The word “love” is mentioned 508 times in the NIV version of the Bible. On Sunday, February 20, 2011, at PromiseLand West Church in Austin, TX, in front of a congregation that was estimated to be around 1,000, Dr. Tony Campolo mentioned the word himself as if he were a man possessed by it…himself. With a heavy dose of enthusiasm, passion and straight-from-his-heart conviction, he spoke endlessly of God’s love and grace. Mix in a healthy dose of his “Good Fellas” East Coast accent (How ya doin eh?) and easy-to-follow, knee-slapping, every day humor, and you have a man who, at the age of 76, hasn’t lost his ability to grip an audience.
His resume is impressive: 35 books written, speaking tours to 11 different major cities in the United States under his belt, speaking engagements in 5 foreign countries, a doctorate degree, his own ministry organization…the man has seen his fair share of successes. And wouldn’t you know it; the man would rather talk about his Italian background growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the fact that “Even if there wasn’t a heaven or hell, I’d still be a Christian.”
Dr. Campolo’s overall message was of God’s love for us and how John 1:12 states very clearly that if we have received Jesus, we call ourselves His children. Consequently, we are to “Love at any given moment.” After all, that is our mission and the greatest commandment: Loving people into the kingdom. However, he offered a stern dose of reality: “We’re all Christian up to a point.”
Brutal honesty? Sure. But it was a message that connected with the audience. “With Dr. Campolo, you get total honesty. He’s the real deal. There’s no plastic,” said Karen Steele, an interior designer and regular attendee at PromiseLand West. “I’m tired of fake. Give me the real deal.”
For a man who has been expelled from national conferences for his words and has been widely criticized by the media for what has been deemed as his radical and controversial views, Dr. Campolo responds to the criticism with remarkable honesty and understanding. “If you’re going to talk about Jesus and what he really said,” remarked Dr. Campolo, “It’s radical.”
When one considers his volume of books written, one can’t help but wonder which of his many works stands out to him as a personal favorite. “It’s always my last book, “replied the author with a playful smile.
Among his future endeavors is to make sure his ministries around the globe are substantially supported and that his army of up-and-coming authors and speakers (40 in total) are correctly mentored as part of his ministry project, Red Letter Christians. For more on this, you are cordially invited by Dr. Campolo to visit their Web site at www.redletterchristians.org. For a closer look at Dr. Tony Campolo’s ministry, go to www.tonycampolo.org.