Tony Campolo, Jim Walllis: The Marxist Delusion and a Christian Evangelist

By David A. Noebel<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

        I have just finished reading Tony Campolo's book Letters to a Young Evangelical. Published by Basic Books and copyrighted by Campolo in 2006, this work gives the reader an amazing look into the mind and heart of a radical sociologist on a mission-to establish the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Kingdom of God on earth. The cannon fodder for establishing this Kingdom is the poor, the wretched, the oppressed, the naked, the downtrodden, and the proletariat. The chief tool to bring about this Kingdom is "progressive politics" (3). Its Mein Kampf is Jim Wallis' God's Politics. Indeed, Jim Wallis is featured on the jacket of Campolo's book with this statement: "Tony Campolo is my favorite evangelist."

        Campolo's volume is a veritable love-fest among three leftwing Evangelicals-Campolo and his two partners in crime (the crime being deception): Ron Sider (Evangelicals for Social Action) and Jim Wallis (Sojourners magazine), whom he calls his "best of friends" throughout the book. All three subscribe to the same party line-liberal, leftwing, allegedly progressive, ideas that impact social, economic and political action. "I believe," says Campolo, "that Christians should engage in efforts to change the political and economic structures of our society because these structures do not adequately address the needs of the poor and oppressed" (4, 5, 258).

        The purpose of Campolo's letters to two young evangelicals (Timothy and Junia) is to convince them that the "Religious Right" in America is their sworn enemy, and if they wish to get serious about God's business, which is assisting the poor and oppressed to bring in the Kingdom of God, they must reject the Jerry Falwells, the James Dobsons and the Tim LaHaye's of the conservative wing of Evangelicalism and stake their claim with the true "progressives," namely the Sider, Wallis and Campolo camp. This camp will bring forth the Kingdom of God on earth in spite of the constant foot dragging of their non-progressive, conservative, Evangelical counterparts.

        Campolo conveniently forgets to mention, or else does not know for himself, that the baggage he asks these two young, naïve evangelicals to carry with them in bringing about the Kingdom is simply a plethora of failed radical ideas and agendas that make impossible any and every effort to establish that Kingdom-- unless, of course, the Kingdom of God is a socialistic "paradise" something on the order of a Stalinist farming collective or Moscow under Brezhnev. Those horrors, and not Campolo's airy utopian dreams, are what his ideas repeatedly yield, and to where they inevitably lead.

        Campolo has renamed his leftist camp "the Red-letter Christians." (7,8) ("Red" indeed.) By this moniker Campolo means that his camp is seeking to put into practice the Sermon on the Mount, which is all in red letters in his Bible. What this name implies about the book of Acts or the letters of Paul, Peter and John is not exactly spelled out. Campolo, for example, never quotes Acts 5:1-4, probably because there the concept of private property is favorably mentioned. Campolo is, at heart, an anti-capitalist (142). So are Sider and Wallis. So are the liberation theologians.

        Relative to his two young readers, Campolo's position is summarized quite frankly and forthrightly: "There was no question in our minds that in the struggle for justice, God sides with the poor and oppressed against the strong and the powerful. For the first time, these students understood liberation theology, and they supported it-if by 'liberation theology' we mean the declaration that in the struggle to end injustice God sides with the poor and oppressed against their oppressors" (265.)

        So much of Campolo's book is decidedly ambiguous, one might even say it is flatly contradictory -- not simply when he talks about ethics and public policy, but even when he talks about himself. He claims to be a Fundamentalist and not to be a Fundamentalist; to be pro-life and not to be pro-life; to be anti-gay marriage and not to be anti-gay marriage; to be conservative and not to be conservative; to be anti-capitalist and not to be anti-capitalist; to be liberal and not to be liberal; to believe in universal salvation and not to believe in universal salvation; to denigrate America's middle class values and to admit being middle class himself; to hate the rapture and not to hate the rapture; to despise dispensationalism and to really despise dispensationalism. One is reminded of Luther's exasperated assessment of Erasmus: He is a slippery eel only Christ can grab.

        This litany of contradictions masquerading as profundity is merely window dressing for Campolo's real objective-to persuade the next generation of evangelicals to jump on the Wallis-Sider-Campolo bandwagon and to get serious about furthering the Kingdom of God via leftwing, radical politics. This is the heart of the matter. This is the heart of Campolo's book.

          Campolo reveals his leftism when he openly advocates "liberation theology" (265). But liberation theology has been the gateway constructed by leftwing theologians like Moltmann, Bloch, Freire, Metz, Gutierrez, Bonino, Schaull, Lehmann, Alves, Assmann, and Miranda to bring Christians straight into the Marxist socialist revolution, as if Marx or Marxists really cared about the poor and oppressed, or ever succeeded in elevating them from poverty.

In point of fact, of course, the Marxists, their leftwing theologians, their apologists, and their socialist hangers-on created more poor and more oppressed than the world has ever witnessed throughout its entire existence. (This is not to mention that communism oppressed and persecuted Christians by the millions!) Yet Campolo and his leftwing fellow travelers never once even mutter these shocking historical facts. They don't admit what Jose Miguez-Bonino admitted: Liberation theology "can help overcome religious opposition to communism."

