Tony Campolo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Dr. Anthony "Tony" Campolo (1935-) is an American pastor, sociologist, author, and public speaking. He had been a major proponent for progressive thought and reform in the evangelical community. He has become a leader of the Red-Letter Christian movement, which aims to put emphasis on the teachings of Jesus. He is an ordained Baptistminister and evangelist.  Campolo founded the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education (EAPE), which works to help "at-risk" youth in the US and Canada, and has helped to establish several schools and universities. His best known work is a sermon entitled It's Friday, But Sunday's Coming!; recordings of which have been widely circulated in evangelical circles, and based on a sermon by a black minister at Mount Carmel Baptist Church. He is a frequent speaker at Christian conferences. He was also one of several spiritual advisers to PresidentBill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal where he met with president Clinton at the White House.

Although he has associated himself with the Democratic Party and several "left wing" groups and causes, he has publicly stated his opposition to abortion and to same-sex marriage. Many of his views are in keeping with Ron Sider's "completely pro-life" stance, standing in opposition to any human situation that leads to the termination of life. He is also opposed to warfare, poverty/starvation (as caused by extreme wealth inequalities), capital punishment, and euthanasia.

Campolo was the subject of an informal heresy hearing in 1985 brought about by several assertions in his 1983 book A Reasonable Faith, particularly his claim that, "Jesus is actually present in each other person". The book became a hot button issue, and the controversy caused Campus Crusade for Christ and Youth for Christ to block a planned speaking engagement by Campolo. The Christian Legal Society empowered a "reconciliation panel", led by noted theologian J. I. Packer, to examine the issue and resolve the controversy. The panel examined the book and questioned Campolo. The panel issued a statement saying that although it found Campolo's statements "methodologically naïve and verbally incautious", it did not find them to be heretical.

TV Show

Beginning in March 2011, Tony began hosting the TV show "Red Letter Christians" aired on JC-TV. This weekly half-hour talk show features interviews with leaders in the Red-Letter Christian movement.

Published works
  • The Success Fantasy (1980)
  • The Power Delusion (1983)
  • A Reasonable Faith (1983)
  • Ideas for Social Action: A Handbook on Mission and Service for Christian Young People (1984)
  • You Can Make a Difference (1984)
  • It's Friday, But Sunday's Comin' (1984)
  • Partly Right: Christianity Responds to Its Critics (1985)
  • Seven Deadly Sins (1987)
  • Who Switched the Price Tags (1987)
  • 20 Hot Potatoes Christians Are Afraid to Touch (1988)
  • Growing up in America : A Sociology of Youth Ministry (1989)
  • Things We Wish We Had Said: Reflections of a Father and His Grown Son (co-written with Bart Campolo) (1989)
  • Wake Up America!: Answering God's Radical Call While Living In the Real World (1991)
  • How to Be Pentecostal Without Speaking in Tongues (1991)
  • Sociology through the Eyes of Faith (1992)
  • How to Rescue the Earth Without Worshiping Nature: a Christian's Call to Save Creation (1992)
  • Everything You've Heard Is Wrong (1992)
  • The Kingdom of God Is a Party: God's Radical Plan for His Family' (1992)
  • Stand Up and Be Counted (1993)
  • Carpe Diem (1994)
  • Is Jesus a Republican or a Democrat?: And 14 Other Polarizing Issues (1995) {published as Was Jesus a Moderate? outside the US}
  • Can Mainline Denominations Make a Comeback? (1995)
  • Following Jesus Without Embarrassing God (1997)
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: Life Lessons from Unexpected Places And Unlikely People (2000)
  • Revolution and Renewal: How Churches Are Saving Our Cities (2000)
  • Which Jesus: Choosing Between Love and Power (2002).
  • The Survival Guide for Christians on Campus: How to be Students and Disciples at the Same Time (2002)
  • Adventures in Missing the Point: How the Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel (co-written with Brian D. McLaren) (2003)
  • Speaking My Mind: The Radical Evangelical Prophet Tackles the Tough Issues Christians Are Afraid To Face (2004)
  • The Church Enslaved: A Spirituality For Racial Reconciliation (Co-written with Michael Battle) (2005)
  • Letters to a Young Evangelical (2006)
  • The God of Intimacy and Action: Reconnecting Ancient Spiritual Practices, Evangelism and Justice (Co-written with Mary Albert Darling) (2007)
  • Red Letter Christians: A Citizen's Guide to Faith and Politics (2008)
  • Choose Love Not Power: How to Right the World's Wrongs from a Place of Weakness (2009) First published as The Power Delusion (1983)
  • Stories That Feed Your Soul (2010)
  • Connecting Like Jesus: Practices for Healing, Teaching and Preaching (2010) with Mary Albert Darling
  • Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said? (2012) with Shane Claiborne
  • Why I Left, Why I Stayed: Conversations on Christianity Between an Evangelical Father and His Humanist Son (2017) with Bart Campolo

Meet Evangelist Tony Campolo in THE PROGESSIVE on August 05, 2005, by John Oliver Mason:

An ordained Baptist minister, Tony Campolo overcame a heresy trial to preach social justice in the United States. Along with Jim Wallis of Sojourners and Ron Sider, the founder of Evangelicals for Social Action, Campolo is trying to counter the forces of the religious right from within a church-based tradition.

