I was saddened to read that Bart Campolo, a once dynamic preacher and the son of pastor Tony Campolo, has “lost his faith and now preaches about how to live happily without God.”
Wow. Talk about missing the boat…
Secular Humanism is the belief that humans can be good and do good apart from God. But all secular humanists fail to understand one thing: There’s a difference between goodness and righteousness.
Sure, you can be good apart from God. People do it all the time. So do many animals. You can even be happy without God. People do that, too.
God isn’t about emotions. He is holy. Fellowship with God, who is holy, requires righteousness, freedom from sin, and there’s only one way to obtain forgiveness from sin.
“…our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” – 1 John 1:3
So how can this be if we’re sinful, if there’s such a thing as “original sin?”
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” – 1 John 1: 5-7
Ah… It’s the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, which purifies us from all sin. But “the blood of Jesus” is not merely a saying. The penalty for sin is death — OUR death — eternal separation from God.
The Old Covenant (binding relationship between God and man) required animal sacrifice for sin. Such sacrifice covered our sin as it was the sinner himself who performed the sacrifice. He was right there, before God, knowing and acknowledging in his heart the only reason he wasn’t dying is because an innocent animal had taken his place. That lead to a change of heart before God, one of contrition i.e. repentance.
In the New Covenant, Christ enters as the Son of God, the only sinless man ever, who took all our sins upon him and became the last sacrifice, a lasting sacrifice for all time.
So you see, sin still separates us from God. It still requires a sacrifice and a changing of our hearts.
“Oh, well, I don’t have to worry about that! I haven’t sinned in years!”
Really? Just saying that is a sin. Claiming that you’re good enough to get into heave is a sin. Claiming all paths lead to God is a sin. Claiming there is no God is a sin.
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” – 1 John 1:8-10
Again, it’s not about being good. It’s not about being happy. It’s about our relationship with God, which sin renders impossible. Only the combination of Christ’s sacrifice and repentant change in our hearts will cover our sin, restoring a right relationship between ourselves and God.
Gain, sadly, Bart Campolo focuses on charisma. He failed to focus on righteousness, which is not something you do, but rather, is something that comes with accepting Christ’s sacrifice on the cross with a contrite heart.
There was mention of “mastering all the tactics.” No doubt he’s mastered a whole new set of tactics — mental mumbo-jumo — to keep his mind from wandering back to the truth he left behind, if he’d ever really known God through Christ in the first place.
Salvation, being restored into a right relationship with God, has nothing to do with “tactics.” “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
Salvation is all about God’s love for you, what He and his Son did to cleanse you from all unrighteousness, and restore you into a right relationship — fellowship — with them.
Having said all that, can you be happy as a Christian? I, for one, have been far happier as a Christian than I was before I had Christ in my life. Then again, as I’ve previously stated, it’s not about happiness. It’s about righteousness, and there can be no righteousness, no fellowship with God without believing in Jesus Christ and repentant acceptance of his sacrifice on the cross from your sins. Before that point, there is only death. After that point, there is only life.