Letter: "Tony Campolo is speaking at my church"

by | Jan 17, 2013 | Best of! | 2 comments

Tony Campolo: Author and speaker on political ...

Tony Campolo

When it comes to teachers and preachers with whom we have major doctrinal differences, where should churches draw the line when inviting them in as speakers to the pulpit?  A listener in Pennsylvania asks that very question, and we’ve shared it here with his permission:

I am 35-years-old and live about 40 miles west of Philadelphia.  Tony Campolo is speaking at my church in the near future (scheduled for Jan 26th).  When my wife and I found this out we were rather concerned due to his theological positions, social comments, and the fact that my wife briefly attended Eastern University and was rather disturbed when she saw him speak.
I contacted the pastor at my church who organized the speaking engagement yesterday via email and asked why he was speaking, and kindly expressed my concerns. I received a response late last night where my pastor stated Tony’s speaking does not mean the church endorses all of his positions, that we should not just bring in people we agree with on every point, and that Tony is solidly evangelical, the “evangelical Mother Theresa in our land, ” for serving those in need in the Philadelphia area.
Although I appreciate my pastor’s response, Campolo’s speaking does not sit well with my wife and we are leaning toward not attending.
Here are a few questions for you that are currently on my mind:
  1. My pastor’s comments about listening to speakers we do not agree with gives me concern based on Jesus warning the disciples about the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 16:5-6.  I understand we all sin and are going to be wrong in some areas. However, am I interpreting this passage correctly that we should beware of the yeast of  people like Tony Campolo who promote theology and social change that may not necessarily agree with the Bible?
  2. Where should churches draw the line when inviting outside speakers they disagree with and when should we the congregation bring our concerns to the attention of the leadership?
  3. Finally, do you recommend my wife and I put aside our concerns and attend?  I know you did something similar when visiting the mosque and are contemplating the same with Brian McLaren’s engagement.

Thank you for reading this and I pray Stand Up for the Truth will continue to be faithful to God’s Word and tackle the tough issues that Christians face day-to-day.