Former National Council of Churches chief Joan Brown Campbell, in her sermon at Chautauqua today, urged that Christians reject the “exclusivity” of their own faith. And in today’s published interview with the Chautauqua, NY newspaper, Campbell reiterated Christians should not aspire to win other people to Christianity.

Campbell is retiring after 14 years as director of religious life at the famed, originally Christian retreat center, which she celebrated has become more interfaith under her direction. Chautauqua originally began as a Sunday school training camp for Methodists.

“Most compassionate congregations in the world are Muslim,” Campbell said, touting the interfaith “Charter of Compassion” organized by British religion historian and syncretist Karen Armstrong. Campbell urged: “We are called to a compassionate Christianity,” that embodies “Jesus’ dangerous dream” that “we all might be one.”

Campbell was citing the Gospel of John 17:21, which says: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”

In Campbell’s reinterpretation, this scripture is not Christ’s call for the church’s unity under His Lordship but for global unity because it “relates to all of humankind.” She urged a “Jesus not owned by Christians but Who cares for all. An embracing Jesus.”

According to Campbell, “Jesus says there will be one flock… No one is in or out in the world of Jesus.” She heralded this “challenge to Christian exclusivity” and insisted of humanity, “We are one. We hold all people as precious.”

Campbell insisted this “call to inclusive Christianity” is not a “call to discard the faith of our ancestors.” Instead, “You will reach out and embrace all of God’s own.” Quoting Desmond Tutu, she rhetorically asked, “Who will be excluded?” She explained: “Because we are Christian…we embrace the one.”

“God cannot be contained in our own religion,” Campbell said. “It’s not easy. We as Chautauquans have said we want to be a compassionate interfaith community.” She approvingly noted that Karen Armstrong is “calling us to a radical new understanding of who we are as Christians, to give up our exclusivity.”

But Campbell insisted: “We don’t have to give up the strength of Christianity.” Instead, “We will need to be the best Christians we’ve ever been. The world belongs to one God of history.”

In her Chautauqua newspaper interview, Campbell explained that her 14 years at Chautauqua “have changed me.” She said:

To say that the 2 p.m. lecture is now interfaith and to understand what that means has had the most influence on my faith journey. I think it is the responsibility of a Christian not to take his or her faith and say, “This is for everyone,” but to honor the faith of others, to believe that their faith means as much to them as mine does to me.

This is hard for Christians, because we remember the call to go into all the world and make Christians of everyone. We can no more do that today than we can fly to the moon. We have come to believe that we are not responsible for converting the world, but to be fully and completely Christian.

Campbell celebrated:

I am very proud of Chautauqua. It is in the board minutes that we will spend the next 10, 15, 20 years learning to be interfaith; not just Christians, Jews and Muslims, but open to all faiths.


36 Responses to Former Church Council Chief Urges Christianity to Abandon “Exclusivity”

  1. Tim Vernon says:

    The RCs make their bishops retire at 75, don’t they? Can’t the liberal churches do something similar? This woman was an embarrassment when she was head of NCC, and age hasn’t improve her any. Anyone who interprets Jesus’ words about one flock to mean that everyone in the world will be saved ought to be banned from ever speaking in public.

    She lives in a very tiny world. Maybe in HER world people can no longer evangelize, but churches are growing by leaps and bounds in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. For someone who regards herself as a sophisticate and cosmopolite, she seems clueless about the vitality of Christianity around the globe. It isn’t being spread by people like her, obviously.

  2. Chuck Donovan says:

    Just for the record, we can fly to the Moon. We did. And our astronauts read to the nation from the book of Genesis as they did so. Oddly enough, with our faith as a people weakening, we lose our ambition and our humility alike, our sense of both the Great Commission and the kind of suffering servanthood that can lead people to Christ. Being Christian is no easy voyage, and it appears it is about to get much harder as moral and theological relativism enjoy their heyday. Those who see this happening must first have their own unity in order to see each other through the coming crises.

  3. Robert Webster says:

    I guess Jesus’s words recorded in Matthew’s gospel and often asserted as the Great Commission mean nothing to her.

    Rev Dr Robert Webster

  4. Timothy Fountain says:

    A sad old traitor maintaining a traitor generation’s narrative.

    I will not deny Christ to appease people like this.

  5. Marilyn says:

    In our local UM Church, we were told by our pastor that we shouldn’t hit people over the head with the claim that Christ is the only way. At least that is how I understood it.

    • Adrian Croft says:

      That was thoughtful advice. Apparently most UM churches follow it, because few of them are adding any new members, or even retaining their old ones. Just as a general rule, if a person’s faith means something to him, he will talk about it. If it’s not important, then he won’t. So essentially the mainline churches are made up of people whose faith is a trifling thing. Naturally people like that won’t “hit people on the head.” So the church becomes a gathering place for the semi-demi-religious, a polite little club for the bland and lukewarm and vapid and blase.

