Dr. Tony Campolo has never been accused of being boring.
I was a young pastor, eager to be mentored in communication and leadership, when I heard Tony address the Congress on Pentecostal Leadership in Toronto.
Not too deep into his message, Tony had people seeing red.
Getting A Reaction
“I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a s-t. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said s-t than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”
Tony Campolo is, like Jesus was – a master at getting people upset so their thinking can be reset.
In 2003 Christianity Today described Tony’s communication style as making “use of hyperbole and shock, followed with cogent arguments, along with reams of Scripture.”
Over his many years of Christian service, Tony has boldly challenged millions of people all over the world to respond to God’s boundless love by combining personal discipleship, evangelism and social justice.
Tony has been:
a counselor to Presidents,
a Professor at Eastern University,
a Pastor, Sociologist and Evangelist.
an author of 39 books,
and most recently a founder of the Red-letter Christian movement.
The red what?
Red-letter, as in the portions of the New Testament that in some Bibles are printed with red ink. Those portions are the words of Jesus. Campolo asserts that the words of Jesus should have priority over all other passages of Scripture.
Tony believes that you really cannot rightly interpret the rest of the Bible without first understanding who Jesus is, what he did, and what he said.
The red letters of Jesus don’t compete with the black letters in the rest of the Bible – they complete them and transcend them.
Jesus said, “Don’t suppose for a moment that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama.” Matthew 5:17 (The Message)
A Different Spirit
He is over 80 years old.
He reminds me of Caleb in the Old Testament who was described as having a “different spirit.”
Tony keeps the main thing the main thing. Listen to 20 seconds of his speaking and you’ll understand.
“The goal of Red Letter Christians is simple: To take Jesus seriously by endeavoring to live out His radical, counter-cultural teachings as set forth in Scripture, and especially embracing the lifestyle prescribed in the Sermon on the Mount.”
Once you’ve met Tony, you’ll never forget him and he may just help you remember why you became a Christian in the first place.
APPLICATION: Do you own a “Red Letter Bible?” Please leave a comment below.
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Bob, I was there too. You neglected to mention the “hey, McKnight, do you smoke?” comment. I for one, love how he pushes us to truth about Jesus and ourselves. I wish I could be there with you to hear him.
Isn’t that awesome how you remember that from so long ago? I didn’t include it in the post because it would take too much explanation but I remember it. I was talking with Jim Lantz about it this week and he remembers the same comment. Wish you could be here too. Too bad the SCT choir won’t be practicing by then.
I so wish I could be there! Thankful for you ‘Bib’. Even a province away you continue to challenge and inspire me to be better. .. At everything. Sure need you here on the island. You have no idea how much!
Hello V. Great to hear from you. Good memories of Ironman at the Bookstore and prepping for Leadercast. You were always a gracious and generous host. Success and blessing to you.
And I call you Bob for two reasons. You are my friend and it is impossible to spell it incorrectly. Great blog. Keep them coming. Can I have your permission to reprint this in my District LifeLine?
Go for it, Al (an even easier name to spell!).