Tony Campolo comes to Carmarthen

One of my favorite Christian thinkers of our time is Tony Campolo, I have huge respect for him. This Saturday he’s the keynote speaker at the English Welsh Baptist’s annual Union meeting and the evening meeting is public so I’m going to hear him speak live. I’ve been reading the books and tuning in to the podcasts for some years now so I’m really looking forward to see and hear him in flesh. It really saddens me that some Christians go around branding him as a Liberal only because he preaches the Kingdom of God in it’s full glory and not only personal salvation. He still affirms the importance of personal salvation only that he teaches that the Gospel is more than personal salvation only. In my view he knocks the nail on it’s head and brings a much needed counter emphasis to the evangelical world.

The meeting is at 7pm, Saturday 13th June at Tabernacle Chapel, Waterloo Terrace, Carmarthen – £5 on the door. Arrive early to avoid disappointment.

I’ll let the man speak for himself now….


7 Responses to “Tony Campolo comes to Carmarthen”

  1. Steffan Says:

    Hi Rhys,

    I’d be intrigued to know what was the message of hope offered by Tony Campolo in Carmarthen, because, to be honest his video leaves me without hope and down-hearted. It is full of false promises and expectations.

    Of course we are to care for the needy, and to look after the poor. The gospel is demonstrated when the many parts of Christ’s body help each other. We are too support the poor and the persecuted, especially within the Church (Matt. 25: 31-46).

    But Isaiah 65 will never be fulfilled this side of Jesus’ Second Coming and the New Creation. This creation is groaning, a fallen creation, and we are to expect sorrow and pain.

    “Never again will there be in it
    an infant who lives but a few days,
    or an old man who does not live out his years”

    To expect fulfilment of this in this present world gives us wrong expectations, and suffering will crush us. It also robs us of the absolute promise here. There is a place being prepared for us with no more sorrow, death, mourning, crying or pain.

    That is the hope we need to proclaim. What hope is it for someone facing grief and suffering to say that we are striving to achieve the impossible in this world? (especially if it means neglecting our greater problem – the threat of eternal suffering)

    There is a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1: 3-5.

    Reminding them of their eternal hope. This is how Peter helped the perecuted early church.

  2. welshwilderness Says:

    I think the main difference between us Steffan (and this is reflected in the fact that I appreciate the contribution of men like Tony Campolo and you seem to think that it’s plain heresy) is that you, unknown to yourself, limit the power of the Cross and Christ’s Lordship over creation. To me the Atonement was certainly atoning for our personal sins so that we may go to heaven not hell when we die but to limit God’s work on the cross to only that is offensive I think. It was part of a greater plan to redeem the fallen World.

    The powers of evil in this World although not destroyed, are certainly broken. This World is fallen but still is subject to Christ. This explains a fundamental conviction of Christians in relation to earthly things. The supreme authority in this World not only the next is Jesus Christ.

    Jesus calls men to repent and to follow Him. So, the coming of the Kingdom is presented as a challenge to believe and then live it now. The way of life is now open to men, but they must enter upon it by personal decision and faith. They must be born again. Perhaps the video above did not discuss this but to be fair his sermon in Carmarthen did. It’s unfair to hit on him for not being fully enough in the video as it is a 3 minute video talking about a specific subject.

    The point Campolo makes is that the central theme of Jesus is his Kingdom and being born again is part of that. I would agree. The central theme is NOT being born again and having the Kingdom followed because that puts man and not God in the centre of things. We as men are not to be at centre – God and his Kingdom is the centre and we are invited to partake through faith. Does that make sense?

    Worship and politics, culture etc… are not the same thing; but they cannot be divorced from each other without denying that God is God and that this world is his by right of creation and redemption.

  3. Steffan Says:

    First of all, at no point have I called him a heretic. I’ve only heard this one video by him so my comment was only on this video. This is why I said in my comment that I’d be interested to hear more about his message in Carmarthen.

    Also, as I said in my comment, and I was actually preaching on this on Sunday, the gospel has to impact the way we live today, and treat others. I don’t in any way or form believe that the gospel is just a token to heaven.

    I agree 100% with everything you say about Christ’s Lordship.

    But your understanding of this doesn’t sound like the message presented by Tony Campolo in the video.

    It seems irresponsible to promise Isaiah 65 as a reality for this fallen world, when it is clearly speaking about our eternal hope. I also found it odd that in speaking about Jesus’ Central Teaching there is no sense of the eternal.

    If what he said in Carmarthen is what you said in your latest comment – great – it’d be good to hear more of that. In that case, maybe the video doesn’t represent him very well?

  4. Philip Says:

    When you have three minutes and your claim is to talk about ‘the central theme of the message of Christ’ I suppose it’s fair to believe that what you will get is the absolute essence of someone’s understanding of this. No time for waffle or digression. What you get here is how it really is and three minutes should be enough to say it so clearly that it shouldn’t need further explanation.

    So if I have understood him correctly, the central message of Jesus is that the Kingdom of God is at hand. The Kingdom of God is characterised by the relief of suffering, particularly focused among the ‘poor’. Any talk about spiritual blessing and in particular future blessing, is pietistic distraction in the same way any theological discussion on gender or sexuality is. So the big message of Jesus is live for today and work for the Kingdom of God here today. A Kingdom characterised by social care and the relief of suffering.

