In the latest issue of World magazine, Bart Campolo, son of well-known speaker, author, sociologist, pastor, and social activist Tony Campolo, gives frank answers about his walk away from Christianity and his new job as a “humanist chaplain” at a secular university in California. You can read the interview for yourself.
I would like to make two comments about Bart Campolo’s statements given to World magazine:
When asked the question, “What spiritual nurturing would someone who doesn’t believe in a spiritual life need?,” Campolo answered, “It’s interesting that you should ask, because here’s the thing. If somebody came to the conclusion, as I did a number of years ago, ‘I think this life is all there is. I think that when I die I’ll be dead,’ the most immediate question that came to me was, if this is it, how do you make the most of it? I have this wonderful opportunity to be a sentient human being, to be able to think and feel and understand and fall in love and have relationships.” He goes on to talk about helping others who don’t believe in God to have a fulfilling life.
But Campolo believes that once he dies, and when others (including the people he supposedly helps have a fulfilling life) also die, then that will be the end of them! They won’t even know they ever existed. So for all his fluffy talk about living a full life and falling in love, and so on, ultimately life is all totally pointless! All he is doing is leading others to a purposeless, meaningless life—on their way to eternal separation from God in a place the Bible calls hell.
From other statements Campolo made to the magazine, it seems that the issues of why there is suffering and death in the world had an effect on whether he could believe in a loving God. However, unless you take a stand on a literal Genesis (which his father, by the way does not), you cannot understand that we are living in a fallen world (Genesis 3)—we are not in the original “very good” world God created.
Over the years, I have seen that when there’s compromise on God’s Word in one generation, often there is much more of a rejection of God’s Word in the next. Tony Campolo, who from all accounts is a genial man (though terribly wrong theologically in many areas), is often called a founder of the “Christian left” and was a spiritual advisor to former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Even his recent statement on gay “marriage” tells us where he stands on the authority of Scripture: “It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.” I personally believe his slide into liberalism (both theological and political) had a significant effect on his son. (A few years ago a couple of our staff members talked to his son, who used to live in our area, and heard him speak about social issues; Bart appeared to be in alignment with his father on many issues.)
What happened here with Bart Campolo should be another reminder to parents to be diligent in training their children to stand uncompromisingly on the Word of God and in equipping them to defend the Christian faith. Knowing what his father believed and taught, Bart did not grow up in a household where the Word of God was authoritative and accurate from Genesis to Revelation. Yes, we’re seeing more and more young people walking away from the church. The statistics are frightening, and I want to challenge you to help us bring back the lost generation. Know the statistics, know the problem, and be a part of the solution.
I encourage you to equip yourself, your family, your friends, your pastor, and your church with key resources to train your youth: Already Gone, Already Compromised, and Ready to Return. The foundation of our Christian doctrines is in the book of Genesis, where the gospel begins.
Please join me in genuine prayer for the Campolo family, and for our church’s young people who are the next generation.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.