A while back I posted (July 9 - Faithful Are the Wounds of a Friend) about how one of my best friends gave me some stern criticism over my post concerning the deceptions of the "social gospel" (July 1 - The Smokescreen of the Social gospel) as preached by Tony Campolo and many from the emergent crowd. Now my friend is not a liberal by any stretch but he tends to be more accomodating than I am (and Todd Friel for that matter).
This friend is a precious brother who has, over the years, patiently watched me while I've ridden hobby horse after hobby horse, mounted soap box after soap box, and continually beaten my fists at the table of negotiation as a reformer looking for something to reform. On reflection I would have to say that my friend has always exhibited greater wisdom, been less impulsive, and exhibited far more courtesy than I ever have to my own discredit. He is a pondering Berean who generally tends to give the benefit of the doubt and always tries to put the best possible construction on things - of which I have been the beneficiary on numerous occasions.
With these things in mind I have taken my time to chew over the criticism's my good friend levelled at myself and at Todd Friel's anlysis of Tony Campolo's social gospel agenda. Todd Friel has even e-mailed me saying how sad he is to criticise Tony Campolo's theology because he is so "likable". No doubt about it - Tony Campolo is involved with doing a lot of good things and helping a lot of people. But in the interest of the truth and the purity of the Gospel, questions must be asked. And the many good things Tony Campolo is involved in can actually serve to wrap the lies of the "social gospel" in a lot of truth - which is exactly the kind of sandwich that a church culture full of undiscerning youth will readily swallow.
My friend has worked a lot with youth and teens and I remain convinced that the philosophy of "eat the fish and spit out the bones" is a suicidal approach to the spiritual diet of the people in one's care, particularly youth. I contend that a far safer approach in this age of biblical illiteracy is "bad fruit therefore bad tree therefore stay away from that thing" and remedy the biblical illiteracy by teaching the Bible expositorally (if that's a word).
So was Todd Friel too hard on Tony Campolo? Well let's welcome theological heavyweight John MacArthur into the fray and see what he has to say about the "social gospel" of Tony Campolo. It's well worth the listen . . .
My friend may be wise, and his words carry weight, but I'm going to side with John MacArthur and Todd Friel on this one. Shepherds beware - of false gospels dressed like sheep.