Liberal Preachers in Our Pulpits

I don’t know if you realize it or not, but there are a lot of liberal preachers in our pulpits across this country.

They talk about ‘social justice’ and ‘gay rights’ as Biblical rights and responsibilities.  From women pastors to beer parties after church, there is an every growing change in the fabric of the church.

I tend to avoid pastors whose ideology differs so widely from my own.  I’m not opposed to the exchange of ideas and the opportunity for debate.  I just prefer to listen to my pastor teach the word without having to ‘filter’ out any social or political mumbo jumbo that I disagree with.

Face to Face with a Liberal

Our church invited Tony Campolo to speak on Friend Day, 2011.  I only knew of Campolo because I was familiar with the sermon, “It’s Friday, But Sundays Coming.”  I emphasis familiar, because that is all I knew.

When it was announced that Dr Campolo would be preaching at our church . . .from the pulpit . . . on Sunday morning . . . the news began to travel across the social network.  Really?  At our church?  The conservative, right leaning, Southern Baptist church was going to have a bleeding heart liberal stand in our pulpit and preach the sermon.  Really?!?

Sure enough on Sunday morning, there he was.  The Eastern University professor who was the ‘spiritual adviser’ to President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky “issue” was in my church about to take the platform.

Hmmmmmm.

And Them He Preached!

I had decided to be open minded and listen and engage.  After all, isn’t that the point of developing a Biblical worldview?  I need to be able to listen and filter according to the Scriptures.

I tuned my filter and prepared to listen and take notes on the issues that I would need to address in my Sunday School class.  After all, I might need to set some things straight.

He didn’t open the Bible like one would expect.  As a matter of fact he didn’t have a Bible at the pulpit.  He took out his note cards and began to deliver the message.

Did I Hear that Right?

His message was really simple.  Tony Campolo said that there is a separation or divide in the life of the modern believer.

There are some who have a deep understanding of Theology and really have the knowledge and understanding of what it is to be a Christian.  The problem is that they do not have much application, so that knowledge has little value.

There are some who are steadfast and active doing what they believe to be the work of the Lord.  They are working hard and diligently, but they do not have an understanding of basic Bible doctrines.  And as a result, they are often led astray or misguided.

The point of the Christian faith is to have an understanding of Theology that leads to a working of that faith in deed.  It is the knowledge of our faith that causes us to be doers of our faith.

The Challenge

I remember listening and pausing his sermon in my head.  I wanted to linger on his point.  I wanted to digest this a bit more.

I know that I have a tendency to lean heavily on Theology and Doctrine.  If a quiz on the Basic Bible Doctrines was the standard or measure of my faith, I believe I would do well.  The problem is that the standard or measure of my faith is based on my actions or behavior.

James puts is so clearly when he says that faith, apart from works is dead.  If we say we are a believer and have all knowledge and understand all mysteries, and do not put that faith into practice in a tangible, real way, then our faith is useless, a sounding gong or tinkling cymbal.

Our belief in Christ is more than a series of tenets or precepts.  It is an expression of Christ dwelling within us.  We are to live a life that demonstrates the work of the Savior and not just the precepts of the Scriptures.

8 thoughts on “Liberal Preachers in Our Pulpits

  1. Alan,
    I am a little confused. Are you justifying CBC having a liberal preacher in our pulpit?
    I agree with your statement -“It is the knowledge of our faith that causes us to be doers of our faith.” But, when I don’t do it in love, the result is like a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal”. I believe our purpose here is to worship God and serve others.
    What I do have a problem with is Tony Campolo. I chose not to listen to his sermon on Sunday. My fear, wolf in sheeps clothing. If you research Tony Compolo and his complete belief system, it is almost impossible to justify the bleeding heart liberal delivering his message in a my conservative fellowship.
    I gave this example to my children: 2 pieces of white bread with do-do (not my exact words) in the middle. We must be careful not to see only what was good in the sermon but to look at the complete picture and understand where this speaker is taking us.
    From what I have researched, it appears that Mr. Campolo is on a slippery slide to being part of the Emerging Church. Some points i found on the website, http://carm.org/what-emerging-church that I think convey the characteristics of the Emerging Church:

    “Following are some of the common traits I have discovered by reading through Emerging Church material. But please understand that not all Emerging Churches adhere to all the points listed.

