Campolo apologizes for 'intemperate' comments on 'those who differ with me'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Speaker and author Tony Campolo voiced an apology "for the intemperate manner in which I spoke of those who differ with me" on the issues of women in ministry and homosexuality in a July 3 letter to Baptist Press.

Campolo also voiced a clarification of his views on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and Jesus' Second Coming in his letter, sparked by a Baptist Press report June 27 on his comments to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly the previous day in Charlotte, N.C.

On women in ministry, Campolo stated in his July 3 letter to Baptist Press:

"I do believe that organizations and social structures that deny women the right to exercise spiritual gifts and actualize their spiritual potentialities are sinful, evil, and even instruments of the devil. I do not, however, believe that the individual people who make up those organizations and who participate in those social structures necessarily have either impure motivations or insincere convictions. While I am convinced that the policies of many institutions are injurious to women, I am equally convinced that the people who form and support those policies mean well."

On homosexuality, Campolo stated:

"Likewise, while I believe that Christians should stand against those who would denigrate homosexuals or deny their legal rights, my understanding of the first chapter of Romans does not allow me to support same-gender eroticism, as some of my critics have suggested. On June 26, as always, I was simply calling on the church of Jesus Christ to show love and understanding to our homosexual brothers and sisters."

Campolo's comments prompted Morris H. Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, to lament Campolo's "characterization as 'evil' and 'sinful' those who take what they believe to be a biblical position on the issue of female pastors."

Campolo apparently would deem as evil "the majority of Christians of all ages who have held to the teaching of the Scripture on this topic," Chapman stated. "Southern Baptists have plainly stated what we believe New Testament teaching on the issue to be. For that, we have no apologies to offer Mr. Campolo."

On homosexuality, Chapman stated that Scripture describes homosexual activity as an abomination to the Lord.

"That is an extremely serious statement, and cute quips cannot substitute for serious thought in dealing with it," Chapman stated. "We do take the injunctions against homosexual behavior seriously, but we also strenuously believe that God shows His mercy and grace to all who repent, and that homosexual persons, like all sinners, are candidates for the forgiveness, grace, and cleansing of the Lord when they turn to Him from their sin. We also deeply believe that we are responsible to treat all others with kindness, and that hatred of anyone is forbidden."

Campolo said he was prompted to write a letter to Baptist Press because, "In fielding responses to your recent article about me, I have become increasingly fearful that my message to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's General Assembly is being misunderstood by people who were not with us there on June 26. In particular, I fear that reports of my message do not make plain the important distinction between structural sin and personal sin."

After his statements on women and ministry and homosexuality, Campolo wrote a paragraph on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and Jesus' Second Coming, noting:

"Finally, as a biblical, evangelical Christian, I believe that Jesus may return at any moment, that making all of Palestine into an Israeli state with Jerusalem as its capital is not a prerequisite for the Second Coming, and that those who oppose President Bush's roadmap to peace because it includes the establishment of a Palestinian state are needlessly hindering the resolution of the crisis in the Middle East."

Campolo then concluded his letter by stating, "Nevertheless, I very much want to apologize for the intemperate manner in which I spoke of those who differ with me on these issues. I should have chosen my words more carefully on June 26, and I sincerely ask the forgiveness of those who may have been hurt by my failure to do so."

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