Unequally Yoked Together

Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?

We continue our look at the “Radical Emergent Evangelical Prophet” Tony Campolo who was slated to be a speaker at NPC 2006. Campolo provides us with a good chance to set the record straight about our so-called “attacks” on the Emerging Church movement. One needs to keep in mind here that the EC arrived within the past decade as a schism in the Evangelical Protestant community denying the classic historic orthodox Christian doctrine recovered when Church Reformers literally gave their lives for Christ to rescue His Church from the apostate Roman Catholic Church at least some 500 years ago. Therefore for someone like me to counter relentless criticism from the Emerging Church movement regarding correct Christian doctrine is actually to defend this position from their attacks.

As far as Tony Campolo himself, among his many books are the recent Adventures In Missing The Point with Brian McLaren and 2004’s Speaking My Mind: The Radical Evangelical Prophet Tackles the Tough Issues Christians Are Afraid to Face. The forum we’re using to evaluate Emergent Evangelical Prophet Tony Campolo is an interview he did with one of his disciples by the name of Shane Claiborne entitled “On Evangelicals And Interfaith Cooperation,” which originally appeared in Cross Currents. We pick it up as Claiborne, who will also be a presenter at NPC 2006 himself tells the prophet that, “I feel like I have more in common with folks of other religions than I do with some other evangelicals.” We can easily see why this would be true as they would be denying the same historic doctrine of the Christian faith that Claiborne himself does.

Then Claiborne explains to Campolo that he has “often found that while we may not agree theologically, we have a similar vision for how God calls us to live.” Claiborne asks the Emergent prophet if Christians can violate the Biblical injunction of 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 against uniting ourselves with unbelievers in spiritual activities which then gives the world the impression all religions are really one. He poses the question: “Can we work together in service and action, even though we disagree theologically?” And Campolo says:

I used to do this television show “Hashing It Out” with Steve Brown. One day a friend in his seminary said, “How can you be friends with people like the Campolos, especially Peggy, when you know what she believes about homosexuality?” Steve’s answer was, “Peggy is wrong in the head but right in the heart. You on the other hand are right in the head and wrong in the heart. And if I have to make a choice I would much rather prefer someone who is right in the heart and wrong in the head.”

That’s a powerful statement but I think that’s where most of us would go. Now Muslims do not believe that Jesus died on the cross. So we have a difference there. We kid ourselves if we pretend that we all believe the same thing. What we have to do is say that we believe different things. But there is so much goodness in the Islamic community, it cannot be ignored. Those who write off Islamic people are making a serious mistake. And vice-versa, Islamic people who write off Christians are making a serious mistake. But I would have to say they are less inclined to do that than we are to write them off.

The Things Of Men

“You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures.”

The above answer by Campolo is really what is wrong with so much in the Emerging Church movement in microcosm; here is an example of thinking with human emotion–the ideas of men. It’s really just the same as Peter in Matthew 16:23, where he told the Lord He wasn’t to be crucified. You see God’s plan for His Christ to die for the sins of the world on the Cross didn’t make sense to Peter and finally Jesus had to say to him – “you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” The Emergent Church is actually a rebirth of having in mind the things of men and then attempting to live the impossible standards (on a human level) required by the faith of Jesus Christ according to our own fallen ideals.

This is why we are infinitely better off remembering that as little children we are much safer just doing what God already told us to do in His written Word–the Bible. We would all be much better off, and have far more impact in this world for Christ if we would just take care of the “what” God says, and then leave the “why” He said it to Him. And Campolo, our Emergent Evangelical prophet, is a classic example of fallen human reasoning blinding him to the truth of what Islam actually teaches about Jesus Christ. Not only that but his apparent zeal to “save” this world religion–which does not worship the God of the Bible by a different name–causes Campolo to actually defend it over the Christian faith he professes to believe in.

Space doesn’t allow for a critique of the religion of Islam here so I refer the interested reader to my earlier work Keeping You Apprised of: Islam. Right now however, let me just say that far more than “a difference there,” as the Emergent prophet says, the true Christian will be appalled and angered that in Islam our Lord is but another in a line of prophets of the “god” Allah. In the world religion of Islam Jesus is not even considered as important as the prophet Muhammad, the man who founded this community of faith. If the Emergent Church leaders are going to criticize the whole of the historic Christian community for the inexcusable excesses of the Church of Rome during the Inquisitions, then they must also be willing to equally place blame on Islam for the incredible atrocities which have been committed by its own radical fringe.

