Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Sacrificial service, not power politics, produces credible authority in the marketplace of ideas

In his book Red Letter Christians, Tony Campolo draws three distinctions that so-called "evangelical" Christians, weary of right-wing power politics, can make to move toward a more responsible, biblical approach to politics. Drawing on the scenario painted in Isaiah 65 and the words and actions of Jesus (those "red-letter words"), Campolo invites folks to choose to place (1) issues over party, (2) authority over power, and (3) knowledge over ignorance.

I especially appreciate his invitation to think and act with authority, not power. Authority comes through authentic service, not arm-twisting, name-calling, division-building, self-righteous power mongering. I like the following statement Campolo makes:

"I contend that Christians will only have authority if they first serve the needs of others in sacrificial ways, especially the poor and oppressed. When those who hold power witness how Christians live out love--meeting the needs of others and binding up the wounds of those who have been left hurting on society's waysides--Christians will earn the authority to speak. When Christians sacrificially give of their time and resources to run soup kitchens for the hungry and provide shelter for the homeless, they gain the right to be heard. When they tutor poor children and care for those with AIDS, they expand their mandate to call for change...Sacrifice gives them the ability to be taken seriously by those who seem to be in control of political machines."

In the spirit of dialog, I welcome comments and/or questions. Click on "responses" below to post. They're moderated only to reduce incivility.

1 comment:

  1. Good part of the book. I think I actually focused on this authority vs. power in my paper a little bit. Thanks for coming to my soccer game, maybe next week we will have subs and put up a fight.


Your tasteful comments and/or questions are welcome. Posts are moderated only to reduce a few instances of incivility.