 "Tony Campolo is my favorite evangelist," says Wallis. "He blends revival with social justice. ..."

... he served as a spiritual adviser to Bill Clinton during the impeachment scandal.

Campolo is currently the associate pastor of the Mount Carmel Baptist Church in West Philadelphia. He's also an emeritus professor of sociology at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. On that campus, there is the Campolo School of Social Change, which consists of graduate programs "aimed at developing Christian professionals who will use their skills to transform urban communities around the world."

 That school is part of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, which Campolo founded. It serves inner city schools as well as AIDS hospices and Christian service programs in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Africa, and Canada.

 "Our goal is to help build the Kingdom of God by combining evangelism and social justice in the name of Jesus," the association says. ...  For him, the Kingdom of God is a place of justice.  When his students ask him to "spell that out," Campolo says he refers to Scriptures.

 "I go to the Bible, and the sixty-fifth chapter of Isaiah is the passage I often refer to, starting with the seventeenth verse, in which the Kingdom of God has certain characteristics," he says. "First of all, children do not die in infancy. I want to go to work around the world to do something about the infant mortality rate, the fact that 30,000 kids die of hunger every day. It says that old people shall live out their lives in perfect health. I want to see elderly people cared for, as they should be. It goes on to say that everyone should have decent housing to live in. I've been on the international board of Habitat for Humanity for years, for that reason. It says that everybody has a job, to work in the vineyard out there, and earn a living. I want to see people get a job."

 He also finds respect for the Earth in the Bible. "The last verse of the sixty-fifth chapter of Isaiah says, ‘Neither shall they hurt the earth anymore.’ Environmentalism is in there," he says.


Campolo opposes abortion and gay marriage, but believes that "social justice is the primary purpose of government." ... Campolo was an outspoken foe of U.S. policy in Central America in the 1980s, and in 1995 he joined Wallis's Call to Renewal, which fights poverty and racism and strives for peace.


Campolo is used to creating controversy. In 1985, he was invited to speak in Washington, D.C., at a large youth event sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ and Youth for Christ. Campolo was then disinvited after some Illinois pastors objected. They took issue with something Campolo had written in A Reasonable Faith: his view that Christ lives in every human being, whether Christian or not. "Jesus is actually present in each other person," he wrote in the book. Though Campolo believes the Bible is the literal word of God, the pastors charged him with "spiritual adultery."

A trial conducted by the Christian Legal Society cleared Campolo of heresy, though it did say his views were "methodologically naïve and verbally incautious."

Campolo is a believer in faith-based activism for social justice. ...  "Jesus came to the world not to conserve the system as it was, but to change the world into what it ought to be. That's where I am, and that's where I want to be."



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Red-Letter Christians constitute a non-denominational movement within Christianity. Proponents of the movement believe that Christianity, and especially evangelicalism, has been exploited by both right-wing and left-wingpolitical movements and become too partisan and politicized. As a response they endeavor to create an evangelical movement that focuses on the teachings of Jesus Christ, particularly in regard to social issues. The two most prominent figures associated with the movement are Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo.  Brian McLaren is a founding member of RLC.  Jim Wallis has also enlisted the help of people like Richard Rohr.

"Red-Letter" refers to New Testament verses printed in red letters to indicate the actual words that Jesus spoke without the use of quotations (see Red letter edition). While many Christians throughout church history have defined themselves as emphasizing the teachings of Jesus, a modern movement was initiated by Wallis and Campolo, who felt the religious right spend too much time on two issues: abortion and homosexuality. They believe Christians should be promoting biblical values such as peace, building strong families, the elimination of poverty, and other important social justice issues. They believe that these are the issues that Jesus spoke of directly, and therefore these issues should be political priorities. Other issues such as the question of homosexual rights and abortion are viewed as important but over-emphasized by both liberals and conservatives.

On the reason for creating Red-Letter Christians, Tony Campolo said, "The purpose of this gathering was not to create a religious left movement to challenge the religious right, but to jump-start a religious movement that will transcend partisan politics." Campolo has released a book to help explain this, called Red Letter Christians, A Citizen's Guide to Faith and Politics (Regal Books, February 2008).

