Tony Campolo: Did Jesus Mean What He Said?
One of America's most controversial Evangelical authors and speakers says it's time we read the "red letters" of the Bible -- the words of Jesus. Then the mysteries of living finally become clear.
BY: Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
to set the prisoners free.’
“I think that He would have a lot to say about the Palestinians who have responded with violence and terrorism and sending rockets over the wall,” says Campolo. “You know, innocent people and terrorism.
“You know, terrorism in which a child gets on a school bus in the morning unsure they will have a home when they return – and in which their parents aren’t sure the children are even going to get to school, it’s that kind of thing that Jesus would react to. Above all else, He would be a peacemaker, saying “Come on, how can we come up with a fair and just solution to this?”
Jesus would have a lot to say to the United States, says Campolo. “We provide billions of dollars to the state of Israel and simultaneously finance the Palestinian government.
“The fact that we finance both gives us the leverage to make peace talks happen. The good thing Jesus would say is, ‘I love both people. I wish that someone would remind them that the Jews are the children of Abraham but so are the Arabs. We need to reestablish a brotherhood that’s gotten lost somewhere along the line.
“I think Jesus would come reminding them of their heritage and calling them to be a single family.”
Palestinian Christians have endured terrible hardships,” says Campolo. “On the one hand, they fear themselves being persecuted by the Israeli government. On the other hand, they have all kinds of negative pressures exerted from the Muslims in the Holy Land.
“Bethlehem was once 85 percent Christian, but is now down to 15 percent. Christians have fled the area.
“If there’s one thing that’s come out of the Arab Spring, it is this – that we have suddenly become aware that there are all kinds of Christian people in places like Iran, Iraq and Egypt where they are enduring terrible persecution.
“We need to stand up for our Christian Arab brothers and sisters.”
But that’s certainly not the only issue Jesus would address – and which He does address if we look at the “red letters” of the Bible, says Campolo.
Jesus has much to say about abortion, shrinking church membership in liberal congregations, and even America’s national debt. For example, take abortion:
“Jesus is pro-life,” says Campolo, “and that means that life should be protected from the womb to the tomb.
“But being pro-life is not simply protecting the life of the unborn, but protecting the life of the born as well. One liberal congressman said to me sarcastically, ‘You evangelicals, do you think that protecting life ends at birth?’
“I knew exactly what he meant – that we see the unborn as precious, but once these kids are born, they’re on their own. I think I stated in the book that 72 percent of all abortions in America are economically driven. That is to say a woman who works 35 hours a week because her company doesn’t want to give her 40 hours -- since they’d have to provide her with healthcare – faces terrible choices.
“She works 35 hours a week and she’s making a minimum wage. She’s just about able to survive on that – it provides for rent and food but she gets pregnant and what does she face? She takes off for a couple of weeks to have the baby and she’ll probably lose her job.
“It’s a fact she wants to have the baby, but who’s going to pay the hospital bill – thousands of dollars?
“Most evangelicals voted in the last election for the political party that said ‘We want to end Obamacare before it even gets off the ground.’ That’s scary to me. If you don’t like Obamacare, what are you going to do for this woman who is pregnant?
“Are you going to provide prenatal care, postnatal care and pay the hospital bill? Are you going to raise her minimum wage?
“The same people who yell ‘Pro-life, pro-life, pro-life!’ are the same people in Congress who vote against raising the minimum wage. Check it out. And so here is this woman who is living below the poverty level and you are not going to raise the minimum wage even though the buying power of the minimum wage is 25 percent less than it was 20 years ago?
“What are we doing here? We call ourselves pro-life when all we are interested in is taking care of the unborn.
“We could cut the rate of abortions dramatically if we could provide the economic support system to sustain pregnant women, prenatal and postnatal – and if we would provide day care for the child. In short, if we are going to be pro-life and I am very pro-life, I think we have to be pro-life all the way.
“I think the Democrats are wrong in not being a pro-life party. I think Republicans are wrong in pretending to be a pro-life party. If you are pro-life, you have to be against capital punishment. You have to be for the medical care for the poor. You have to sustain poor people.”
Politicians need to be honest, says Campolo. “We put billions of dollars in their hands and they took that money which should have been used to take care of us in our old age and they’ve used it for everything else, building roads, building infrastructure and about 40 percent of it being used to sustain the military.
“Here’s the money that elderly people trusted to Congress, which instead spent it in ways that they felt would serve special interest