Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Campolo's Confused Ethics on Display at BGAV

Photo: Tony Campolo speaking at the very post-modern looking stage at the 2008 BGAV Meeting on the theme, "Who is My Neighbor?"
Social Gospel activist and American Baptist preacher Tony Campolo was the theme interpretation speaker at this year’s annual meeting of the moderate Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) November 11-12 in Roanoke.

Campolo stirred things up by saying that he was against California’s recent successful passage of Proposition 8 affirming a traditional definition of marriage. Robert Dilday offers this report on Campolo’s comments in his Baptist Press article (see the ABP article also by Dilday):

Interpreting the meeting's theme "Who Is My Neighbor?" Campolo said, "The Samaritans were those who were considered spiritually unclean, abominations in the eyes of God." Some of today's "Samaritans," he said, are the poor, Muslims, illegal immigrants and gays.Campolo called himself "a conservative on the issue" of homosexuality, but said he opposed Proposition 8.
Describing homosexual behavior "contrary to the teaching of God," he nonetheless questioned what was gained in passing the ballot initiative."What did we win? ... I'll tell you what we won," he said. "We won tens of thousands of gays and lesbians parading up and down the streets of San Francisco and New York and L.A. screaming against the church, seeing the church as enemy.
"I don't know how we're going to reach these brothers and sisters," he said, "but I'm an evangelical and I'm going to win them to Christ.... And we're not going to win them to Christ if we keep sending them bad messages, and we've sent them a bad message. I think the decision in California was in agreement with how I believe, but sometimes you've got to consider the person before you bang them over the head with your principles."

Campolo is more than a little confused in his argument. First, our primary concern should not be whether or not sinners will be upset when Christians stand up for godly values. We should be concerned with how God views our actions and not man.

Second, Campolo’s method does not seem to agree with that of Christ’s. When Jesus met the woman at the well he did not hesitate to expose her sin: "for you have had five husbands and the one whom you now have is not your husband" (John 4:18). His final word to the woman caught in adultery is "Go and sin no more" (John 11:10). Campolo seems to think that the loving thing to do is to ignore sin. This is not the track Jesus took.

Finally, Campolo can say he takes a "conservative" view on homosexual practice all he wants. In fact, he often notes that he disagrees with his wife who promotes full and uncritical acceptance of homosexual practice (By the way, where is his spiritual leadership in the family on this issue?). But, in truth, his view is far from any definition of "conservative" that I know. He clearly does not see homosexual practice as an abominable sin in the way the writers of Scripture do (see Gen 19; Lev 18:22; Rom 1:26-32; 1 Cor 6:9-10; 1 Tim 1:8-11).

To illustrate, let’s say that California had a proposition that would ban incest, bestiality, or pedophilia (things that also are clearly denounced in Scripture). Would Campolo say of Christian support of the civil authority’s efforts to ban such activities:

"I don't know how we're going to reach these brothers and sisters … but I'm an evangelical and I'm going to win them to Christ.... And we're not going to win them to Christ if we keep sending them bad messages, and we've sent them a bad message. I think the decision in California was in agreement with how I believe, but sometimes you've got to consider the person before you bang them over the head with your principles."

Would he worry about "sending bad messages" to pedophiles or warn Christians against banging the incestuous "over the head with your principles"? The very nature of his argument reveals that he does not truly believe homosexual practice to be a vile abomination before God.

Do those who claim to be conservative, Bible believing Christians need any more evidence as to why they and their churches should leave the BGAV as soon as possible? Conservative Pastors in BGAV churches: Copy the Dilday article and give it to your laypeople to read. Let them put the pieces together.

JTR

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

You seem to be such a sad, hate-filled, small-minded man. I hope you find happiness someday and learn to love as Jesus did.

B.Overstreet said...

I found the following on desiringgod.org website. It might add perspective.

Tozer put it like
this: "To 'accept Christ' . . . we accept His friends as our friends, His enemies as our enemies, His ways as our ways, His rejection as our rejection, His cross as our cross, His life as our life and His future as our future" (Gems from Tozer, p. 51).

It is very harmful to people to create an atmosphere in which people think that they are saved by "receiving Jesus as Savior" when they reject him in many other ways. "Receiving Jesus" means receiving Jesus for who he really is—Savior, Lord, Marriage Counselor, Vocational Counselor, Therapist, Financial Planner, Nutritional Specialist, Wardrobe Consultant, etc. To try to pick and choose the things about Jesus you find convenient to receive, rejecting the rest, is not to receive Jesus as he really is.

Pastor Jeff said...

Anon,

At least you qualified your comment by saying I only "seem" to be all the things you said. In fact, I would say I am generally quite happy and content; filled with love for my God, my wonderful wife, my beautiful children, my courageous church, and my kind friends. If by "small-minded" you mean "narrow-minded," you may well be on the right track. I do attempt to limit my thinking to what Scripture allows. I do want to love God and my fellow man as Jesus did. I agree that I very often fall short of this and pray that God would graciously help me be more like Christ.

You did not tell me why you think I "seem" to be this way. Do you think it is wrong for me to call homosexual behavior an abomination? To compare it with bestiality, incest, pedophilia? Do you think it is wrong for me to criticize Campolo for his public remarks? To say that Campolo's approach does not match up with Christ's? To urge individuals and churches to flee the BGAV?

If you have some explanation I would be happy to hear it, and if I am convinced you are right I will repent and change course. Are you open-minded enough to consider my observations on their own merit and make a reply to them, rather than attack my character? Otherwise, your comment is simply an "ad hominem" argument.

Grace, JTR

Steve Hills said...

Thanks for this article. I sums up pretty well what I was feeling after this BGAV meeting.