Saturday, July 28, 2007


Tony Campolo

Last Sunday I had the opportunity to hear a sermon by Tony Campolo, professor emeritus of Sociology at Eastern University and an ordained minister in the American Baptist Church, at Lakeside Sunday service at Hoover Auditorium (I'd already attended worship on the lakefront). He was the "Chaplain of the Week." Regardless of what you think of his theology or the larger umbrella of "the emergent church" you'll never hear a more entertaining Christian. He even jokes about being a bald guy with a son named Bart and a daughter named Lisa. He's a member of a predominantly African American congregation, and can preach it with patois better than anyone I know. If you were to hear it on a recording, you'd never guess he's an Italian American.

I always listen carefully for the gospel--not the social, feel-good, do-gooder peace and justice gospel, but the real Jesus-died-on-the-cross-for-your-sins, because without that you're just kiddin' around, giving people false hope that they can get into the kingdom with good works. Jesus didn't set aside any of the ethical and moral codes of the Jews developed over hundreds of years--the good news was about him. And Tony did mention it--at the end of the sermon. If you're in a liturgical church that sings traditional hymns and has a lesson from the NT and OT, you can fill in what the preacher misses. But why should you need to?

Thirty some years ago I had the impression that Prof. Campolo and I were on the same page. Of course, I'd been a works-Christian most of my life before 1974, so maybe it was just that with the fresh blush and bloom of the Gospel, I didn't notice that some people who called themselves Evangelicals had become bored with the Good News of Jesus and wanted to "move on." Or maybe he came to the conclusion that there were no unbelievers in the pew. Wrong. If the folks aren't saved, Tony, there's not much point to a stunning sermon about the spirit.

Cross posted from Collecting My Thoughts


Three Score and Ten or more said...

When I posted on my blog attacking acronyms, I thought of you--not attacking , just contemplating the term "Church of the acronym".

SoChange said...

I think everyone will enjoy the clip of Tony on Eastern University's website at