For those young evangelicals who need to read up on this point, we suggest an afternoon with The Black Book on Communism published by Harvard University Press, a book Campolo does not mention. In fact, given that his Red-letter crowd played such an important historical role in fooling American Christians about the true nature of communism, while at the same time insisting that being anti-communist was sinful and that anti-communists were somehow "forces of darkness," I wonder if either he or they ever read that important book.

They seem actually to believe that anti-communists were more to be feared than the communists themselves -- in spite of the fact that communists were slaughtering tens of millions of human beings worldwide. Mao alone slaughtered 70 million Chinese! Stalin slaughtered even more human beings! (See R. J. Rummel's Death By Government) And Campolo selectively forgot to mention the fact that Wallis conducted a "prayer" meeting following the death of Leonid Brezhnev and "asked forgiveness for anticommunism" and opined, "if we could not call Brezhnev a peacemaker, we could at least recognize him as a moderate man, a man open to reason."

To get a handle on what is really before us, and to see exactly where Tony Campolo is going, we must go back to the summer of 1989 and to the publication of a twenty-eight-page document entitled "The Road to Damascus." This publication was distributed in the United States primarily through the efforts of Jim Wallis and his Sojourners organization in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the document was to enlist Christians to help Marxist/Leninist efforts to consolidate Leftwing governments in at least seven nations. All signers of the document were Leftists from these nations-the Philippines, South Korea, Namibia, South Africa, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala.

The thrust of the document was to paint communism as the true representative of a Christian theology that "sides with the poor and oppressed" and to condemn Christians who side with the rich and oppressors of the poor. The "good people" in this struggle are the proponents of liberation theology, while the bad people are the Christians who oppose Christian Marxism. To make certain that the point is not missed the document identifies anti-communist evangelicals as "members of the forces of darkness." Good Christians are portrayed as pro-communist while anti-communists are Neanderthal, non-progressive, conservatives.

Lest you think that this is just ancient history, I direct your attention to the National Association of Evangelicals Toward An Evangelical Public Policy, published by Baker Books (2005) and copyrighted by Ron Sider and Diane Knippers. Its first chapter, entitled "Seeking a Place", makes it very clear that anti-communism "was largely an exercise of destruction" and that Jim Wallis of Sojourners is where the true Christian action consists. And this despite the fact that Wallis was pro-Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. Wallis actually referred to those seeking to escape from the ravages of communist Vietnam after the war as persons bent on feeding "their consumer habits in other lands." Wallis' response to the Cambodian Communists' slaughter of two million men, women, and children was to deny the bloodbath. Compassion for the poor and oppressed brought on by communism does not enter into the leftist playbook. Leftists have compassion for the poor and oppressed only when they can, however implausibly, blame capitalist America. Shame on the NAE!

According to Wallis, "As more Christians become influenced by liberation theology, finding themselves increasingly rejecting the values and institutions of capitalism, they will also be drawn to the Marxist analysis and praxis that is so central to the movement."

Tony Campolo does not quote Wallis on this point because he knows that if he were to do so the contest for the two young evangelicals would be over in a heartbeat. Communism and socialism produced the poor, the wretched and oppressed of the 20th century; not America! In truth, America was one of the major liberating factors of the 20th century, liberating millions from the chains of Fascism, Nazism and Communism. But America's role as the world's greatest liberator of the poor and oppressed is not trumpeted in the writings of Campolo, Sider or Wallis. Rather, Campolo refers to America as a "whoring" Babylonian entity (226, 227)!

Campolo happily instructs his two young evangelicals that Stalinist Fidel Castro "readily testifies that his revolutionary ideas came from his childhood training in Jesuit schools" (76). Campolo likes the Jesuits (30, 31), and seems to want more of their revolutionary schools in the U.S. He fails to tell his two prospective recruits how Wallis and his Sojourners magazine have consistently fronted for Communist Cuba. "Sojourners magazine," said Lloyd Billingsley, "may be the last devotee of this [Castro] regime in the entire Western world." Campolo's "Red-letter" sojourners view the world through a Marxist lens, and all they can see is that "its America's fault!" To them, there would be no poverty in Central or South America if it weren't for the greedy, capitalist Christians in North America. "The religious left," says Billingsley, "makes a point of defending Third World Marxist regimes and attacking the United States and Western Europe."

Campolo's young targets need to read Salvador Mendieta's The Sickness of Central America, published in 1912 wherein they will discover the unvarnished truth of the matter. Mendieta's thesis is that the poverty of his Nicaragua was present long before the first North American ever set foot in Central America. Central and South America's poverty is not America's fault, but rather the fault of a number of factors-statism being a major contributor, along with immorality and deception. Octavio Paz, put it like this, "We lie for pleasure…The lie has a decisive importance in our everyday life…The political lie has gotten imbedded in our countries almost constitutionally…We move in the lie with naturalness."