The other issue that needs to be addressed in the above rant from Emergent prophet Campolo is the following confused reasoning: “What we have to do is say that we believe different things. But there is so much goodness in the Islamic community, it cannot be ignored.” Actually the lack of discernment here is rather shocking coming from an alleged Evangelical Christian prophet of God. “We believe different things”? I should say so; the Bible teaches Jesus Christ is God Himself in human flesh and the only Savior of hopelessly lost mankind. In stark contrast the Muslim believes that Jesus was simply a human man with less authority to speak for God than Muhammad, and what is more Islam teaches that Christ was not even crucified. I’d hardly relegate this to simply believing “different things.”

Back To The “Gospel Of Goodness”

And the second part of the Emergent prophet’s statement is simply ridiculous coming from someone claiming to be a Christian: “there is so much basic goodness in the Islamic community, it cannot be ignored.” Then “brother” Campolo are you saying here that we shouldn’t bother preaching the Gospel to them because of their “basic goodness”? No doubt there was also much basic goodness in the Jewish community of Christ’s day (just as there is today) and yet Jesus said – “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (see–John 3:3-7). There is also “so much basic goodness” in the Watchtower and Mormon communities as well that “it cannot be ignored,” so this is simply an empty argument from Campolo based on his obvious love for Islamic people.

This in itself is not the problem, however I suggest it would be a good idea for Campolo to discontinue his transcendental meditation and skull sessions with interspiritualists and instead to replace that time with proper meditation and reflection upon what God’s Word actually says. But this is a huge problem which is also symptomatic of a society that has acquiesced to the aggressive feminist movement in our nation resulting in a more emasculated form of Christianity. This is exactly why God did not want women in teaching positions within the Church without very careful supervision underneath male pastors. “Hot button” issues such as homosexuality and the doctrine of Hell must not be handled by how we personally feel about them, but rather these issues have to be approached without emotion by appealing to the text of Holy Scripture itself.

Next Campolo’s disciple Claiborne will dutifully lead our Emergent prophet into what’s fast become a classic position in the Emerging Church movement though their humanistic misunderstanding of God’s love. As Claiborne recalls his own admirable work with Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying he talks of a young man he knew from the Home; the young man said was not a Christian, but unlike those nasty “evangelical Christians,” he showed true love to people while serving there. Can you see the attack on the historic faith once again; and then just before quoting Doris Day of all people Claiborne asks Campolo: “Could he be caring for Christ without knowing it?” The Emergent prophet takes his cue to jump right up on his soapbox for the predictable reply:

When it comes to what is ultimately important, the Muslim community’s sense of commitment to the poor is exactly in tune with where Jesus is in the 25th chapter of Matthew. That is the description of judgment day. And if that is the description of judgment day what can I say to an Islamic brother who has fed the hungry, and clothed the naked? You say, “But he hasn’t a personal relationship with Christ.” I would argue with that.

And I would say from a Christian perspective, in as much as you did it to the least of these you did it unto Christ. You did have a personal relationship with Christ, you just didn’t know it. And Jesus himself says: “On that day there will be many people who will say, when did we have this wonderful relationship with you, we don’t even know who you are. . . ” “Well, you didn’t know it was me, but when you did it to the least of these it was doing it to me.”

Brothers Without Christ

The Emergent prophet makes a huge generalization as he says, “the Muslim community’s sense of commitment to the poor is exactly in tune…” O please. Has Campolo personally observed every country adhering to the Islamic faith, or for that matter, has he observed the entire Evangelical Christian community’s commitment to the poor? Of course not, he has a bias and the Emergent prophet is not bashful about sharing his opinion; but an opinion–and not particularly well informed–is all it is. This is clearly a play to emotion that has no basis in fact. The truth is there are committed men and women of both faiths, and there are also spiritual “knuckleheads” within both faiths. The issue is: What does God say about who is even in the faith to begin with? (e.g. 2 Corinthians 13:5)

But here we see one of the major problems with letting the world think that this non-Christian position espoused by Campolo and the Emergent Church is that of the true Church of Jesus Christ. The Emergent prophet refers to “an Islamic brother,” and then says he would take issue with the proper understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that unless this hypothetical believer of Islam has “a personal relationship with Christ” what he has done ends up being nice for his fellow man but useless toward his own salvation from an eternity in Hell. This is where the issue of “Christian” mysticism rears its ugly head. Invariably those like Campolo who practice transcendental meditation end up with the eternally mistaken idea that all religions have pieces of the Sacred. You’ll see more of this in our final installment of Emergent Evangelical Prophet Tony Campolo.

