Tony Campolo

October 31, 2009

I do not even know if I’m actually going to publish this blog. Tony Campolo’s talk was fantastic, and his words keep ringing in my ears (he’s an incredible speaker), but my notes are a mess! He said so much that was important and it was very difficult to keep up. Also, please don’t email/comment me to tell me that I don’t understand Einstein. I’ll say it right here–I don’t understand Einstein. I very nearly flunked physics in high school. I don’t understand science or time or space or matter. I just tried to take notes on what he was saying and I may have it all wrong. But it will be okay because as Dr. Campolo said last night, “God can make straight lines with crooked sticks.” However, I do apologize if my notes seem messy to you. They are messy to me.

Dr. Campolo talked about Einstein. Einstein changed everything with his theory of relativity and we’re still discovering the implications of that theory–even theologically. Einstein proved that there was something beyond time and space and matter and the universe is expanding.

In e=mc2, time is related to motion. At the speed of light, all time would be compressed into now. God is travelling at the speed of light. Therefore, for God everything happens simultaneously.

Campolo: “I believe in heaven and I believe in hell and I believe there is transcendance.”

Look at the cross. Jesus is fully human and Jesus is fully God. Jesus died at a particular point in time, but at that time he was God. God experiences all time simultaneously (“I AM that I AM”). Jesus is lamb and sacrifice AND he is God.

“When were you saved? 2000 years ago.”

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, he was contemporaneous with us. Because of this, when we surrender to Jesus, we are offered more than forgiveness.

“If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ” 1 John 1:9

Not just forgiveness, cleansing.

We are part of God’s eternal now. This is why Jesus cried out in Gethsemane. Jesus was absorbing the sins of the world in his body. Every murder, every rape, every lie, every unholy act. Jesus became sin.

Martin Luther: “Every time you sin, you pull a nail out of your pocket and drive it into [Jesus’] own hands.”

Romans 6:1: “What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means!”

Campolo: “Dare you sin and cause Jesus to agonize?”

It is the cross that drives us to repentence. And we don’t just receive forgiveness and cleansing. “Jesus absorbs our sin, cleanses us and imputes us with his righteousness.” Right here, right now, we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

This solves a lot of theological problems.

For example: what happens when we die? Do we sleep? Do we immediately go to heaven? Yes to both. When we die, time ceases and we are in the eternal now with God. At the speed of light, the time of our death and our resurrection are simultaneous.

Another problem: is everything predestined? If God knows what will happen before it happens, doesn’t that mean everything’s already planned? With God, there is no before and there is no after. There is only right now.

Paul Tillich: “God cannot be known. God can only be encountered.”

A great deal of our theology must be questioned because God is not a thing to be known, God is a person to be encountered.

Campolo: “The Bible was never meant to be a scientific textbook, but when it talks about science, it is right. I believe what the Bible says about time.”

Now is the most important point in your life. Now gives us a whole other way of relating to people.

We can know people physically.
We can know people psychologically.
We can know people in the intimacy of NOW.

Most of the time, we are not present. There are two things that keep us from being in the now with people. Guilt (when we are focused on the past and things that have already happened) and anxiety (when we are focused on things that have not happened yet).

If we encounter Jesus now, he will absorb the guilt and he will free us from the anxiety of the future. When we are free from guilt and anxiety, we can focus on the now.

Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly. We have this when we focus on the here and now. We need to focus on relationships. “I’ve never won anyone to Christ by winning an argument.” It only happens when a person connects to Christ in the here and now.

Campolo: “If I didn’t believe in heaven and I didn’t believe in hell (and I’ve already told you that I do believe in both), I would become a Christian for how the Holy Spirit frees me to have life and have it abundantly.”