Letter: “Tony Campolo is speaking at my church”

Tony Campolo: Author and speaker on political ...

Tony Campolo

When it comes to teachers and preachers with whom we have major doctrinal differences, where should churches draw the line when inviting them in as speakers to the pulpit?  A listener in Pennsylvania asks that very question, and we’ve shared it here with his permission:

I am 35-years-old and live about 40 miles west of Philadelphia.  Tony Campolo is speaking at my church in the near future (scheduled for Jan 26th).  When my wife and I found this out we were rather concerned due to his theological positions, social comments, and the fact that my wife briefly attended Eastern University and was rather disturbed when she saw him speak.
I contacted the pastor at my church who organized the speaking engagement yesterday via email and asked why he was speaking, and kindly expressed my concerns. I received a response late last night where my pastor stated Tony’s speaking does not mean the church endorses all of his positions, that we should not just bring in people we agree with on every point, and that Tony is solidly evangelical, the “evangelical Mother Theresa in our land, ” for serving those in need in the Philadelphia area.
Although I appreciate my pastor’s response, Campolo’s speaking does not sit well with my wife and we are leaning toward not attending.
Here are a few questions for you that are currently on my mind:
  1. My pastor’s comments about listening to speakers we do not agree with gives me concern based on Jesus warning the disciples about the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 16:5-6.  I understand we all sin and are going to be wrong in some areas. However, am I interpreting this passage correctly that we should beware of the yeast of  people like Tony Campolo who promote theology and social change that may not necessarily agree with the Bible?
  2. Where should churches draw the line when inviting outside speakers they disagree with and when should we the congregation bring our concerns to the attention of the leadership?
  3. Finally, do you recommend my wife and I put aside our concerns and attend?  I know you did something similar when visiting the mosque and are contemplating the same with Brian McLaren’s engagement.

Thank you for reading this and I pray Stand Up for the Truth will continue to be faithful to God’s Word and tackle the tough issues that Christians face day-to-day.



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8 Responses to Letter: “Tony Campolo is speaking at my church”

  1. Marjan says:

    First of all let me say that we as a belivers, should be kind, and than defend the truth. Tony Campolo is not a friend of the body of Christ, he wants some other christianity that is not in the Bible. It will be very, very bad to put that man on your pulpit. Evan if he sounds like good man, the things that he says are agents the word of God, and agents God! He will not come inspired by God, but by the worlds, and it is clear that he is liberal who is deludet by the devil to make harm to the church. Don't let him be part of you! I know emergent guys who are saying thear agenda not in direkt way, but from angles that can make man doubt in the word of God. They are not aware of that probebly, but thet dos not mean we should let them spread thear thoughts who are pure heresy and evilness.


  2. Bev says:

    Speaking out and letting your pastor know you have a red flag about someone or some teaching is so important. It may not change the fact that the pastor will still have that guest come., but it will protect the church and teach others to bring up the red flags they see too. It can help stop an agenda that the church body doesn't want but finds themselves steeped in error after it is too late. Take an elder in to speak to the pastor with you so that he can't say you are the only one bothered by this. If most people keep quiet they do a real disservice to the one in the body who really cares about the flock and wants to keep the wolves out. The discerning one is made to look rebellious if no one else can be truthful. It's a sticky situation. Handle with prayer.


  3. Byron says:

    Before you go in to meet with that Elder and your Pastor, do some real homework & have your scripture down pat supporting your view. If that does not work then strongly consider moving to a good Bible believing church where you are fed theTruth. And as stated before handle all with prayer.


  4. SharG says:

    Response # 4

    All 3 answers are good ones. We have one person that is bringing in Emerging Church ideas in Sunday night group meetings and also Wednesday night. I spoke to the pastor about a study he had on the "Good Parts of the Message Bible. I even gave him information on the Message by many of our respected authors,

    The pastor told me that, at first he had denied the request, then the man came back with a couple of other members and they convinced him that we should study these concepts so we could be prepared to counteract them if we found them to be wrong. But, remember, the title was "Good parts of the Message Bible. Also this young man uses that Bible exclusively in his own studies and makes it a point to bring this up and tell us how much better we would understand if we used this Bible.

    We now have a new pastor and the same thing is happening. This is a small church with many older people so the younger ones are the ones being exposed the most.
    He also had a study on "The Good Points of the Shack". That is when I quit his group and went to the first pastor. I have not been able to go to church, for health reasons, for the past 4 months but am in close contact with our pastor on almost a daily basis. I intend to email him and ask his opinion on the Shack (as I read where it is going to be released again) and on the Message Bible. After I read his reply I will send my information on the creeping in of false information and the Scriptural error that is in both of these books.

    Prayer seems to have become the only defense against heresy in our churches though I do believe at least presenting the pastors with facts may be a start.

    We cannot fail. We owe it to our Lord that gave Himself for us and for the love of the Father. Never can we forget we have the Holy Spirit to help us pray and to give us strength to endure.

    In Christ's Love


  5. Meggy says:

    Also John 2.2 I have recently heard that "not inviting those into your home who do not have the whole doctrine of Christ" actually means endorsing them by just such events as your pastor having him as a speaker. The second epistle of John is full of warning as is Jude. Throw out the bones AND throw out the meat of such speakers. Mixtures are the beginnings of deception and a little leaven . . .


  6. chris says:

    Tony has done many wonderful things for people across our nation and our world. He may not completely align with every doctrinal issue with every one of us but he has not been afraid to get into the issues of our times and show the love of God to many people who would never have been reached. Maybe we should give an ear to those who are making a difference for the cause of Christ.


  7. Manny P. says:

    Tony Campolo and his ilk have nothing to do with Jesus Christ, not the Jesus of the bible. There are many unbelievers that are good honest people that work for their communities and help those in need, that has nothing to do with salvation…………… You can't earn it, you can't ever be good enough……if your righteousness doesn't surpass that of a Pharisee you're out of luck. By the way, even the Pharisees failed. If you know what Campolo has said and done in the name of Christ, you would see him for what he is, a wolf in sheep's clothing sad isn't it?


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