    An awareness of and attempt to reach those in the changing postmodern culture.
    An attempt to use technology, i.e., video, slide shows, internet.
    A broader approach to worship using candles, icons, images, sounds, smells, etc.
    An inclusive approach to various, sometimes contradictory belief systems.1
    An emphasis on experience and feelings over absolutes.
    Concentration on relationship-building over proclamation of the gospel.
    Shunning stale traditionalism in worship, church seating, music, etc.
    A de-emphasis on absolutes and doctrinal creeds
    A re-evaluation of the place of the Christian church in society.
    A re-examination of the Bible and its teachings.
    A re-evaluation of traditionally-held doctrines.
    A re-evaluation of the place of Christianity in the world.”

    I am not sure if all of the above items are disturbing, but it bothers me that re-examination, re-evaluation and de-emphasis of doctrines that I hold to be true are included in the list. We must be careful to know the man who brings us his interpretation of Christianity.

  2. Donnie,

    I went into the sermon with a general idea of Campolo’s point of view. I also knew that his Theology was, as best I can tell, Orthodox. I knew he was going to have some different opinions about social issues, political issues, etc. But, I assumed that we would have a lot of common ground Theologically.

    Whether is was right or wrong for him to be in the pulpit at CBC is not my point.

    I was willing to listen to him preach because I wanted to hear what he had to say. I think the message he gave was spot on. I think the message to the church needs to be that there cannot be a separation between what I believe and what I do.

    Do I agree with some of his approaches? No.

    Do I agree with some of his theology? No.

    Do I want to be a layman at his church under his teaching? No.

    Did God use him to speak to my heart and to challenge my thoughts? Yes.

    I walked away from Sunday with a perspective, a point of view, that I had not really given much thought to. It really spawned some ideas that I am going to pursue, things that I would not have considered before.

    I enjoyed the sermon. I would highly recommend anyone who missed it to listen to it via the church podcast. You might be surprised.

    Do I want him to come back and preach a week long revival? No.

    But Sunday was Good.

  3. Alan,
    Thank you for posting your opinions on the Tony Campolo visit. Though we do not agree on most of it, I respect that you have an opinion. This seems to be something that many people do not have the courage to express these days. With that being said, I woud like to express my opinion on the situation. I will not go into the countless quotes that I have watched and read from Mr. Campolo that contradict what I know that the Bible says. Instead, I will direct my statements to the message that was given on Sunday. I personally did not attend the sevice. However, I know what was said due to the podcast. First off, Mr. Campolo claims to believe the Bible from cover to cover. He even stated this in Sundays service. But I’ve heard him say in other speeches that he stands by the opinion that anyone who does not believe in female pastors is evil (his words). He believes that capital punishement is wrong, and that somehow each of us holds the ability to have the same powers as Jesus. I can go on and on but my intentions are to outline why he is wrong. My intention is to highlight why it is so dangerous to waver on any doctrine when it comes to our church family. I do not know you personally, but judging by your writing and the fact that you have been a Christian for many years, I can say in confidence that you not only understand truth, but can also sift through the bull that is thrown out there by false teachers. Therefore, a speaker like this is not a real danger to you. Unfortunately, the seats on Sunday are not filled with people of your spiritual maturity. Many of them are young Christians. Many of them are still trying to understand the meaning of truth. Because of this, many of them will assume that anyone standing in the pulpit is speaking truth. From there they may go home and google Mr. Campolo and believe everything that they hear. They may buy some of his books and before you know it they are attempting to distribute the Holy Spirit through physical contact (his words). Or, they are making statements like “you cannot love America and call yourself a Christian” (also his words, but not from Sunday). As a veteran and a Christian, this statement had much to do with my refusal to attend Sundays service. I will close in saying that the beauty of being liberal is that you can twist the truth to suit your needs as you see fit. This works out great when you are in the business of pleasing people instead of God. I will be honest. My personal opinions of this man and his message are not high. But, since I do believe the Bible and am unwilling to waver on it, I can say that this is exactly the kind of person that the Lord Jesus said that we will have to deal with. Thank you for the opportunity to express my opinion. Sincerely, Danny Pettry

