Saturday, February 10, 2007

Evangelical Tony Campolo Blind To Plight Of Unborn

For 25 years I was very proud to belong to Canada’s “Evangelical” camp of Christians. I believe I have a good appreciation for the passion which true Evangelicals possess for the proclamation of the gospel and for the spiritual reclamation of the Canadian people. Their zeal in these areas is highly commendable and worthy of imitation.

However, the Evangelical sense of justice has been very seriously compromised I believe, and nowhere is this more evident than in the case of justice for the unborn. In this posting I will offer one illustration of that claim, an illustration drawn from recent events surrounding the visit of Tony Campolo to Edmonton for the Break Forth Canada 2007 Conference.

Break Forth Canada bills itself as the largest equipping and renewal conference in North America.

The conference is designed to help Christians explore and embrace innovative new ways of expressing faith through worship.

But Salte said there's more to the conference than just to refresh Christians.

"We also want them challenged to make a profound difference in the world, even though it costs us our personal comfort," he said.

"We believe that Tony will speak to this issue as he always does, challenging Christians to live a life imitating Jesus, who emptied himself and became a servant, even though he was God."

Evangelicals promote the Christian message primarily through revivalism and renewal meetings and so this sort of conference is very much in keeping with that tradition, although perhaps more squarely aimed at Christian leaders.

And here is where the problem lies.

Why was Tony Campolo chosen to deliver the keynote address?

Campolo, a 71-year-old Baptist preacher and widely acclaimed author, delivered the keynote address at Break Forth Canada.

And what does Campolo believe? What is his agenda? (I have no problem with agendas. We all have them, whether we recognize it or not. The important thing is to accept that reality and to factor it into the mix when evaluating actions and behaviour aimed at bettering our society.)

Campolo, who lives with his wife in a suburb of Philadelphia, contends that the evangelical movement has been hijacked by the religious right.

"There is no doubt that while Tony is strongly evangelical, he is also strongly committed to the needs of the poor and oppressed around the world," said Salte, founder and executive director of New Creation Ministries.

In an interview, Campolo said that while the religious right likes to focus on hot-button issues such as homosexuality and abortion, Jesus was more concerned with the injustices of poverty, violence and intolerance.

In his latest book, Letters to a Young Evangelical, Campolo calls on all Christians to challenge the "monolithic and doctrinaire" religious right, and also to rethink their political commitments through a return to the words of Christ himself.

A Review of Tony Campolo's Recent Book

At the Muddling Toward Maturity Blog, the blogmaster references Jordan Hylden's review of Campolo’s book in the February, 2007 issue of First Things. The assessment really comes down to this: Campolo is a liberal “evangelical” pushing left wing politics.

From Hylden’s review:

I tried to keep track: You make an argument (liberally peppered with Bible verses) for the Democratic position on abortion, gay marriage, tax cuts, trade policy, Iraq, nuclear disarmament, school vouchers, racial profiling, the closing of Guantanamo Bay, capital punishment, and global warming."

. . .You say you are "firmly pro-life," but if that is true, I have a hard time understanding why you spend most of a chapter parroting Planned Parenthood's arguments in favor of legalized abortion. . .

Tristan Emmanuel had comments about Campolo's address to Canadians

Canada’s own Tristan Emmanuel, in a posting on Apprising Ministries blog [WARNING: Anti-Catholic website] noted that while he “traveled to America to warn 1100 Southern Baptists about the spiritual and moral dangers of secularism,” Tony Campolo “traveled to Canada to warn 1100 Lutherans about the so-called dangers of the ‘religious right.’"

This is some of what Tristan had to say:

He's calling evangelicals to focus on more important "issues" like poverty, while warning them about misplaced political agendas like the genocide of abortion. I'm not - because it's an unbiblical distinction.

He's calling evangelicals to pick and choose what is inspired, relevant and authoritative - to decide what is a "red letter" priority. I'm not - Christianity is a package deal.

He's concerned about the future "image" of evangelicals. I'm not - especially if that means becoming politically correct.

He's talking social justice, tolerance and love, while dissing other Christians. I'm talking revival and moral reformation - while challenging the cultural goliaths.

The contrast couldn't be starker.

Where is the reaction from Canada's Evangelicals?

So why was Tony Campolo chosen as keynote speaker at Break Forth Canada? I surely don’t think he represents Canada’s Evangelical community, and if I’m correct, then why have we not heard more reaction, even outrage, from the Evangelicals about this?

Tristan Emmanuel is to be congratulated for his comments, but where is the voice of good Evangelical organizations like EFC?

Surely they too need to formally distance themselves from Tony Campolo’s stance by means of a statement or else suffer a loss in credibility themselves.

It’s not simply for EFC’s sake, or the Evangelical’s sake, but for the sake of the unborn. These are the kind of statements…this is the kind of poison…that keeps Canadians from recognizing and opposing the grave injustice of abortion in our great nation.

