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On Befriending Liberals

April 20, 2007

Here’s a quote from A Scandalous Freedom by Steve Brown in which he talks about his liberal friend, Tony Campolo.

“Being friends with Tony Campolo, however, can cause you a whole lot of trouble if you happen to be, as I am, a political and social conservative.  In the Clinton years, Tony became a close friend of and counselor to the president.  In addition, it was reported (and, by the way, it wasn’t true) that Tony was supportive of homosexual marriages.  he also was called a heretic (which isn’t true), a socialist (which isn’t mostly true) and a wild-eyed liberal (which is absolutely true).

…It is hard for me to hear people attack my friend.  You see, I know Tony.  I know his commitment to Christ, his love and concern for the poor and the oppressed, and his gigantic heart.   I believe he is wrong about most things, but decided that I would rather spend time with Tony than with those who are right, who agree with me about political and social issues but who have become mean and rock hard in the certainty.”

That, my scandalized friends, is one reason I’m now blogging at the BHT.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2007 3:52 pm

    So you wouldn’t agree when I called Campolo a heretic? I’m open to being wrong on this, heck, I hope I am. But what Campolo said about God and Katrina went over the line as far as I can tell.

  2. iMonk permalink
    April 20, 2007 4:40 pm

    So in the BHT, who is Steve and who is Tony? :-)

  3. martian koolaid permalink
    April 20, 2007 8:05 pm

    What is BHT?

  4. April 20, 2007 10:00 pm


    I guess I would be Steve, though I’m slightly more moderate than he is politically, but just as conservative theologically.

    As to who is Tony, I don’t know everyone well enough yet, but definitely not you. I’m pegging you a bit to the right of Tony, but I could be wrong.


    read back a couple posts. It’s the Boar’s Head Tavern.

  5. April 20, 2007 10:39 pm


    I was going to say that heretic is a problematic word to use. The word has come throughout church history to mean false teacher or wolf in sheep’s clothing or excommunicant. But the Greek word actually just means divisive person. In the language of the NT, you could actually be an orthodox heretic. So I just avoid the word altogether because it is so confusing.

    But then I actually read the Campolo quotation you cited. Holy moly. That’s some awfully heretical, ahem, I mean blasphemous stuff.

    But the point of the Steve Brown quote is not that we should affirm Tony’s wacko views, just that it’s OK to be nice to him.

    As for the “Is he a Christian or not?” question, I fear to pass judgment. Steve Brown knows him well and seems to think so. Our doctrine of remaining indwelling sin leads me not to underestimate just how ridiculously foolish a born again believer can be. We’re saved by faith, not by doctrine.

  6. martian koolaid permalink
    April 21, 2007 4:17 pm

    I think this “befriending people with opposing political views” should be preached more to liberals than conservatives.The problem is that liberals have a problem with befriending me because of my strong views, my ability to articulate them, and that I often do articulate them. Otherwise, I don’t care what political persuasion my friend is.

  7. April 22, 2007 12:27 am

    I think I just about had a heart attack that iMonk is posting comments to a blog I read. Yay, iMonk! :D Sorry… I’m just having a minor fangirl moment. … … …

  8. Oddball permalink
    April 23, 2007 11:46 pm

    If there’s a lesson to be drawn from Katrina, I think it might just be the folly of building cities 12 below sea level (and still sinking) in a hurricane zone, especially as sea level is slowly rising.

    The Asian tsunami is more troubling to me. I don’t deny that God could have stopped it, but I hesitate to call it a judgment on those who perished. After all, God sends both rain and sun on the righteous and unrighteous alike. The main theological point that such catastropies drive home for me is the fact that we live in a fallen and cursed world that is groaning for liberation from bondage to futility. To paraphrase Francis Schaeffer commenting on Camus’ book “The Plague,” only the Christian can fight against ‘natural’ evils such as disease with the knowledge that we are not fighting against God.


    Remember me from Rob Schlapfer’s Dialogue Box?


    I would agree that strident liberals can be as intolerant as conservatives, but I wouldn’t say that they are generally MORE guilty of this. As an outspoken pro-life environmentalist, I take a comparable number of blows from either camp.

  9. April 24, 2007 1:18 pm

    Oddball, I think you’re on the money as far as the tsunami goes. That kind of thing shouldn’t have us (Christians anyway) wagging our finger in God’s face but instead we need to look at that and recognize that the sin in the world is what makes things like tsunami’s a reality. And then we, like creation, should be groaning for release from the burden of sin. And that is something we know God is doing something about.

    Rob Schlapfer’s Dialogue Box? Oh my, those were the days! :) It has been a while, hasn’t it?

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