Campolo Controversy : 2006-11-21A tip of the hat to Justin Taylor at Between Two Worlds for his mention of this subject.
I didn't really think Bart Campolo--son of Tony--was an orthodox evangelical, but I was a little stunned by his article, The Limits of God's Grace
, posted by Youth Specialities (but later removed from their site).
Campolo totally embraces open theism and rips orthodox--especially Reformed--theology, starting the article by espousing universalism:
I know all too well that to proclaim a God compassionate enough to seek the rescue of every one of his children--and powerful enough to pull it off--is a dangerous scandal to such folks. In a very real way, they don't even hope for universal salvation. After all, without the fear of their unsaved loved ones' eternal damnation, how would they motivate one another for outreach and missionary service?
Apparently he doesn't see obedience to Christ as much of a motivator, and as for the Biblical teaching--including the words of Jesus--about hell and the lack of universal salvation, well the Bible's teaching just doesn't matter.
The idea that we are sinners deserving judgement gets completely ignored. However, God has a wonderful plan for everyone's life:
I still do my best to convince young people to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and
Savior, but not because I'm afraid God will damn them to Hell if they don't. On the
contrary, I want the kids I love to follow Jesus because I genuinely believe following Jesus is the best kind of life.
Of course, if someone believes that raping and murdering Campolo's wife is the best kind of life, they'll still go to heaven without any need to repent, because God loves like that.
Despite once calling God a "cruel bastard," Campolo graciously gives reasons why he doesn't hate God:
I don't hate God because I don't believe God is fully in control of this world yet
That's comforting. The world is out of control, so you don't have to hate God! If He was really in control, we'd be justified in hating Him.
I don't hate God because I believe God is always doing the best God can within the limits of human freedom, which even God cannot escape.
Gotta love that attitude--hey, take it easy on God; He's doing the best He can! Man's freedom is superior to God's sovereignty (never mind what the Bible says).
I don't hate God because, although I suppose God knows everything that can be known at any given point in time, I don't suppose God knows or controls everything that is going to happen.
Classic open theism--God doesn't know what's going to happen in the future. He gets surprised, disappointed and frustrated just like us. How reassuring. At least we don't have to hate Him.
I'm sure Bart is a personable guy, gracious and humorous, engaging and committed. We both support Compassion, International, after all. However, doesn't it take just a little arrogance to make a list of reasons why you don't hate God when many of those reasons conflict with Scripture? Here's the scary part:
Some might say I would be wise to swallow my misgivings about such stuff, remain orthodox, and thereby secure my place with God in eternity. But that is precisely my point: If those things are true, then God might as well send me to Hell. For better or worse, I simply am not interested in any God but a completely good, entirely loving, and perfectly forgiving One who is powerful enough to utterly triumph over evil. Such a God may not exist, but I
will die seeking such a God, and I will pledge my allegiance to no other possibility because, quite frankly, anything less is not worthy of my worship.
Holiness and justice, anyone? To simplify, Campolo is saying that if universalism is not true, if Campolo's definition of goodness and love isn't correct, God can send him to hell. I wouldn't want to be giving an account for that some day. It's truly sad to see the direction the emerging "neo-evangelicals" are heading.
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