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by Tony Campolo

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-465-00831-3
Publisher: Basic

Exploration of evangelicalism from a politically progressive perspective.

Campolo (Sociology/Eastern Univ.) is a rare breed—a politically liberal, evangelical Christian. Here, he pens letters to a young pair of imaginary evangelicals, designed to provide them with guidance and counsel. The result is an intriguing look into the evangelical movement. Campolo displays deep concern for how evangelicals are viewed by society and takes great pains to disassociate fundamentalists from evangelicals. The attention to public perception is understandable, since Campolo states that, “Evangelicals regard winning souls to Christ as a moral obligation of the highest order.” That many people stereotype evangelicals as literalists, fundamentalists, or worse, as misogynists and bigots, stymies such a mission. Many of Campolo’s theological views are seemingly conservative: He sees the Bible as the inspired word of God, disagrees with homosexuality, is pro-life and believes Jesus is the only true path to salvation. Nevertheless, his letters also display a liberal political viewpoint: He supports civil rights for homosexuals, argues for the United Nations, warns against excessive patriotism and opposes the war in Iraq. Much of his work is pointed at the current political climate, and he especially repudiates evangelical ties to the Republican Party, decrying “the recent Evangelical marriage to conservative politics.” The author provides an interesting historical perspective on the evangelical movement throughout the book, and draws upon the writings of a wide array of theologians. The book is not for everyone, and non-evangelicals of every political stripe will find its content puzzling at times. To some, Campolo’s message will seem hopelessly trapped in contradictions. But it does present a good introduction to the rifts which affect some Christian churches and denominations.

Liberal viewpoints from an overwhelmingly conservative movement.