Campolo blasts war on terror
From staff reports
CHARLOTTE - The United States' war on terrorism could set missions back
1,000 years, a well-known author and speaker said.
Tony Campolo, professor of sociology at Eastern College in St. Davids, Pa.,
told the N.C. Baptist Men's conference that Jesus called Christians to be
Campolo said that it has become dangerous to even quote Jesus in church
since Sept. 11.
"I'm not sure we want to hear about this Jesus who says 'Those who live by
the sword die by the sword' as we engage in a military buildup," he said.
"I'm not sure we want to hear of a Jesus who says 'Blessed are the
peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.'"
Campolo said the American government has said it won't negotiate in the war
"What's our answer to terrorism?" he asked. "It's going to set missions back
a thousand years. We're going to kill them. We're going to root them out and
Campolo compared the war to trying to get rid of malaria by killing
"You get rid of malaria by destroying the swamps in which the malaria
mosquitoes are bred," he said. "There's a swamp out there called poverty and
Campolo said he is tired of "big-time evangelists" calling Islam an evil
"You say, 'But they quote it right out of the Quran,'" he said. "I can quote
out of the New Testament and the Old Testament and make our faith a violent
religion. I would not want you to take those passages and make my God into a
violent destructive God who goes around calling His people to murder
Campolo told of how St. Francis of Assisi left the Christian army during the
Crusades, went to the tent of a sultan leading the Muslim army and tried to
win him to Christ.
"He didn't succeed but the sultan said, 'If all of you Christians were like
you, Mr. Francis, we wouldn't be here today.'"
Jesus called Christians to work for justice, Campolo said.
"If we're going to win that Muslim world to Christ we cannot make stupid
statements about their religion and we cannot, in fact, engage in a holy war
against them," he said.
Campolo said he is worried because American Christians have taken off WWJD
(What Would Jesus Do?) bracelets and replaced them with American flags.
"People, I love this country," he said. "It's the best Babylon on the face
of this earth, but it's still Babylon. This is not the kingdom of God and my
ultimate allegiance belongs to Jesus and so does yours."
Campolo described himself as a "pro-Israel evangelical," but spoke against
some of Israel's actions in its conflict with the Palestinians. He said the
fact that the people of Israel are "the chosen of God" does not make them
immune from injustice.
"When they send tanks into the West Bank and level 70 houses in retaliation
to some madman setting off a bomb in Tel-Aviv they're using Hitler-like
tactics," Campolo said. "I am suggesting that those who do not speak out for
justice for the Palestinians have no right to talk about freedom and justice
for the Jews because I've got to tell you that God loves the Palestinians
every bit as much as He loves the Jews."
Campolo also spoke out against the federal government's plan to fund
"faith-based" social programs.
"Don't allow yourself to get sucked into all this faith-based stuff that
they're talking about," he said. "I mean, you put government together with
church programs (and it) is like mixing ice cream with horse manure. It's
not going to hurt the manure but it's going to raise havoc with the ice
Campolo said some people have suggested separating evangelical promotion
from social action.
"I've got news for you - all of my social action is evangelical," he said.
"I don't think you can separate the two. That's what's been wrong with the
church, we have been separating evangelism from social action and now we're
going to really make it a doctrine of the church with the help of the U.S.
"For what? We'll sell our soul for a bowl of pottage. When will you realize
that the reason faith-based programs work is because they're faith-based?
And if you separate the faith from the rest of the program it'll go down the
To critics who say there's money in the government, Campolo said there is
money in the church.
"We don't need their lousy money," he said. "We really don't."
Campolo said Jesus calls Christians to surrender their all to the work of
"Responding to the needs of the poor is a socially transforming experience,"
he said. "It's a psychologically transforming experience and most important
it is a spiritually transforming experience."
Campolo said Southern Baptists have fought for the inerrancy of scripture.
"Are you going to do what it tells you now that it's inerrant?" he asked.
Campolo said the Southern Baptist Convention makes sure people believe all
the right things.
"Jesus never said go into all the world and make believers out of everyone,"
he said. "Is there a difference between a disciple and a believer? You bet
your life there is. A disciple is someone who follows the directives of the
master and lives them out."
Campolo said churches spend too much money on themselves.
"Billions of dollars to build buildings to honor somebody who says I don't
dwell in temples made with hands," he said. "I don't know how your theology
works, but if Jesus has a choice between stained glass windows and feeding
starving kids in Haiti I have a feeling he'd choose the starving kids in
"So we need to begin to ask as we make up our church budgets what our
missionary commitments are. What are our missionary commitments to the poor,
the oppressed, the downtrodden?"
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