Happy Birthday, ‘Ho’!

OK. I know. A lot of people don’t like Tony Campolo. A lot of my friends don’t like Tony Campolo. I know he’s  “too liberal”.  I know John MacArthur flatly states that Campolo “misses the central teaching of the Bible“.  I know he was once tried in ecclesaistical court for heresy. 

But still, you must admit, he can tell a great story!  And sometimes he makes a great point.

Watch the video above. Then tell me:

  1. Is there anything overtly theologically wrong in what he says?
  2. How does his example move you?
  3. Is this something you see would meet with Jesus’ approval?  How about the approval of the Aposte Paul, who, in Galatians 5.6, wrote: “…the only thing counts is Faith expressing itself through love.”?
  4. Would you want to be part of a chuch that does things like this?
  5. Ask yourself: How would the community around you respond to a church that does things like this?

 “When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices.”

17 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, ‘Ho’!

  1. Amen! Amen! Amen! TC just preached well some of the implications of the gospel. Would that I was more like that.
    What would make the story even better and more moving would be if it was John MacArthur who was on the video telling it.

  2. Great video– thanks for sharing. His example strikes me as offering a glimpse of the upside-down reality that Jesus taught and ultimately embodied in his own life. Insofar as Jesus’ theology consisted of eating with “sinners”– tax collectors and prostitutes– associating with outsiders– Samaritans and Gentiles– preaching and embodying an ethics of turning the other cheek and loving the enemy, and ultimately revealing to us the true nature of divinity– a crucified and resurrected God– Campolo’s is “theologically” in line with what Jesus came to proclaim and enact among us.

    No doubt Campolo’s story would be offensive to some; but this shouldn’t be a surprise. Jesus was offensive to many in his own day as was Paul in his proclamation of Christ crucified. Perhaps a response of disgust and offense to the story reveals the degree to which the gospel has been domesticated in our society.

    One more thought– Campolo made the comment that we often blame the individual “sinner” as if the actions that they do and the person that they embody were entirely their individual responsibility and within their control. As a sociologist, he is able to point out to us, that this isn’t really how things are. All of us are shaped by our environments to some degree, and the trauma that one may experience as a youth can haunt an individual for their entire life– in a sense, we do inherit the “sins of our forebears.” The evil that we do as well as the success that we might have are never our own– they in some way belong to many others who interacted with us along the way. I think that this has a direct bearig on how we view “sinners” and sin– perhaps in our individualistic society we are too quick to blame the person, when we should also be concerned with the collective that shaped this person and the structures of injustice and sin that are present within societies, including our own.

    • Dennis, this was another most interesting story from Campolo. He provokes thought and more even if he is sometimes strange. Maybe that is why we should hear him. This is a great story of what we need to think about outreach that is missing. How to show Jesus’ love to people we do not see or sit with. How to build bridges to connect outsiders with Jesus. This response needs more time than I can give it now. Thank you for this.

  3. I think it was GREAT! Wish I was part of a Church that did that!!!!! As far as if Tony is correct in his approach ….. YES ! This is somthing I think Jesus would do.

    I really like MacArther, but he’s a bit too strick for me. And he sure isn’t funny like Tony.

    If Churches did things like this our communities would be very different and many would come to know Jesus.

  4. I’m going to show this video to my deacons & elders Sunday afternoon during our joint meeting. Pray for me; I might be needing a job come Monday morning. 🙂 I have a bone to pick with guys like MacArthur but I’ll refrain from holding forth because I’ll probably just end up talking myself into a hole. I love the clip; it speaks volumes. Also, I think TC originally told that story in his book The Kingdom of God is a Party, published in the 1980’s. Wes

  5. I will comment along with Barbara. I find his language to be offensive but do agree with his
    “party” attitude. Many Churches do have TOO much of
    a country club attitude and “uppity” attitude. We
    need to seek out those who need to know
    the love of Christ.

  6. I do not know the rest of the story after the Birthday party ? God is Holy and I do believe that Jesus would have ministered in this way, however as with the account at the well, with the woman found in sin, He would have admonished and instructed to go and sin no more. The Lord would expect his Sheperds to complete the transaction regarding sin. I would definatly attend a Church which demonstrated this much compassion and love. I feel that the street language used could have been refined somewhat with the same lesson being taught. I suppose that this is an area of liberty however.

  7. Dennis,

    Great video. I haven’t agreed with Campolo on everything, but I have been a fan for a long time. He has a way of saying things that challenges the status quo and gets at the heart of the gospel. In response to your questions:
    1. No
    2. Yes
    3. Yes
    4. Yes
    5. The community would embrace a church that practiced this kind of selfless, authentic love. They would see that they really did practice what Jesus taught and preached rather than isolating themselves from those they did not feel comfortable being around. I pray that Walnut Hill will become such a church.


  8. Thanks for the comments so far, folks.

    I am curious, since language appears to be a repeated theme for a few of you. Maybe a new stream of conversation might be: What makes some words good and other words bad? Is it a Biblical or cultural value?