As we prepare to close I draw your attention back to the prophet’s gross Emergent misunderstanding of the Christian witness when he says: “I would say from a Christian perspective, in as much as you did it to the least of these you did it unto Christ. You did have a personal relationship with Christ, you just didn’t know it.” This goes back to thinking as men think when Campolo tells us that “from a Christian perspective” to be involved in social activity is necessarily to “have a personal relationship with Christ.” I’ve said before that there are many wonderful things done in this world by people who have no belief in God at all, but certainly we aren’t supposed to believe they also have a personal relationship with Christ but they “just didn’t know it.”

This shows the inherent weakness in the soteriology at the heart of the Emergent Church movement as their wrong understanding of “the kingdom of God” essentially negates the need for the regeneration of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life for them to even enter it. Campolo’s faulty teaching concerning “The Sheep and the Goats” in Matthew 25 leaves him open to teaching that one’s good works would admit him into the kingdom of God even if he is without Christ. But as Dr. D.A. Carson points out in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: “The reason for admission to the kingdom in this parable is more evidential than causative.” (Matthew, CD Rom) In other words, consistent with what the historic orthodox Christian Church has always taught, because we have been saved through faith in Christ we do works for Him and one day we will be surprised at the extent of it.

Claiborne follows up on Campolo’s misunderstanding as he tells us that the “Scriptures are filled with God choosing the most unlikely places to dwell.” After a few examples that he feels demonstrate his position Claiborne asks Campolo: “How do we leave room for the surprises that could await us in the afterlife, without compromising our beliefs?” The Emergent prophet concludes our convoluted conversation here with his conflicting Christianity:

I don’t think you have to compromise as a Christian the belief that Jesus is the only Savior but what I do think we have to say is that the grace of God extends way beyond the limitations of my religious group. And I think that the Muslims have to say, as they do say, that the grace of Allah extends beyond the Islamic community. The community is supposed to be faithful to its beliefs and convictions or else it has no core. On the other hand it has got to be more loving towards those who are outside.

Our Muslim brothers and sisters can say Islam is the only true faith but we are not convinced that only Muslims enjoy salvation. I contend that there is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ, but I am not convinced that the grace of God does not go further than the Christian community.

Campolo’s answer no doubt plays well to his constituency, which is primarily skeptical young men, but to the rest of us it rings out in discord as confused issues. The Christian position has never been that God’s grace is solely for the “Christian community.” You see if our Creator had not extended grace to mankind in the first place then there wouldn’t have been a Christian faith. We’d all be doomed to an eternity in Hell, which for whatever it might be exactly is clearly an existence outside of the presence of God. As far as being “more loving toward those who are outside,” how much more loving could someone like myself be who has dedicated his walk with Christ to faithfully studying other religions so as to be in a better position to share the Gospel with them?

And this is the heart of the matter with people like Emergent Evangelical Prophet Tony Campolo, they don’t get around to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to these interfaith communities they powwow with. The immediate problem we can see here is that it is much easier to fall down the hill than it is to climb the mountain. By this I mean whenever I have observed believers in Christ who have gotten themselves entangled with unbelievers, the sad outcome is virtually the same. The believer begins to compromise the very difficult demands of the true Christian faith and before you know it has been conformed to the standards of the unbeliever. This is actually quite clearly addressed in Scripture when God the Holy Spirit tells us:

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

We’ll return to our look at Emergent Evangelical Prophet Tny Campolo in Part Three, but for now, by violating clear Biblical standards, adopting pagan practices like transcendental meditation, and reimagining “Christian” mystic spiritual disciplines culled from long apostate Rome, what has ended up happening is that the Emerging Church movement has rapidly departed from the historic orthodox Christian faith. And sadly, for those with eyes to see, this will become even more evident as we continue our look into these crucial issues surrounding the transformation of the Emergent Church.

Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. (1 John 2:18-19)

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