April 8, 2013

Tony Campolo, Dennis Rodman and North Korea

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By Mark Tooley (Follow on Twitter @markdtooley)

Liberal evangelist Tony Campolo has outdone basketball diplomat Dennis Rodman by urging President Obama to meet with North Korea’s boy dictator. Rodman after recently visiting the communist police state had merely urged Obama to phone Kim Jong Un. North Korea, which is now possibly nuclear armed, and likely has the world’s most oppressive regime, of late has been threatening war against South Korea and the U.S.

“We need to find ways to make friends with North Korea,” Campolo is quoted as saying in CHRISTIAN TODAY. “If your enemy hungers you should feed him, if he’s naked you should clothe him. Those are Jesus’ words. Can we really overcome evil with good or was he being unrealistic? The question is: how seriously do we take the scriptures?”

Over the last two decades, the U.S., South Korea, and other countries have shipped billions of dollars worth of aid to North Korea, rescuing their people from routine government caused famines, and trying to bribe the regime into abandoning its nuclear weapons program. North Korea remains as impoverished and belligerent as ever, perhaps learning that belligerent threats earn rewards.

According to Campolo, “Jesus’ words make it clear: before you go to war, do your best to meet your enemy and see if peace can be maintained.” He seems to cite Luke 14:31-33:

31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

This parable is primarily about sinners contending against God, not geopolitical counsel. But even accepting Campolo’s interpretation, the U.S. has been seeking “conditions for peace” from North Korea for many, many years. A presidential meeting with the North Korean boy dictator would almost certainly only legitimize and encourage him.

For good measure, Campolo also wants the U.S. to disarm: “If we want our enemies to dismantle nuclear weapons we should show them we’re serious – by dismantling our own. I contend we cannot expect others to do what we are not willing to do ourselves.”

Never mind that a disarmed U.S. and ensuring power vacuum would encourage dozens of North Korea wannabes, or their likely victims, to launch or accelerate nuclear armament.

Campolo claims he’s only espousing the sort of U.S. foreign policy that Jesus would espouse: “It’s dangerous to take Jesus seriously but those who are not willing to live dangerously in his name ought not to call themselves his disciples.” Campolo’s blog is REDLETTER CHRISTIANS, which typically elevates the words of Jesus in the Gospels above the rest of Scripture, distorting context.

By God’s grace, the U.S. is not governed by persons with Campolo’s absurdly naive and profoundly unbiblical mindset. Governments are divinely ordained to protect their people, not “live dangerously.”

During his feckless term as U.S. Secretary of State, tee totaling and pacifist William Jennings Bryan was chastised for needing more grapeshot and less grape juice to undergird his diplomacy. But even Bryan probably would have more spiritual shrewdness about North Korea than Campolo.


7 Responses to Tony Campolo, Dennis Rodman and North Korea

  1. ericvlytle says:

    Campolo in his senescence is so desperate to appear hip and cool that I won’t be surprised if he starts wearing a baseball cap turned backward, with baggy denim shorts and his boxers exposed. How sad to see this guy, whose books were so influential in the 1970s and 80s, making a spectacle of himself. We expect Dennis Rodman to act like a clown, but a theologian? Did Campolo stop believing in heaven and decide he better get his 15 minutes of fame before he is put to bed with a shovel?

    Memo to Professor Campolo: “turn the other cheek” did not mean “let nut case dictators do as they please.” Jesus was speaking to his individual disciples, not to heads of state.

    • Marco Bell says:

      Ericvlytle,
      I don’t know the Bible well enough to defend my point, but I would imagine that Jesus meant what he said, whether it was intended for (just) his Disciples, OR any Head of State. It is effective strategy either way.
      That’s why I could never understand why President Bush would never agree to talk with Saddam Hussein, or for that matter, to Iran’s President Ahmadenijan (sp?). Talking is the first order to understanding ones enemy. I think it was just an ego thing with Bush.

      • ericvlytle says:

        Thanks for admitting you don’t know the Bible well. I had figured that out already. Lack of knowledge doesn’t seem to deter your zeal in chastising people who DO know it well. The secular world seems to be full of biblically illiterate people who feel a compulsion to tell Christians just what is or is not Christian doctrine and behavior – rather like my plumber telling an opera company how to stage a show, except he wouldn’t attempt that because he knows nothing.

        As a liberal, you have the usual naivete about the power of words. Just pour some coffee, sit down with the tyrants, make chitchat, and everything will turn out just fine. Welcome to planet earth, where sitting down with Ahmadamnnutjob might make the Dems in Congress glow, but accomplish absolutely nothing. People like him, Hussein, and all the other despots find American liberals to be “useful idiots,” as the nabobs in the Kremlin did. Simply put, you don’t appease dictators. It doesn’t work. When they see weakness, they exploit it – several thousand years of human history confirm that. The best way to maintain peace in the world is for every nation to fear attacking every other nation. Switzerland, tiny though it is, understood that they could not maintain their neutrality stance unless all able-bodied males owned weapons and knew how to use them. Even Hitler held off from attacking Switzerland.

        Jesus didn’t come to earth to tell governments how to cope with dictators, since, after all, he did say “My kingdom is not of this world.” The Sermon on the Mount is a life manual for believers, but the religious left has no concern for individual believers, only for collectives, so they try to apply it to politics, and that was not Jesus’ intention.

  2. Marco Bell says:

    “…By God’s grace, the U.S. is not governed by persons with Campolo’s absurdly naive and profoundly unbiblical mindset. Governments are divinely ordained to protect their people, not “live dangerously.” Words of Mark Tooley.

    But Campolo quoted the Bible!!!!!!! That makes it un-biblical??

    So how is it that when someone espouses the words and philosophy of Jesus, they are met with mocking ridicule for being naive, yet when the US sends drones OR soldiers to kill people in foreign lands, it’s considered doing God’s work?!

    This is messed up logic, and doubtfully very Christian or Christ-like….Jeeez!!!

    • raybnnstr says:

      In the account of the temptation of Jesus, Satan quotes Scripture 3 times. So, yeah, you can quote the Bible and be unbiblical. Liberals do it constantly. Instead of exegesis – determining what the text really says – they do eisegeis – making the text say what they want it to say.

      No one said that sending soldiers to foreign lands is “God’s work.” It appears you can’t argue with what someone actually says but have to project your own ideas onto them.

  3. We’ve BEEN feeding N. Korea. Every time they cross a line to upset folks, we make a deal to give them food, money, fuel, etc. if they just won’t do it again. Then, when they’re in need again, they cross the line again… and the whole cycle starts over again. Campolo either doesn’t know this history, or he’s ignoring these facts.

  4. […] Tony Campolo, Dennis Rodman and North Korea (juicyecumenism.com) […]

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