  4. You have expressed a concern that I have heard from several individuals (no names to protect the guilty).

    I think it is important to protect those who are weaker or “younger” in the faith. And some of Campollo’s views are out there and his arguments can be compelling.

    This emphasizes why it is important for believes to know the Word. But as Paul says, it is like offering meat to those who are only desiring milk. It is sad that there are Christians who have been believes for decades and are still not able to discern the Truth of God’s Word.

    Thanks for commenting and offering your thoughts.

  5. I also attended the sermon that Sunday and I can attest that Danny is absolutely right. I am a young Christian and just to put it out there, my dad follows Jewish beliefs and my father-in-law is Muslim. Want to talk about confused? If I had not researched Mr. Campolo and fully prepared myself for what to expect; friend day could have been detremental to my beliefs. Luckily, Calvary is full of very knowledgeable and steadfast Christians that helped me find my way through the maze of Mr. Campolo’s thoughts and beliefs. I also had a problem with him coming to speak but decided I would show up, as a sign of strength and a sign of confidence in our pastoral staff. Here’s how I saw it; if I didn’t like what he said, I could walk out. I sat close enough so if my heart desired to do just that, he would see it. I enjoyed his speech, it was like reading a good novel. There were some high points and some funny points but the basis of it seemed to be fiction. His ideals on mission work were pretty good and those are what are got him invited to our church. I had issues with him coming and especially on friend day. I think he was misrepresentation of our church and our beliefs. That Sunday was lively though, lively but maybe not spirited. I took my concerns to the staff of Calvary. I sat down and talked to the pastors about the reasoning and let them know how it came off to people around us. If you have concerns with our church and its direction, I invite you to do the same. I can say with confidence that Calvary is full of strong, confident Christian families and is in no wavering in its belief systems. Maybe that’s why brother Don thought we could handle it? I think its great Mr. Campolo got us all talking but do reach out to those you know are young Christians and enlighten them about some of what they heard. They may be going around trying to touch people instead of talk to them. If not for my friends at Calvary and the staff, I may also have been out grabbing strangers by the arm and not inviting them to church. Hope the perspective of a “young” Christian helps in this conversation.

  6. First let me say it is NEVER okay for the pastor of a church to invite someone to preach from the pulpit that “preaches another gospel”
    I do not let someone preach at our church that reads form another text. I think it is the duty of the pastor to watch the flock, not invite a wolf in. While I agree that Christians can have different points of view, it is not wise to have these coming from the pulpit that claims to stand for truth.
    The problem is not what Mr. Campolo had to say, but where he was invited to say it at, Calvary.
    As an outsider, this show weakness on the part of the leadership of the Church starting at the Pastor and the board of Deacons. Poor leadership is bad leadership.
    A heartfelt “I was wrong” for Brother Don would go a long way in mending this problem. A strong stand against this happening again from the people is a must. This is a big step away from a conservative Church to a very liberal one. That’s my point of view and I am not afraid to speak it.
    Don’t let to pass determine your future.

  7. In my humble opinion, when you are steadfast to your own, or your own church’s or denomination’s gospel, then you are not really interested in the gospel of Jesus Christ but more concerned about following a man and regurgitating the doctrine of your denomination and a highly subjective worldview based on your likes and dislikes. Also, if you are only willing to listen to preachers from your church or your denomination, you are bordering on false worship. God alone is god, and the scripture is subject to interpretation.

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