HOLY WEEK…………..One of the most exciting things we can do in life is to celebrate.  The front page of the Gazette Times captured well the emotions of the Beaver players when they found out they were in the NCAA Tournament.  Eyes were wide open.  Their mouths were open and hands were raised in the air.  I guess you could say that when you celebrate you don’t really worry about what you look like–you let your hair down!

The Christian Church captured the idea of celebration long before the NCAA tournament did.  Holy Week is the highest point of the year and gives us great reason to celebrate.  Please attention to each item that you receive as you come to worship at Peace this week.  On Palm Sunday you will receive a palm branch–the ancient symbol of victory.  On Maundy Thursday you will receive the body and blood of Jesus–an eternal gift of love from our Lord.  On Good Friday you will receive a nail–Jesus has taken away your sins.  And on Easter Sunday, you will receive much more than pieces of candy–you get the empty tomb.  All we can do is celebrate!

God’s blessings in your celebrating this week.  Hopefully we can add a Beaver win into the mix.

PALM SUNDAY………..Worship at Peace at 11 am.  Special guests, Dave and Sabra Horn, will lead us in our Palm Sunday worship.

MAUNDY THURSDAY…….Worship at 7 pm.  Our focus will be on the Lord’s Supper with communion to be received by family.

GOOD FRIDAY.………..Worship at 7 pm.  This will be a special prayer service with great attention given to the nails that placed our Lord on the cross.

EASTER WORSHIP.……….Worship at 10 am with the Easter egg hunt to follow at 11:15.

PORTALS OF PRAYER………..The new Portals of Prayer devotionals are now available at Peace.  The daily devotionals are located on the table by the double doors entering the sanctuary–large print copies are also available.

ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL………….Recently, Bart Campolo, son of the well-known evangelical pastor Tony Campolo, told his father that he was no longer a Christian.  He had, he said, become an agnostic humanist.  This started an on-going conversation between father and son about the divergence of their beliefs.  This news gives us an opportunity to consider our reactions and actions when one of our children or some other loved one departs from the Christian faith.  Class starts at 9:45.  See you then!

Bart Campolo, Former Christian and Son of Famous Evangelical Pastor, Is Now Humanist Chaplain at USC

In the News

Tony Campolo is a nationally known pastor, author and speaker who became one of several spiritual advisers to President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. His son Bart had followed him into the ministry, but recently, the younger Campolo told his parents that he no longer believed in Christ. He had, in fact, become an agnostic humanist.

An agnostic believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God. Humanism is a system of thought that centers on humans and their values, capacities and worth.

While the conversation was a private family matter, Bart Campolo’s “deconversion” made news earlier this month when he became the humanist chaplain at the University of Southern California, one of only a few such positions on U.S. campuses. (USC has chaplains representing 90 religious and spiritual traditions, but Bart Campolo is that school’s first humanist chaplain.)

Tony Campolo is a sociologist and Baptist pastor who, though considered “progressive” on social and political issues, describes himself as “evangelical” in theology. He says that the conversation in which his son “came out” to him as a humanist was “upsetting” and “traumatic,” but according to Bart, his father said, “You know me. I am not afraid you’re going to hell because the God I believe in doesn’t send people to hell for eternity for having the wrong theology. I’m sad because Christianity is my tribe, and I liked having you in my tribe.”

The elder Campolo has since said, “I leave judgments in the hands of God. I don’t know what’s going on in Bart’s heart or mind or soul. I have faith in God, and I have faith in prayer, and I have confidence that this thing is not over until it’s over.”

Despite their theological differences, the father and son remain close.

Bart, who accepted Christ during his high school years, says that even then, he was not drawn by Christian theology, but by the sense of community and the shared commitment to love people, promote justice and change the world.

Bart became a pastor and was involved in inner-city ministry, but he says his movement away from the Christian faith occurred in stages. “It wasn’t until I exhausted every option for staying a Christian that I gave it up,” he said. “My Christianity had died the death of a thousand nicks and cuts.”

Commentator Rob Asghar, writing in Forbes about the younger Campolo’s move from Christianity to humanism, said, “In one sense, he is the same person he has always been, fighting for the welfare of the sick and the poor. But he is now agnostic, in stark contrast to his legendary father.”

Asghar added, “In his new role, [Bart Campolo] will offer encouragement to many like-minded people seeking meaning and purpose; and he will outrage or scare the pants off millions of people with whom he no longer shares a religious identity.”

While Bart now acknowledges his agnosticism, he says he has little in common with angry, militant atheists who belittle religion and mock those who are religious. He said he wants to create a hopeful humanist community that even Christians will be able to see as valuable. He calls it “a church for people who don’t believe in God.”

“One thing I learned from Jesus was that if you want to gain your life, you have to lose it for the sake of the gospel,” Bart said. “I may have a different gospel now, but I want to give my life to it. I still have good news to share.”

Tony and Bart are now coauthoring a book, tentatively titled, A Painful Dialogue Between an Evangelical Father and His Agnostic Son.

More on this story can be found at these links:

Tony Campolo’s Surprise Reaction When His Son Came Out as a Humanist. Religion News Service
Bart Campolo’s Heretical — and Liberating — Leadership Journey. Forbes
On Bart Campolo’s Deconversion … and Why We Can’t Blame His Father. Christianity Today (may need subscription to view this article)

The Big Questions

  1. When a grown child of Christian parents leaves the faith, who’s responsible? Are the parents in any sense to blame? Why or why not?
  2. What sort of relationship ought Christian parents and their grown child have after the child has renounced the faith? Why? When a family member or someone else we love leaves the faith, what sort of conversation should we try to have with them? Why?
  3. Campolo Sr. describes himself and his son as being of “different tribes” rather than facing different eternal destinies. Campolo Jr. talks about a “church” of people who still are pretty much like he always was, but without believing in God. What do you think is the difference between renouncing the faith and joining another “tribe” or group with the same basic value system but without belief in God?
  4. What part of your own testimony or experience might it be good to share with a grown child who is no longer persuaded by the Christian faith?
  5. If you’ve ever departed from the faith, how did your parents react? How did you approach your parents to say you were not going to be a part of their church, if that is what you did? How did members of your family approach you? What is the right way, in your opinion, to share this information? What is the wrong way?