Friday, July 17, 2015

The positive prophet of Red Letter Christianity. . .

Tony Campolo has been all over the new for years.  He was spiritual adviser to then President Clinton.  You can find him on the remnant of Schuller's empire with Bobby Schuller.  You can find him on the Colbert Report and a host of other media venues.  You can read him in a host of books and articles too numerous to mention here.  One thing Tony Campolo is not shy about is talking about Tony Campolo.

For a long time he was pro-life and anti-gay marriage.  Now Tony has changed.  Change is something very much a part of Tony Campolo's life from conservative Baptist roots to evangelical media star -- mostly while teaching at several secular universities. In 2011 he began hosting the TV show Red Letter Christians, aired on JC-TV.  Tony Campolo is an interesting and captivating speaker and quite persuasive when he wants to be.  He was for a long time one of the few liberals to be pro-life and against same sex marriage on the progressive wing of the evangelical movement.  That has changed.  He is now in favor of same sex marriage.

Interestingly, his mind was not changed by Scripture or arguments from the Word of God but by his experience, his own reason, and the claims of modern science and psychology.  One reason I am changing my position on this issue is that, through Peggy, I have come to know so many gay Christian couples whose relationships work in much the same way as our own,said Campolo.  In other words, I love my wife and I appreciate the life we have together and it would be patently unfair to deny this same blessing to others on the basis of sexual orientation.  In addition, I have seen that same sex couples have relationships that work pretty much like mine.  (Tony's point of view).

Secondly, As a social scientist, I have concluded that sexual orientation is almost never a choice and I have seen how damaging it can be to try to “cure” someone from being gay. As a Christian, my responsibility is not to condemn or reject gay people, but rather to love and embrace them, and to endeavor to draw them into the fellowship of the Church. When we sing the old invitation hymn, “Just As I Am”, I want us to mean it, and I want my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to know it is true for them too.  In other words, Tony is too smart to buy the Biblical objections and too rational to accept that one order is from God and only one order.  We all come to Jesus just as we are and Jesus loves us that way because He made us that way. . . according to Tony's logic.

Those are inevitably the two paths that almost everyone heads down when they change their minds about what marriage is and who it is for.  I know gay people and they are basically like me and they want the same things I want and it would just be unfair and unjust to deny them what I have.  The second argument is that I am a 21st century person with modern values, a scientific world view, and a certain level of sophistication and to reject same sex marriage or question it is barbaric and contrary to my elevated sense of self and my educated opinions.

What is missing here is any sense of the impact of the Fall and original sin upon the human condition as a whole.  What is missing here is any sense that any of our desires could be disordered and in opposition to divine intent and Biblical revelation.  What is missing here is any sense that love is strong enough to meet people in their sins but not leave them there, not approve their sins as good, and not support every disordered desire that proceeds from the sinful heart.  What is missing here is any sense that marriage was ordered for more than my companionship and sexual pleasure -- that it exists primarily to fulfill the divine mandate to be fruitful and multiply and to prevent sexual sin (the first thing that sin broke was marriage and the first skewed desire was the sexual desire according to Genesis).

Recall how the old Book of Common Prayer rite succinctly defined the purposes of marriage:
      First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.
      Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body.
      Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can shew any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace.

If our experiences and our reason are the primary drivers of our opinions, Tony is but the first of many who will end up wondering why anyone could or should be denied their right to pleasure with whomever they desire and to fulfill their want for companionship with whomever they choose.  This will happen any time and every time we replace truth with feelings and experience.  Tony has decided that his experience, reason, and science says that the Bible is wrong.  Well, if the Bible is wrong about this, what else is it wrong about?


Unknown said...

". As a Christian, my responsibility is not to condemn or reject gay people, but rather to love and embrace them, and to endeavor to draw them into the fellowship of the Church. "
Pastor Peters, in the sentence above, replace "gay people" with your personal most frustrating sin against God; then read the sentence again. Would you want Christians to reject you because of your sin?

David Gray said...

A pastor who is guilty of gross sin and is unrepentant should indeed be disciplined.

Carl Vehse said...

"Tony has decided that his experience, reason, and science says that the Bible is wrong."

As his own self-omniscient god (and a social scientist, to boot) Tony claims authority to override the Triune God when he decides that God's divine will in Scripture is not fair.

How much Campolo demonstrates his violation of the First Commandment is explained in this excerpt from January 13, 2003, Testimony of the Rev. Dr. David L. Adams before the Synodical Dispute Resolution Panel:

"The point is that the issue in the First Commandment is proximity not sequence. The God of the Bible is not claiming the right to be first in the affections of his people (as the phrase before me in English can easily be misunderstood to mean), He is prohibiting His people from allowing any other god anywhere around Him. Yahweh does not want to be our first god, or even to be first in our life; he insists upon being our only god, the only divine being that we have anything to do with. The First Commandment is a demand for a radical and absolute exclusivity in our relationship with the realm of divine beings."

Dr. Adams translates the First Commandment, "You must not have other gods before my face." With his support for homosexual "marriage" Tony Campolo is now blaspheming God before His face."

Anonymous said...

Must we embrace the sin to love the sinner?

Joseph said...

Jesus I know, and St. Paul I know, and the Church Fathers I know, but who is Tony Campolo.

Anonymous said...

What about a situation where there is a large family where all of the children have been baptized and confirmed in the LCMS and then one of the siblings realizes that he or she is gay? Are the rest of the family members supposed to lecture this sibling on her sinfulness over the Thanksgiving Day dinner table? Or do we love this siblings and support him and thus disregard the teachings of the LCMS and eventually leave and find other churches?
The LCMS pastor at the church where we siblings were all confirmed is divorced and remarried, how is this church to condemn someone who was aware at a young age that he/she was a little different? We would rather support our sibling and his/her partner with love and make family happiness a priority and find other churches where we are made to feel welcome.
---- Carol

David Gray said...

When a loved family member falls into sin the family must love that member and call them to repentance. Supporting their sin and damnation is not a loving response.

Anonymous said...

@ MS. Carol @ Mr. Davis,

We are called to live lives of repentance and to turn from our sins. I hate my addiction to porn, and I will spend the rest of my life turning(repenting) from that sin. What a disservice to me if the LCMS told me "it's ok to use porn, God doesn't care". That's a lie from Hell. We always speak the truth in love to homosexuals, and telling them lies like the popular culture is doing is no service to them. Uncomfortable yes, but always the truth. Thanks.

Kirk Skeptic said...

@Anonymous: The ssa Christians I know who struggle with their sin yet remain celibate would add an hearty amen.