Friday, April 6, 2007

Great Social Justice Passion and Poor Theology

I read on Thinkerup about some quotes that Tony Campolo has made in the past. For those of you who don't know Dr. Campolo has been a professor of sociology at Eastern University in St. David's, PA, and has been very influential in youth ministry circles.

He lately has been known more for being a mouthpiece for the religious left and the Democratic Party than for issues of social justice. I admire his passion for ministry to the poor, but his theology leaves a lot to be desired. A couple of quotes below makes me wonder how he can still call himself an evangelical. What do you think?
"I am saying that there is no salvation apart from Jesus; that's my evangelical mindset. However, I am not convinced that Jesus only lives in Christians"

-Tony Campolo (National Liberty Journal, 8/99)

"...what can I say to an Islamic brother who has fed the hungry, and clothed the naked? You say, "But he hasn't a personal relationship with Christ." I would argue with that. And I would say from a Christian perspective, in as much as you did it to the least of these you did it unto Christ. You did have a personal relationship with Christ, you just didn't know it."

-Tony Campolo


Anonymous said...

Evangelical? I've got to wonder if he's a Christian!

Noah Braymen said...

His son doesn't do too well on the "Good Theology" scale either.

Nice catch Shane! I've had concerns w/ the Campolo's for a while!

Shane Vander Hart said...

To the anonymous poster - I appreciate your sentiment, but I'm inclined not to judge one's salvation. I can't say that I know his heart. Unfortunately there are a lot of people in our churches (evangelical & mainline) who hold a moral relativistic point of view.

The problem is that a lot of people (not just the Campolo's). Want to interpret scripture through a cultural lens. Instead we should be looking at culture through a scriptural lens.

The Thunderer said...

"The problem is that a lot of people want to interpret scripture through a cultural lens. Instead we should be looking at culture through a scriptural lens."

Absolutely, fantastic thought! A great watchword for today. I may well use it sometime myself!

As for Campolo, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck...

Shane Vander Hart said...


The only time culture should enter the picture in interpreting scripture is understanding the culture and times of the original readers. That is just part of good hermenutics. Also considering how to communicate timeless truth in a manner that will connect with culture today. The message stays the same, how we share it may change.