Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Speaking in Opposites

Tony Campolo is that rarest of animals, a politically liberal evangelical which is another way of saying he is someone who has done what his politically conservative brethren have failed to do, integrate his faith in God with pragmatic action here on earth. Here is a key insight form Campolo’s “Speaking My Mind” into the failure of the religious right to integrate their faith with their politics:

While on Harvard’s campus, I asked one o the professors why the folks there were so negative toward evangelicals. I said, “The Jews respect the Muslims, the Muslims respect the Jews, and everybody respects the dalai Lama. But there are sneers of condescension if someone says, “I’m an evangelical Christian’!”

The professor answered, “ Imagine yourself at lunch. Seated at the table with you is the leader of the gay-lesbian task force, an ardent feminist, and an angry neo-Marxist African America. You propose playing a game in which each of the them is to respond to a word with the first word that comes into their minds. you say, “evangelical.’ how do you think each will respond?”

I said, “Given those three people, I suppose I would hear them say things like ‘bigot,’ ‘homophobe,’ ‘male chauvinist,’ and ‘reactionary.’

The professor then asked, “Now, to these same three, you say the name ‘Jesus.’ What reactions will you get to that?”

I paused a moment then said softly, “Caring, understanding, forgiving, kind, empathetic...”

“Does it bother you, Tony,” he asked, “that the name of Jesus elicits a completely opposite reaction from the name ‘evangelical’?”

That does bother me. However, when I explained how bothered I was to a fellow evangelical, he said, “I really don’t care what people like that think about us!”

Of course, that’s the point . While evangelical Christians should never compromise what they believe in order to gain the approval of the secular community, we should care if people out there see little, or nothing of Jesus in us.


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