Posts Tagged ‘Tony Campolo’

Behold the left wing of the United Methodist Church!

June 15, 2015

Glutton for punishment that I am, apparently, I sometimes interact with fellow United Methodist clergy from around the country on the UMC clergy Facebook page. Last Saturday, I participated in a lengthy comment thread about “evangelical left” leader Tony Campolo’s alleged change of heart on the LGBT issue. In a statement that surprised no one, Campolo now says that homosexual behavior isn’t inherently sinful.

One outspoken progressive colleague (whom I haven’t met, although we’ve argued online often enough) accused me of “eisegesis” in my traditional interpretation of scripture regarding sexuality. (Eisegesis means reading something into the text that isn’t there.)

By the logic of my college’s argument, however, if I’m misinterpreting scripture regarding homosexual practice, I’m also misinterpreting passages related to other sexual sin, including adultery, fornication, and lust. So I asked him repeatedly to clarify himself: are these other sexual sins in the Bible not really sinful? Does Jesus himself have a problem with sexual sin, however much we may disagree on what this category includes?

Here is the most interesting part of the exchange. (I’ve removed his name and photo, not because this clergy page isn’t public—it’s open for all the world to see—but because I believe he ought to be ashamed of himself, and I don’t want to pile on.)

He begins by telling me that he’s “inviting [me] to examine [myself] and [my] assumptions.”


At that point, one United Methodist “concern troll” posted the following:

This isn’t conferencing. This appears to be about winning points for one’s side. Where’s the listening? The attention to making sure all are understood and respected?

Both Mr Wesley and Paul might describe this as unprofitable conversation.

I can only imagine what “Mr Wesley” and Paul would say about my colleague’s viewpoint! What does Paul say of those in the Galatian church who were telling Gentiles that they must first get circumcised in order to become Christian?

As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

How “unprofitable” on Paul’s part!

People don’t often reject Christianity because it’s hard to believe

October 23, 2014

While John Lomperis doesn’t say at which “stage of heresy” Bart Campolo was when he served as a United Methodist youth minister (one hopes a very early one!), I otherwise appreciated this reflection on Campolo’s journey, as the son of progressive evangelical leader Tony, from growing up evangelical to becoming the “humanist chaplain” at USC.

We often speak of faith as if it’s something that happens in spite of ourselves: either we believe or we don’t, and there’s not much we can do about it. Campolo’s story, told briefly in this Forbes magazine profile on leadership, gives the lie to that. Faith is as least as much a matter of the will. We choose it, and the rest of our life follows.

My point is, I don’t think it’s very hard, intellectually, to believe in Christianity. We may reject Christianity for other reasons, but it’s likely not because we’ve weighed all the evidence for its truth claims and find that we just can’t believe it.

I completely agree with this, from Lomperis:

Christian churches obviously differ on all sorts of important but ultimately secondary issues such as infant baptism, women’s ordination, congregational autonomy, episcopal succession, and charismatic gifts. But once one crosses the line of rejecting matters of core, historic Christian orthodoxy (like the eternally triune nature of God, His omnipotence, His performance of laws-of-physics-breaking miracles, Christ’s bodily resurrection, or whether or not we can simply jettison parts of Scriptural teaching that seem too demanding or counter-cultural), this has a way of throwing up everything for grabs. One would be hard-pressed to find someone who has crossed such a very fundamental line of faithfulness in belief or personal practice, but in every other respect is truly a model of Christian purity in doctrine and life. Unfaithfulness has a tendency to spread, like a cancer, until it has overwhelmed its host.