  6. Daniel says:

    What a dhimmwit :-)

    • tom rogers says:

      “What a dhimmwit :)

      There’s that Christian love and acceptance that we’ve all come to know and…see it for what it is; hatred of other, and divisive means to further your hateful message of “Us vs Them”.

      • Tonestaple says:

        There is no church more exclusive (opposite of inclusive, not “high-tone”) than Islam. If you don’t buy their five pillars, you are not a Muslim. Period. End of discussion. And there is no way that Islam will bend to accommodate Christian belief. To claim otherwise is patently delusional. Further, this woman’s belief in proof-texting is another reason she should not be taken seriously. She likes to quote all this stuff about being one, but completely ignores “I am the way, the truth, and the light and no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”

        What I really don’t understand about people like this is why they want to still be Christian since they don’t seem to like any of the basic premises o the Church.

      • Ray Bannister says:

        That is a very slanderous accusation. “Hatred of other”? Who are conservatives hating? We are trying to stay true to Christ and his teachings, which, last time I checked, was the definition of “Christian.” This Campbell woman made it plain that Christ’s Great Commission is no longer binding. In short, her word is supposed to override the clear mandate of Christ. So who is being “divisive” here? The ones who think Christ ought to be obeyed, or those who think Joan Campbell received a revelation from God that canceled the Great Commission? If you think she is right, you’re sure according her an authority that she does not deserve. It’s rather obvious that the religious left is creating the “Us vs Them” mentality that you refer to. We are told by the left that we are reactionary fools for trying to follow Christ.

        In your comment of 34 words, 2 contained “hate,” which is about average for any post for a liberal. Conservatives have grown accused to the left’s rather generous use of “hate,” so rest assured it doesn’t rankle us too much. Good luck with your secular church, it is in decline and shows no signs of revival. Perhaps instead of getting angry at the right you might examine the reason for the left’s decline.

  7. Pastor Tim says:

    So how would Ms. Campbell interpret Jesus’ very own other words where He claims to be the “only” way to the Father? It appears that Ms. Campbell is exclusive herself in only choosing the words of Jesus that appeal to her agenda, rather than trying to embrace the entire message of Jesus…..she is entitled to her view, certainly, even as skewed or short-sighted that veiw may be.

  8. Didaskalos says:

    Quick, someone needs to tell Jesus that Joan Campbell has changed His role as Savior.

    Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John’s Gospel states unambiguously, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

    Jesus says only those who have put their faith in Him are part of God’s family that John 17:21 speaks of: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”

    Joan Campbell says everyone’s in.

    Tough one. Do we believe Jesus or do we buy Joan Campbell’s snake oil?

  9. Greg Paley says:

    Go to the National Council of Churches website and click on “History,” and you’ll find this statement: “The membership and scope of the National Council of Churches has evolved over the past 63 years.” Talk about euphemism. Membership “evolved” to the point where the NCC could no longer afford to remain in its NYC headquarters. Ever notice how liberals like Campbell manage to “spin” membership loss? It’s OK that we’re losing members, because everyone is going to get saved anyway.

    • Adrian Croft says:

      I did click on that page. On the NCC home page, however, I found a reference to the “murder” of Trayvon Martin, despite the fact that George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder, which I guess means the NCC knows more about the matter than the State of Florida does. You can see why evangelism got shoved aside by these people who feel the compulsion to comment – stupidly – on every current event.

      • Sasha Kwapinski says:

        Any references to the murder of the 80-plus year old WWII veteran in Washington or of Chris Lane, the Australian athlete, in Oklahoma?

  10. Donnie says:

    The phrase “The Church of Christ Without Christ” comes to mind.

  11. Neil says:

    There are over 100 passages affirming that Jesus is the only way to salvation (It isn’t just John 14:6). You can only miss it if you try, or if you don’t read the Bible. No one claiming to be Christian should any other view. This is just more evidence that the NCC went apostate long ago.

  12. cleareyedtruthmeister says:

    Alternate title:

    “Former Church Council Chief Urges Christians To Avoid Christianity”

  13. Roger W says:

    Ms. Campbell appears to have fallen away from the doctrines of faith of the Bible and the Church. In Hebrews Chpt. 6: 4 – 6, tells of people who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift but fell away; they crucify Jesus afresh. Also, Christians are to have a distinct identity from false religions and secular ideals and thoughts. Christians are supposed to be the overcomers of the world in deed and in the word.

