Bart Campolo and the Cross of Christ
When John the Baptist sees Jesus approaching at a point early in the Gospel of John he declares, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” The sacrificial lamb John was referring to was first required by God as a sacrifice to save his people, the Israelites, as he brought judgement on the nation of Egypt. Exodus 12 says that as death passed through the land taking the first born, he would “passover” the houses of the Israelites whose doorpost had the slain blood of a perfect lamb.
The whole scene was a foreshadow of Jesus, the perfect lamb, being slain and his sacrifice being the requirement for judgement to “passover” us. For years I have heard two views on the crucifixion. Some people believe that the Jesus is the Son of God and His sacrifice on the cross was the perfect love offering reconciling us to a God whom, through our sin, we were estranged and those who didn’t believe Jesus was the Son of God; that the whole story was nonsense.
Lately, I’ve been seeing a new group emerge.
Those that claim Jesus as the Son of God but believe the sacrifice of Christ was not orchestrated by God at all (or if it was, it was ancillary to other, more important, goals). I recently saw a video clip by Bart Campolo (son of famed minister Tony Campolo) where this view point is explained.
The disappointment I found in this clip was that some valid elements of the Grace of God that Mr. Campolo brings to the table are diluted by his rejection of the Cross of Christ being the focus of the mission. The intricately crafted plan that God lays out from Man’s first sin in the garden is sidelined in favor of basically what Mr. Campolo would do if he were God. Which is simply forgive…without sacrifice.
Paul the Apostle promised that the cross of Christ would be a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks, and in watching the video I’m still unsure what view Campolo leans toward but it certainly seems like it is a distraction to what he views was the central mission of Jesus which is the messages on love and forgiveness he taught before his crucifixion.
The problem with that is scripture, as a whole, is like a beacon pointing to the cross of Christ. The Old Testament prophets declare its going to happen, the Gospels share how it happens, and the Epistles exclaim, “Wow, look what happened!” Paul even says in 1 Corinthians 2:2that he is “resolved to know nothing…except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Again, its a shame that the wonderful truths of Christ’s message on grace and forgiveness that Campolo so lovingly demonstrates is diluted because he creates a false dichotomy by presenting them as an antithesis to judgement and sacrifice. Somehow in this equation love becomes antagonistic to justice. Whereas I believe the cross is so focal to the Christian faith because it is there that love and justice, judgement and grace, and sacrifice and mercy converge in one beautiful act of redemption.
Here’s to increased dialogue on Grace and Forgiveness…but rooted in the Cross!
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