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1934SBC Reacts to Criticism by Tony Campolo

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  • umcornet
    Jul 1, 2003
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      The commentary comes from the Baptist Press, official news service of
      the Southern Baptist Convention, which rejects women clergy.

      Campolo: Opposition to women preachers evidence of demonic influence
      By Gregory Tomlin
      Jun 27, 2003

      CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BP)--Anyone who resists the notion of women
      preachers is functioning as a tool of the devil, Tony Campolo,
      founder and president of the Evangelical Association for the
      Promotion of Education, said during the opening session of the
      Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's general assembly June 26.

      A sociologist by training, Campolo said that one of the primary
      reasons the CBF exists is because "another group" said it would not
      endorse the idea that women can serve as pastors. He characterized
      that statement as "about as evil a statement as one can make."

      "It's one thing to be wrong, but that isn't wrong, that's sinful. The
      Bible says, 'neglect not the gift that is in you,' and when women are
      gifted with the gift of preaching, anybody who frustrates that gift
      is an instrument of the devil," Campolo said.

      Campolo encouraged the CBF to continue combating the sexism of those
      whom he said, "change the Bible to fit their theology." He also said
      that the other group, still anonymous, had an improper attitude about
      homosexuals. Any doubt that Campolo was targeting the Southern
      Baptist Convention dissolved when he said that some have "drawn the
      line" and said they would "fight out" the issue of homosexuality.

      In a statement to Baptist Press, Morris H. Chapman, president and CEO
      of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee reproved
      Campolo for his strident remarks against Southern Baptists and their

      "I read with regret the unwarranted and unnecessary remarks of Tony
      Campolo. For some time now, those in evangelical circles have
      observed with sadness his drift from biblical authority.

      "Tony Campolo is known for bombast and overstatement, but I think
      this may be a new low for him. His remarks are unbecoming of one
      wishing to be recognized as a Christian spokesman. Pugnacity should
      not be mistaken for the prophetic spirit.

      Chapman specifically addressed Campolo's characterization as "sinful"
      what Southern Baptists believe about the role of pastor.

      "The intemperance and unkindness of his tone pale in comparison to
      the gravity of his characterization as "evil" and "sinful" those who
      take what they believe to be a biblical position on the issue of
      female pastors. I presume that to his mind, the majority of
      Christians of all ages, who have held to the teaching of the
      Scripture on this topic, is evil as well. Southern Baptists have
      plainly stated what we believe New Testament teaching on the issue to
      be. For that, we have no apologies to offer Mr. Campolo."

      Chapman also remarked on Campolo's objection to Southern Baptists'
      beliefs about homosexuality.

      "We believe we will have miserably failed those entrapped by
      homosexuality if we are unfaithful either in biblical witness or
      compassionate ministry to those with same sex attractions. As
      important as the struggle for dignity is, it is even more important
      that we live under the Lordship of Christ and the authority of the
      Scripture, and teach others to do so.

      Stating that Scripture says that homosexual activity is an
      abomination to the Lord, Chapman added, "That is an extremely serious
      statement, and cute quips cannot substitute for serious thought in
      dealing with it.

      "We do take the injunctions against homosexual behavior seriously,
      but we also strenuously believe that God shows His mercy and grace to
      all who repent, and that homosexual persons, like all sinners, are
      candidates for the forgiveness, grace, and cleansing of the Lord when
      they turn to Him from their sin. We also deeply believe that we are
      responsible to treat all others with kindness, and that hatred of
      anyone is forbidden.

      Campolo said that he and his wife have different opinions about gay
      and lesbian marriages. She favors them, but he does not and refers to
      himself as a "conservative" on the issue.

      "Both of us are committed to justice for gays and lesbians regardless
      of what we may in fact say theologically," he said. "When in fact we
      live in a society that makes life hell for gays and lesbians, this
      community has got to stand up and say, 'We're on your side as you
      struggle for dignity,' and, 'Yes, we will defy anybody who says
      otherwise, even if we have to go to Disneyland to prove it.'"

      Campolo apparently was referencing a resolution adopted by the
      Southern Baptist Convention in 1997 that encouraged Southern Baptists
      to boycott Walt Disney theme parks and motion pictures because of the
      company's soft stance on homosexuality.

      He said that he wasn't asking participants at the CBF meeting to take
      one theological position over another, but only to show love and
      compassion for people "who have had their teeth kicked in by the
      church for far too many years." He also said that even conservatives
      needed to stand up and fight for gays and lesbians.

      Southern Baptist leaders stressed the need to reach out in ministry
      to homosexuals in numerous sermons and press conferences at the 2003
      SBC annual meeting in Phoenix last week. There, James T. Draper Jr.,
      president of LifeWay Christian Resources, and Richard Land, president
      of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, reported on
      Southern Baptists efforts to reach homosexuals for Christ.

