will help me to see Jesus in others. I move into reading this book hoping that I might be given better tools to teach others to be open to finding Jesus in the least expected places.
I have come to find out that there are those who are ‘Christian’ and then there are those who follow Jesus. Sometimes they are the same and that brings joy to my heart as I believe that Christians should be defined as those who follow Jesus. Campolo is a threat to those who have forgotten the words of Jesus and are fixated on the judgment of those who are not respectable Christians. I read someplace that Brian Mclaren said that “Gandhi sought to follow Jesus without being a Christian, whereas we try to be Christians without following Jesus.” This is an interesting juxtaposition and indeed one which calls us to account. Tony Campolo is espousing a theology that is focused on the life and times of Jesus. Simply put, he seems to be asking us to follow Jesus. Can we do it?
More when I finish the book…stay tuned!
[this video below is a great interview with The Hour hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos – turn off the song above befor you click play.]