  14. Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

    Ah yes, Joan Campbell, the former National Council of Churches (NCC) leader who was forced to make a public apology back in 1993 when the NCC was exposed as a shill for the Soviet Government after Communism fell. They refused to defend the Orthodox Christians and other dissidents trapped in the Gulags.

    Her definition of exclusivity back then was Christians always wrong, their always critics right. The NCC she led invariably embraced any ideology laced with utopian promises and sprinkled with a few words from the Christian moral vocabulary. Looks like not much has changed. She needs to disappear like the NCC has.

    • Ray Bannister says:

      Apparently she hasn’t changed much. It was assumed in the 1970s and 1980s that Communism was the winning side, so the mainliners cozied up to it. Now in the 21st century they cozy up to Muslims. Notice a trend? If there is an aggressive anti-Christian force in the world, side with it.

      Don’t they call that “cowardice”?

  15. Sod Buster says:

    Thank God, literally ‘Thank God’, IF and that is a real big ‘IF’, this lady is NOT spreading ‘her gospel’ of syncretistic inclusion.

    Thiugh The body of Christ is made up of many different and diverse members from every tongue and tribe and nation, there is only one Head and HE is One JESUS?

  16. Nikolaus says:

    Can Joan – or anyone for that matter – provide any proof of her assertion that “most compassionate congregations in the world are Muslim?”

    • Ray Bannister says:

      I think it would be much easier to prove the opposite, but being on the left involves a large amount of illusion. When she shuffles through the airport carrying her shoes in her hand, perhaps she forgets why boarding a plane has become such a tedious procedure.

  17. Jeremy Long says:

    Maybe she and retired Episcopagan bishop Spong could liven up their golden years by taking their road show around the country, call it “We Believe in Nothing, and So Should You.” That oughta pack the pews.

  18. DJS says:

    Now you need to do an article about how Desmond Tutu Is too inclusive.

    • Ray Bannister says:

      They have, and he is. We have no right to be more inclusive than God is. Not everyone will be saved. Sorry if that upsets the left, but it’s quite clear from Jesus, who spoke about Judgment as well as love.

      Did the left decide that it needed some new gods? They seem to deify abstractions like Inclusivity, the way the pagan Romans did with Justitia and Pietas.

  19. Word News says:

    Years ago I interviewed Cambell several times. The NCC seemed to support sending Elian back to Cuba.
    At the time of Clinton’s impeachment the anger was focused more on those who held him to account for his actions rather than his actions.
    I just wanted to comment and praise the high caliber of comments from readers of this story. Wonderful commentary.

  20. Rev. Dr. Russell Gary Heikkila says:

    Regarding Ms. Joan Brown Campbell, I can only think of Dr. R. G. Lee’s famous sermon, “Payday, Someday!” May God have mercy on her soul. Unless Ms.Campbell repents, the loving and merciful Savior that she rejects today will one day be he Judge at at the Great White Throne Judgment.

  21. Bro says:

    A line from Mere Christianity comes to mind. “Stop talking damned nonsense!”

  22. Chuck Braun says:

    I used to jokingly refer to the mainline Protestant churches such as the United Methodist Church into which I was baptized, and the (sic) Evangelical (sic) Lutheran Church in America, as “antichrist churches”. Now as a member of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, there is no humor left.

    In an age where the Roman Catholic Church has a catechism which states that “those of all religions who seek to do good will be saved”, at least the RCC still claims to believe in the Virgin Birth, substitutionary penal Atonement and bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ, second Person of the Trinity made fully man while fully God.

    Those who will suffer the least eternal woe will be those who never heard the name of Jesus; those with the sorest fate will be Christians who disowned their Lord and Savior. And to deny His own words of identifying Himself as the only Way, Truth and Life, is to disown Him as Who He has made Himself known.

    Ms. Campbell, Jesus can forgive you. You are ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. Since you deny Christ before men, He will deny you before the Father unless you return to the Lord your God. That the Holy Spirit would bring this lost woman back into the Good Shepherd’s fold, should be our earnest prayer for both her and the many others so blinded by Satan. Lord, have mercy…

  23. Charlottheelian says:

    Chatauqua itself illustrates the way in which mainline Christianity (of which I am a part) has evolved away from the central mission of Jesus reflected in the Great Commission. It began as a Methodist camp to strengthen our Sunday Schools, was eventually captured by “open-minded” Presbyterians, and now is a haven for what’s-happening-now. Poor, pitiful Ms. Campbell – a witness and testimony to the demise adn irrelvancy of the NCC.

  24. Propheteer says:

    Didn’t Jesus ever warn humankind of “false prophets” and to maintain vigilance for same?

    I wonder how Ms. Campbell defines the breed?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>