      "God loves all people, including those trapped in homosexuality, and
      He is looking for people who will reach them with His saving, healing
      love through Jesus Christ," Draper said. "We pray that you will make
      yourselves available to God's leading and that He will lead you to
      begin a ministry to reach all the precious men and women for whom
      Jesus died."

      "We want to encourage you to consider how God could work through you
      and your church to reach homosexual men and women," Land
      said. "Churches must become places of healing." Land said that the
      Bible teaches that homosexuals can change in relationship with Christ.

      Campolo said that his views on homosexuality and women in the
      ministry were drawn from the Bible, which most mainline denominations
      have not used in so long that they've become "biblically illiterate
      or biblical insensitive."

      "Don't you ever listen to Billy Graham? Every fifth sentence that
      Billy Graham utters is what? 'The Bible says,' 'The Bible says.'
      People, they won't believe anything we tell them unless we can
      convince them that the Bible says it. ...When we say we're Baptists,
      we accept no creed but the Bible, but then after we say that we never
      talk about the Bible. We never announce what it is the Bible says on
      each and every social issue and theme," Campolo said.

      Campolo included a number of political statements in his sermon. He
      attacked the Bush administration's tax cut and environmental policies
      on several occasions, labeling the policies "evil" and "sick."

      "Five hundred thousand kids will lose their after school programs to
      pay for this tax cut to the rich. The rich are going to benefit. I'm
      going to benefit. It's the poor that are going to take it in the
      teeth," he said. He also said that 44 million people in the United
      States have no healthcare coverage.

      "It is evil for the richest nation on the face of the earth not to
      provide medical care for all its people. That's obscene," he said.

      A solution to these problems, Campolo said, is for Christians to do
      good on personal and societal levels and combat racism, war and
      poverty. He encouraged CBF participants to be advocates for the Jews
      and the Palestinians.

      "Time magazine's cover story this week is 'Should Christians try to
      convert Muslims.' Well, how are you going to do it if you're kicking
      them every time you turn around? Where do we get off?" He said that
      the Palestinian people had been driven off their land and lost more
      than 2,000 villages to Israeli bulldozers.

      "I do not justify Hamas and terrorism any more than I legitimate the
      terrorism of the Israeli army," he said. "One half of all our foreign
      aid goes to Israel. They've now created the fourth most powerful army
      in the world."

      The perpetual cycle of violence in the Middle East is not the result
      of Palestinians, according to Campolo. He said that the "evangelical
      lobby" is pushing Israel to drive all Palestinians from the land and
      establish Jerusalem as a capital because that fits with their
      dispensational views about the end times.

      "I hear Christian radio denouncing poor Harry [Potter] who chooses
      the right friends and runs with the right crowd and does the right
      thing. ... That's good for kids to hear," he said. "Instead of
      preaching against Harry Potter I suggest that you people who are
      preachers start preaching against those really hot sellers in the
      Christian community, those 'Left Behind' books. Nobody wants to say
      it. You are scared to attack the 'Left Behind' books which are false
      theology and unbiblical to the core. And it is about time you stand
      up and say so.

      "I mean all of this stuff comes out of not only fundamentalism. It
      comes out of dispensationalism, which is a weird little form of
      fundamentalism that started like a hundred fifty years ago. ...
      Augustine doesn't talk about it. Calvin, Luther, none of those people
      talk about it. Southern Seminary has now enshrined Calvin. Well, if
      you're going to enshrine Calvin at least accept his eschatology,
      which would put 'Left Behind' out of business tomorrow," he said.

      R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological
      Seminary, said to Baptist Press that Campolo's comments show how far
      out of step he is with Southern Baptists.

      "Unfortunately, Dr. Campolo is a sociologist rather than a
      theologian. His venom toward the Southern Baptist Convention and his
      advocacy of liberal positions on social and moral issues puts him in
      no position to judge the SBC or its institutions," said Mohler.

      "Controversy follows Dr. Campolo wherever he goes, and it seems to be
      as much for his enjoyment and publicity as for any constructive
      purpose. The fact that the CBF would have him as one of their major
      speakers says everything."

      Campolo said that Christians would "never leave suffering people
      behind" and stay until the end "or we couldn't call ourselves
      Christian. What the Bible makes clear is that we are to stay here in
      this world struggling against the powers of darkness until the Second

      Campolo said that he believes in the rapture of the church, but not
      as described in the theology of the "Left Behind" series that many
      have used to avoid engagement in society and political life. He also
      said that evangelicals have "made the UN the instrument of anti-

      "No wonder America spits on the UN," he said. "And they put down what
      government can do. I think that we need to challenge the government
      to do the work of the Kingdom of God, to do what is right in the eyes
      of the Lord. That whole sense of the rapture, which may occur at any
      moment, is used as a device to oppose engagement with the
      principalities, the powers, the political and economic structures of
      our age.

      "I have already made the point that we need to have to win people to
      Jesus Christ, but we must also preach the whole Gospel which not only
      calls people to love Jesus but to bring His justice into the
      political and economic arena in which we live."