Today the two most prominent figures associated with the movement are Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo.The Red Letter movement was started by Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners magazine and like social gospel activist group based in Washington D.C.  Jim Wallis has enlisted the help of people like Richard Rohr, a well-known Catholic writer; Brian McLaren, an Emergent Church leader; and Tony Campolo. 

 Excepts from: Mystical Encounters for Christians, by Tony Campolo:

  • Subtitile: When I sensed that believing in Jesus wasn't enough and yearned for more, I turned to older forms of prayer.
  • Today, some of the most spiritual people I know claim to be without religion.
  • Believing the gospel was never a problem for me, but during times of reflection I sensed that believing in Jesus and living out His teachings just wasn't enough. There was a yearning for something more, and I found that I was increasingly spiritually gratified as I adopted older ways of praying--ways that have largely been ignored by those of us in the Protestant tradition. Counter-Reformation saints like Ignatius of Loyola have become important sources of help as I have begun to learn from them modes of contemplative prayer. I practice what is known as "centering prayer," in which a sacred word is repeated as a way to be in God's presence.
  • I've got to push everything out of mind save the name of Jesus. I say His name over and over again, for as long as fifteen minutes, until I find my soul suspended in what the ancient Celtic Christians called a "thin place"--a state where the boundary between heaven and earth, divine and human, dissolves. You could say that I use the name of Jesus as my koan.
  • Once I've entered "the thin place" with its profound stillness, I "wait patiently for the Lord" (Psalm 40:1) to invade me. In quietude, I surrender to an invasion of the Holy Spirit.
  • When one experiences compassionate love for others, it is evidence that "the spirits are of God" (I John 4:1).

I think they had something in common with Ignatius--and with an age-old Christian contemplative tradition that finds perfect expression in centering prayer.

Campolo, 78, plans to retire with the closure of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, but he will continue to write and speak, with nearly 200 engagements scheduled for 2014. ...  Campolo said he expects to partner more with Shane Claiborne, a Campolo acolyte at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pa., who is an activist advocating for nonviolence, serving the poor and living simply.

  • Campolo in Speaking My Mind, p. 149-150: Beyond these models of reconciliation, a theology of mysticism provides som hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam.  Both religions have within their histories examples of ecstatic union with God, which seem at odds with their own spiritual traditions but have much in common with each other.  I do not know what to make of the Muslim mystics, especially thos who have come to be known as the Sufis.  What do they experience in their mystical experiences?  Could they have encountered the same God we do in our Christian mysticism?
  • Campolo in Letters to a Young Evangelical, p. 26: In my case intimacy with Christ has developed gradually over the years, primarily through what Catholic mystics call "centering prayer."  Each morning, as soon as I wake up, I take time - sometimes as much as a half hour - to center myself on Jesus.  I say his name over and over again to drive back the 101 things that begin to clutter up my mind the minute I open my eyes. Jesus is my mantra, as some would say.

The constant repetition of his name clears my head of everything but the awareness of his presence.  By driving back all other concerns, I am able to create what the ancient Celtic Christians called "the thin place".  The thin place is that spiritual condition wherein the separation between the self and God becomes so thin that God is able to break through and envelop the soul.