  9. Thanks for sharing. My comments to the quesitons:
    1 Theologically sounds? I hope our desire is to not leave the story there. Warm and fuzzy doing a nice thing 1 time and making sure people know we do it for Christ. Are we willing to build a relationship with her? Willing to not just see her saved, but truly become a follower whose life is changed as she grows in the gospel of grace. Concerned about blaming our sin on others. Agree that environment can feed the sin, but we all need to “own” our sin, see our need for the savior and repent.
    2.Example move you? Challenged. Need to be willing to go where he leads, not just where I am comfortable.
    3.Jesus’ approval? Jesus and his disciples lived this scene out on a regular basis so yea, I think he would not only approve, but be joyful.
    4.Would you want to be part of a chuch that does things like this? Yes but as noted earlier ned to go further and be a church that is committed to loving ongoing nrelationships.
    5.Community around you respond to a church that does things like this? Yes.

  10. While of finding our pastor, elders, or deacons in a diner at a birthday party for prostitutes at 3:30 in the morning would certainly be quite odd from a cultural point of view. We are required to love those that God loves, even when it is uncomfortable socialy. Who are we trying to please, our fellow country club members, or Christ? We better find a way to follow Christ if we are to fulfil his commandments on how we should live.

  11. Because the issue has been raised, for those who may be sensitive about it, I thought I would respond the question of language used in the video.

    Since Barbara (comment 7) asked the most specific question, I will start there. Barbara asked if it is showing the love of Christ to call the woman a “whore” or “ho” (as it was abreviated in the post title)?

    First I think we need to be clear about the word, which is a specific word found in the Oxford Dictionary. (See: http://www.referencecenter.com/ref/dictionary?query=whore&invocationType=tl1clk&flv=1) It is not a slang word,, but part of the English language. (There is no need to elaborate on the definition.)

    Second, as Campolo uses the word in this video it is merely descriptive, and accurate. A parallel might be for a dog breeder speaking of the female dog… there is a specific word that is appropriate in that context but not appropriate when applied to others. (Again, no need to elaborate.)

    Third, the problem with the word Campolo used (as well as the Dog Breeder word) is not with the proper usage, but when it is commonly used as slang and applied to persons – usually to women – to demean & devalue them. It is the demeaning intent that is inappropriate and ungodly, not the word itself. Using these words in the demeaning fashion is, I believe, a violation of both the 7th & 9th Commandments. (See Westminster Shorter Catechism Q. 70-72 & 76-78.)

    Let me give an example of inappropriate and demeaning usage of this very word that many people will remember. When Howard Stern called members of the Rutgers Women’s Basketball Team “Ho’s” when they played Tennessee for the NCAA Championship a few years ago, that was inappropriate and offensive. Stern used the word in a way that in no way accurately applied to those young women. They were athletes, not whores. His usage therefore was not descriptive, but pejoritive and demeaning.

    Now, in the video, Campolo was merely using this word to describe this woman. His usage is consistent with the proper definition and, while it is sad, she met the description by her actions and profession. Campolo is clearly not trying to demean her. In no way does he judge her. The whole subject is how he acted out of Christ-driven and Christ-like love to elevate her, even if only for that moment, from her demeaning station in life. The final discourse, and the reason he tells the story, is to tell about how Christ transforms and makes all things (and people) new.

    So, to sum it all up, I don’t think that Campolo referring to this woman as a whore is in any way lacking the love of Christ. (And NOTE, he didn’t even demean her by calling her anything to her face.) I do not believe his usage was inappropriate. And i am not sure what other word he “should” have used. The word, properly used, is neutral. BUT I think he clearly showed the love of Christ in that he “loved” her despite herself, despite what she was, and took steps to show her a love she had never before experienced.

    Finally, I want to renew my invitation to a side conversation: What, in your opinion, makes words bad or good? Are some words inherently Christian” and others inherently “un-Christian”? or Does context, application, and intent matter?

    I’m curious about this because I suspect what we think about this also reveals something about what we believe about the Gospel. (I am not sure what it reveals, but I suspect it reveals something.)

    Anyway, my apologies to any who still feel offended.

  12. Awesome! I cried from the heart and eyes while this man spoke. I have never heard of him, but I think he has the heart Jesus wants us to have.
    Thank you Dennis for the introduction of this clip it proves to me that there are some men that love people with a Godly Love no matter what the Pharisees might think. We must decrease so that Jesus will increase.

  13. This video was brought to my attention in the Sunday School class. We were asked some questions about it. “Would we attend a church that did this?” My ans.wer was yes and that I myself would go and to the resturant or where ever.
    And about the language that was used- I don’t find it offensive-It is what it is. If we use a different name does it make it not sound sooooo bad or does it make us not feel as bad about saying it. It is not poltical correct, but like I said, It is what it is. Sometimes there is no sugar coating needed. For the most part I am not good at sugar coating things. I am better than I used to be, however some things need to be said and yes sometimes I need to keep my mouth shut.
    Yes-I do believe that Jesus would do this and that we are to futher his kingdom. We as Christians are to love those that are not so loveable, how else are we to reach them?
    Thanks for sharing the video Dennis and thanks to David Alexander for a great Sunday School class. You are a blessing!

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