As Tristan said,

I'm talking revival and moral reformation - while challenging the cultural goliaths.

Yes, exactly! The cultural goliath of abortion must first be challenged, not mischaracterized and dismissed, before it can be defeated.

But an important question is:
Do Evangelicals really believe what they say?

If Ken Marotte is right in his insightful article Babies Need Protestants, Too we see that American evangelicals overwhelmingly oppose abortion.

The situation becomes even more puzzling in light of recent research — this from ABC — that 63% of Protestant evangelicals think abortion should be illegal "in all or most cases," compared to 45% of Catholics. The Pew Research Center uncovered similar results, with Protestants 3% more likely to oppose abortion than Catholics.

I have found this kind of “thinking opposition" to abortion to apply equally well in Evangelical circles in Canada.

If Sam Reimer’s book Evangelicals and the Continental Divide: The Conservative Protestant Subculture in Canada and the United States is any indication, Evangelicals in Canada and the US think surprisingly alike on the issue of abortion.

In this book, Reimer argues that "[e]vangelicals, particularly active evangelicals, in both countries resemble each other far more than they resemble their fellow countrymen" (p. 6). He finds that there are many similarities in the Canadian and American core evangelical communities; such similarities include maintenance of clear boundaries, personal identity and important religious experiences, such as conversion. According to Reimer, core evangelicals share comparable lifestyle expectations, particularly with issues of sexual morality and abortion; they also experience social encapsulation and see themselves as different from other non-evangelicals in society. [Review by Sociology of Religion, Summer, 2005 by Lanette Ruff]

Wilberforce and Evangelicals

In my estimation, we can find the heart and voice of Canadian Evangelicals in the periodical In a Jan/Feb 2007 article in which reviewed and commented on the new Wilberforce movie, Amazing Grace, which opens in U.S. theatres February 23, 2007, we get a useful glimpse into the mind of today’s Canadian Evangelical.

Too often Evangelicals are known for what they oppose. Amazing Grace provides the perfect opportunity to showcase what they stand for, says Geoff Tunnicliffe, who serves as both the WEA's international director and The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada's director of global initiatives. "What the film does for us is provide another mechanism in motivating evangelical Christians to be agents of transformation in culture," he says. "My sense is that there's a growing response to these issues [but] much more can be done."

Today there's good news, if one can call it that, but mostly bad when it comes to global slavery. International aid agencies, Christian advocacy groups and the United Nations (UNESCO) believe there are 27 million slaves worldwide, bought and sold at an average price of $100. That is the largest number of people ever enslaved at any point in world history.

The article focuses on modern day slavery, making various observations and offering challenges to Christians for involvement:

"When I see man's inhumanity to man, it just tears me up," sighs Jamie McIntosh, executive director of International Justice Mission Canada, a broad-based Christian agency based in London, Ontario, that rescues victims of violence, sexual exploitation, slavery and other forms of abuse and oppression around the world.

An ordained minister of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, McIntosh challenges activist Christians to do more to eliminate slavery—and non-activist Christians to get started. "While I think churches are waking up to the issue, the reality is most people are simply unaware of modern slavery," he says. "As the church does wake up, we find we have incredible power and resources to bring to bear on behalf of the oppressed."

Why Ignore Legalized Murder In Canada?

I say to my Evangelical brothers and sisters: Yes, like Jamie McIntosh, when I see man's inhumanity to man, it just tears me up too!

Therefore, why not first address the greatest social injustice ever to take place in the history of Canada and the world [multiple millions of human beings slaughtered in the womb] and more particularly the 105,000 unborn Canadians who are perishing yearly right on our doorsteps.

Jamie says that as the church wake ups, "we find we have incredible power and resources to bring to bear on behalf of the oppressed." Why not bring all that power and resource to bear on behalf of the unborn who are not simply oppressed but literally cut to pieces and killed? Why not first put right this injustice in Canada, in our own back yard, and then we will have moral credibility when it comes to the issue of modern day slavery. Or if you prefer, let's put resources into both injustices at the same time, giving priority where justice is most urgent.

Why not first address this?


Is it ignorance of the humanity of the unborn? If so, then why say you oppose abortion?

Is it apathy? Is it cowardice?

The article notes this about Wilberforce:

"He doesn't have the credentials that make someone newsworthy nowadays. He wasn't a rebel. He wasn't remotely rock 'n' roll. He was straight, white, wealthy and conservative. His crusade against the slave trade was driven by his devout Christianity. Today he would probably be written off as a religious crank."

May God stir up more Evangelical religious cranks today.

Evangelicals Please Wake Up

Like I said in my introduction to this post:

The Evangelical sense of justice has been very seriously compromised.

The integrity of such Christianity must be questioned.

I remind ALL my fellow Christians of the harsh words of our Saviour, Lord, and King, Jesus Christ on that great day of judgment when the sheep and goats appear before Him:

"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matt. 25:40


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