To his credit, Campolo wants to help the poor. To his credit again, he admits that Christians on the Religious Right also want to help the poor. (4) Indeed, he admits that when it comes to "social ministries those on the Religious Right excel in financial support and volunteerism" (4). But he wants the U.S. government to further tax America's rich and give these confiscated proceeds to the poor (140). He doesn't say how this should best be done, and he doesn't seem to know that so much of these monies end up in Swiss banks or in the pockets of highly paid government administrators. Approximately 75% of all monies allocated to fight poverty ends up feeding the huge bureaucracy set up to fight poverty. It isn't that the U.S. government hasn't spent enough money; it's that the money has been spent counterproductively. Ronald Nash and Thomas Sowell insist that we could raise every poor person in the U.S. out of poverty in one week and reduce the budget for the programs by 75 percent simply by eliminating the huge bureaucracy that stands between the poor and the federal treasury.

Put plainly, helping the poor is more than a transfer of North American monies to South American slums! Campolo (and plenty of conservative Christian young people would join him) needs to go into these slums with the Bible, the Christian gospel, Christian morality, Christian education, business skills (capitalism and its respect for work, private property, etc.), and then perhaps he will see results. But armed with his hand-me-down-Marxism, he never can.

Campolo needs to apologize to the Christian community for misdirecting evangelical young people into the jaws of the Jim Wallis, leftwing, pro-Marxist, pro-communist, pro-socialist propaganda machine. Sojourners magazine, along with Wallis' association with Richard Barnet and Marcus Raskin's Institute of Policy Studies, has been a steady mouthpiece for Soviet-style politics for years.

Richard Barnet was a contributing editor of Sojourners. In a detailed Accuracy in Media Research Report dated May 1983, Joan M. Harris lists over 50 topics (e.g., Christianity, anti-communism, Liberation Theology, Socialism, Revolution etc.) affecting the Soviet Union and its drive for world domination. On every issue Sojourners magazine and the Institute of Policy Studies sided with the Communist cause. There were no exceptions. Harris concludes with two telling thoughts: "Not one Marxist-Leninist country has ever been criticized by Sojourners for human rights violations, for repression or torture;" and "To reach the Charismatic/Evangelical movement and turn it in the opposite direction in the 1980s, into the Marxist line, is clearly the purpose of Sojourners." This should have been no surprise because: (a) one of IPS's directors for its international branch was "a paid Cuban agent," and (b) IPS was heavily funded by the Samuel Rubin Foundation, and Rubin was a member of the Communist Party.

Brian Crozier, of the London Institute for the Study of Conflict, wrote as far back as 1979 that the IPS was "the perfect intellectual front for Soviet activities." Wallis certainly knew this and Campolo should have known it. If Campolo did not know what Wallis and the IPS were up to, he should not be writing books luring evangelical young people into that kind of subversion. His efforts are ignorant, evil, or both.

Tellingly, Campolo closes his book with the story of a young "former Evangelical Christian" (260). According to Campolo, this young lady committed her life to "social-justice causes." She sided with the "leftist radicals" (261) and in the process became a "former Evangelical Christian."

She was led into the leftwing, revolutionary abyss, thinking that fighting poverty by blaming America, fighting poverty by blaming conservative Christians, fighting poverty by pro-communist revolutionary methods (like killing the landlord and placing everyone on state farms) was the wave of the future and the proper battle plan to erase poverty and oppression, thus establishing the socialistic Kingdom of God. She never realized that to combat social evil one's greatest weapon is the gospel of Jesus Christ, which gives human beings dignity as created in the image of God, and which gives us truth, morality and purpose in life. She knew nothing about what lifts humanity out of poverty. She knew only -- or thought she knew -- that poverty was America's fault because her leftist, radical, communist mentors told her so, and that lie was reinforced by the likes of Tony Campolo, Ron Sider and Jim Wallis. Shame on all three! When Tony says, "I myself claim no special handle on truth" (146), one can only nod consent.

Capitalism (the free and peaceful exchange of goods and services) has done more to abolish poverty in the world than all the leftwing, socialist schemes combined. None of this is found in Letters to a Young Evangelical. Therefore, let me close with an assignment for Timothy and Junia. After reading Campolo's book carefully, please spend an equal amount of time with P. T. Bauer, Equality, the Third World and Economics; Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism; Ronald Nash, Poverty and Wealth: The Christian Debate Over Capitalism; Robert Conquest, The Great Terror; Lloyd Billingsley, The Generation That Knew Not Josef: A Critique of Marxism and the Religious Left; George Gilder, Wealth and Poverty, Theodore Dalrymple, Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass, and Michael Bauman, Morality and the Marketplace.

        After such reading, I guarantee that few young evangelicals will join the Sandinistas in Nicaragua or Wallis' Sojourner's commune in Washington, D.C., which at one time their masthead flaunted the fact that "they held all things in common, while being allowed fifteen dollars a month spending money."

(Editors Note: Dr. Noebel is the president of the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade, Manitou Springs, CO 80829.)

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