A Response to Tony Campolo

On June 8, 2015 Tony Campolo released a statement related to those who identify as “gay Christian couples.” Here is the thrust of his statement:

It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.

Tony Campolo: For the Record

Early in my adult life, Campolo was an influential figure. I appreciate much of what he has to say to the Christian community. However, his new thesis is very disappointing. It is not surprising. In fact, I thought he was already at this point. Still it is disappointing.

In supporting his new thesis, Campolo demonstrates a faulty view of the gospel. We certainly can debate the conclusion he has reached, but I would hope that Campolo would realize his conclusion is built on a sandy presupposition instead of the bedrock truth of the gospel.

Here is the statement in which Campolo reveals his grasp of the gospel:

Gay Christian couples…have been wrongly led to believe that they are mistakes or just not good enough for God, simply because they are not straight.

Note that Campolo is basing his new statement on a belief. Here he expresses it as a wrong belief. What is that wrong belief? It’s a two-fold wrong belief.

First, he asserts that it is wrong to believe that not being straight makes people a mistake. This should be understood to be a mistake in God’s eyes and/or in the eyes of the church.

Campolo errs by not applying the biblical teaching of total depravity to those who identify as gay or straight. Due to the fall, all of us are born with a sinful nature. It’s not that God accepts me because I am without sin. The wonder of the gospel is that God accepts me even though I am sinful. I may be straight, but I was born and act like I am crooked.

Second, Campolo faults the church for having a belief that gay folks are not good enough for God. Guess what? None of us are. God did not accept me because I am good enough. He accepted me because Jesus was good enough. He credits Jesus’ righteousness to my account. I can strive to be good enough for God, but that striving is in vain.

These two truths are at the heart of what the gospel is all about. Campolo claims early in the statement,

I have done my best to preach the Gospel.

One has to ask what gospel is he preaching. As expressed here, it is a deficient gospel as it relates to the condition of sinful man and the basis for our acceptance by God.

Campolo also references the hymn, “Just As I Am” to support his new view. Look at the second verse of that hymn.

Just as I am, and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot,
to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

The hymn writer declares that we do not get rid of our blots/spots to be acceptable to God. But he also asserts that the blood of Jesus cleanses those spots. So, just as I am does not mean we who are without sin come to a savior and we never change. After all they are blots/spots. Those aren’t supposed to be on us.

I write this especially to those who read Campolo’s words and think that they sound Christ like. Under careful scrutiny, his view diminishes the need for Christ. Good people who are not depraved need no savior. Sinful men need a savior. They also need a Lord who will convert them and change them.