    If this is the case then Peter got it wrong when he preached at Pentecost and so did Paul in Corinth and Athens etc. Come to think of it Jesus was wrong in the great commission. This was pietistic distraction.

    If Peter had really understood Jesus, then he have worked to relieve the suffering slaves, women and children were enduring under the Romans in Jerusalem, instead of preaching repentance and faith in Christ. And if Paul had really grasped this then he would not have wasted his time in Philippi preaching the cross to Lydia – he should have just told this business woman to use her money to bring in the Kingdom of God by setting up relief projects for the local poor. And if Jesus had really understood what he was saying he would not have told all of his future followers to go and make disciples of all nations, instead he should have told them to make the poor wealthy.

    This is just old school liberalism that’s now being served up for the Starbucks generation. It’s the usual formula of the Kingdom’s social responsibility with no reference to getting into the Kingdom.

    “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Jn 3:3 “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit” Jn 3:5 make it clear that regeneration has to come first before we can have anything to do with the social consequences and responsibilities of the Kingdom of heaven. Far from putting man at the centre, Jesus makes it clear it puts God at the centre. The initiative and work is always his, Jn 3:16.

    If I heard Campolo correctly, as he explained what he believed the central theme of the message of Christ is, he sadly doesn’t believe this.

  5. welshwilderness Says:

    Thanks for you comments Philip. I’m note here to defend Campolo; all I can say is that, on balance, having heard him preach in person in Carmarthen a few weeks ago and a regular listener to his podcast that he does believe and proclaim the fullness of the gospel. Personal salvation and kingdom living. He is not just “old school liberal” all over again – that, frankly, is a lazy argument. Perhaps that video is not representative of his thoughts and I must admit that I deliberately chose it because of it’s over emphasis I guess so it would make the point. Your and Steffan’s points point out my mistake rightly.

    I won’t get into any detail here but I believe your arguments that peter and paul were not involved in so called “social action” as an argument that it’s not of central importance to the gospel is based on a narrow view of the Bible meta-narrative. Although I believe that the church should be pro-active in social involvement that doesn’t mean that every single Christian is called into that line of work – although I do belive every Christian should believe and support it. In that sense paul and peter were called to the offices of the apostles but I’m sure they would have encouraged other Christians at the time to whiteness in other fields of life and not tell them to stop feeding the poor and become full time apostles like themselves.

    Old testament prophets were strong on condemning social injustice and nowhere in new testament do we get told that all injustice is instantly delt with – rather, the power we have to tackle it is now at hand – the transforming power of the cross of Jesus Christ. To save souled to transform society for His glory.

  6. Philip Says:

    Thanks for the reply Rhys.

    I appreciate you are not an apologist for Campolo and I understand the troubles that can come from being regarded as one. My concern is that when the crunch comes (as with a three minute Youtube interview or as was the case with his recent thirty minute interview on the BBC programme ‘All things Considered’) what is actually said is works religion, with the emphasis on social work, with no real acknowledgement or reference to the work of the cross or the need for regeneration. I appreciate that he may say things differently in other contexts, like the one in Carmarthen but when he is pressed for a seminal statement what you get is the Kingdom of God is about social restoration. I think there are good reasons for accepting that what he says on these occasions is what he really believes – and it’s sad.

    I agree entirely that the fullness of the Gospel is about personal salvation and Kingdom living. The example of Acts 2 is overwhelmingly compelling with the effect of Peter’s preaching seen in the life of the new community it produced Acts 2:42-47 with it’s emphasis on community and social relief within that community. There is a similar situation in Acts 11:27-30 where a collection was made among the believers for famine relief.

    It seems to me that the principle is that social care is an essential part of the Christian life and one of the signs of it’s true orthodoxy but the emphasis is on it being done by those who have first come to faith in Christ and with the primary focus for the relief on those within the New Covenant community.

    The effect of this in the early Church must have been dynamite. Slave owners rubbing shoulders with slaves, Jews with Greeks, men with women – all the social barriers broken down Gal 3:28 as a result of faith in Christ but now engaged in caring and supporting each other. If we go back to Acts 2:45 we see the financial commitment to one another was massive but it is a result of their oneness in Christ through faith in Him. I think this is what Jesus was praying for in Jn 17:21-23 NB. v23 and appears happened in Acts 2:47a.

    Perhaps the painful questions for us are about whether this is happening among us in our Churches? Is the unbelieving world being challenged and impressed by out level and care and commitment to one another?

    So it seems to me the NT pattern of social responsibility is seen when faith in Christ is preached and the word ministered to believers in the power of the Spirit, produces people who are born again and begin to live transformed lives that, among many things, demonstrate acts of social charity that will take place, primarily, within the Church. The effect of this will be to stir up the world to the questions of who is Jesus and what has He done?

  7. Jawsy Says:

    Who cares if he’s a liberal or not. Labels are so yesterday. He loves Jesus. He shares Jesus’s love. He’s sound on the fundamentals. God Bless him I say.

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