  • Campolo in Letters to a Young Evangelical, p. 30: I learned about this way of having a born-again experience from reading the Catholic mystics, especially The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola. ... Like most Catholic mystics, he developed an intense desire to experience a "oneness" with God.
  • Campolo in Letters to a Young Evangelical, p. 31: After the Reformation, we Protestants left behind much that was troubling about Roman Catholicism of the fifteenth century. I am convinced that we left too much behind. The methods of praying employed bly the likes of Ignatius have become precious to me. With the help of some Catholic saints, my prayer life has deepened.
  • Brian D. McLaren and Tony Campolo in Adventures in Missing the Point, p. 43: God’s kingdom is a new society that Jesus wants to create in this world—within human history, not after the Second Coming or a future apocalypse or anything else. But right now.
  • Brian D. McLaren and Tony Campolo in Adventures in Missing the Point, p. 59: To the contrary, the history of the world is infused with the presence of God, who is guiding the world toward becoming the kind of world God willed it to be when it was created. Human history is going somewhere wonderful.
  • Tony Campolo in Adventures in Missing the Point, p. 59-60, on Babylon in Revelation 17: "Babylon refers to the dominant culture in which Christians find themselves living and each age and each nation has its own Babylon."  Opposing Babylon is Jerusalem, “the social system that the whole of history points toward.”
  • Tony Campolo in Adventures in Missing the Point, p. 64, on Second Coming: “ultimate hope…the fulfillment of all our dreams…the realization of every utopian expectation. ... To those who work for peace, the Second Coming is the assurance that their labors are not in vain, and that one day peace will reign. To those who strive to eliminate poverty, the Second Coming means the day is coming when the hungry will be fed, the naked clothed, and the homeless housed."
  • Tony Campolo in 08/2004: Going to heaven is like going to Philadelphia... There are many ways...It doesn't make any difference how we go there. We all end up in the same place.
  • Tony Campolo in MSNBC 2008 interview: I learn about Jesus from other religions. They speak to me about Christ, as well.
  • Tony Campolo in Adventures in Missing the Point, p. 51: I also believe that we should not delude ourselves into thinking that whatever we can build of God’s kingdom now can come to fullness without Christ's Return.
  • Tony Compolo in Reflections on Youth Ministry in a Global Context, National Council of Churches, "Poverty March 2002", March 2002: The gospel is not about... pie-in-the-sky when they die.... It is imperative that the up and coming generation recognize that the biblical Jesus was committed to the realization of a new social order in this world.... Becoming a Christian, therefore, is a call to social action.
  • Tony Compolo in a sermon 14th January 1990: The kingdom of God is a glorious and gigantic party!
  • Tony Campolo in A Reasonable Faith: Responding to Secularism, p. 192: I do not mean that others represent Jesus for us. I mean that Jesus actually is present in each other person.
  • Tony Campolo endorsed Leonard Sweet's The Three Hardest Words in the World to Get Right (2006).
  • Tony Campolo endorsed the contemplative book The Papa Prayer (2006) by Larry Crabb together with Bob Buford, Brian McLaren, Brennan Manning, John Ortberg and Dallas Willard.
  • Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said? (2012) with Shane Claiborne is endorsed by Bono, Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Eugene H. Peterson, Phyllis Tickle, Richard Rohr, John Ortberg, Rob Bell, Jim Wallis and Brian McLaren.
  • Tony Campolo back cover endorsed The Life with God (A Renovare Resource) (2009)
  • Red Letter Christians: A Citizen's Guide to Faith and Politics (2008) is front cover endorsed by Bill Clinton.  It is also endorsed by Shane Claiborne, Tony Jones and Brian McLaren.
  • There is special thanks to Shane Claiborne and Brian McLaren in the Acknowledgements chapter of  Connecting Like Jesus (2010).
  • Twice co-writer, spiritual director and teacher, Mary Albert Darling, has been trained in spiritual direction, completing a two-year program through the Manresa Jesuit House in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and has studied spiritual formation under Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. has chapters about Lectio Divina, centering prayer and Prayer of Examen from Ignatius Loyola.
  • Why I Left, Why I Stayed: Conversations on Christianity Between an Evangelical Father and His Humanist Son (2017) is back cover endorsed by Lynne Hybels.
  • February 1-2 2008 Tony Campolo was the featured speaker for the Black History Weekend at Walla Walla University. Here is a transcript of the Friday evening presentation: “The Pentecostal thing never worked for me. But I do know what it’s like to be surrendered to the Holy Spirit. I wake up in the morning, before I have to I wake up, and I center down on Jesus. I say his name over and over again, because there’s something about that name. It drives back the animals - those hundred and one things that come in to capture my consciousness the minute I wake up - and creates this sacred space, this thin place as the Celtic Christians called it. And in the stillness and the quiet of the morning I wait, I wait. I don’t ask God for anything, I just wait, for the spirit to flow in, to flow into my life. You see, the Bible says they who wait upon the Lord – when was the last time you waited twenty minutes or half hour for the spirit of God to take possession of you? When was the last time you became still, so that the spirit of God, and I don’t mean quiet, there’s a difference between still and quiet, isn’t there? You can be in a noisy room and be still. In the stillness and quietude I wait, wait for the spirit. I wait for the spirit to come and invade me, to flow into me, to explode within me, and the Bible says it shall be in you like a fountain of living water flowing up, in, and through you and out into the world….and in the stillness of the morning I surrender and wait, and wait, for the spirit to come in. You say does it happen every time? Most mornings not, but often enough the spirit comes and I come alive in Christ Jesus….we need the miracle….we won’t overcome our racism until we wait upon the Lord, unless we surrender and say, Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me, break me, mold me, make me, for if Christ is in you and you are in Christ you become a new creation.”

The Dean of the School of Theology said in his letter: “This is just a note to let you know that Campolo spoke 4 times while here on campus, and he was well-received.  On the Friday night, he did mention how he begins his day by meditating, but did not elaborate on his techniques.” 

Regarding Campolo’s devotional practices, the President of Walla Walla University stated the following in a letter to a church member: “His brief statement on Friday evening about his own devotional practices seemed appropriate to me.  Some of the arguments against him on the idea of "centering prayer" seem to me a little strained and to make logical leaps and connections that appear unjustified.”

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