Agreeing to disagree.

Author:Campolo, Tony
Position:Letter to the editor

Thank you for taking the time to read my book ("A Letter to Tony Campolo" by Jordan Hylden, February). Most of my critics don't do that. You are to be commended for your thoroughness and thoughtfulness.

As I criticized tendencies in the evangelical community to be chauvinistic, homophobic, militaristic, sexist, and hyper-nationalistic, I was not specifically lambasting conservatives. I find that my conservative friends are just as committed to overcoming these "appalling" tendencies as are my liberal friends. I find that the real difference between conservatives and liberals is not in their goals. I find that the goals of conservative Christians express just as much compassion and concern for justice as do those of my liberal friends. Neither end of the political spectrum has a monopoly on such things. I find that the real difference between conservatives and liberals is the degree to which there is belief that government can play a decisive role in such matters. Obviously, conservatives want to address these problems in ways that tend to minimize governmental involvement. Any indication in my book that truly Christian conservatives are not just as concerned about justice as liberals are may be a failure on my part. The methods for addressing such concerns are what create differences between us, but there is little question that we have common commitments to the realization of the values of the Kingdom of God on earth as they are in heaven.

You are quite right in pointing out that I not only make a strong case against gay marriage and against abortion but also carefully delineate the arguments from the other side. This is because most evangelicals have not considered that there are viable arguments that are alternatives to their positions. I tried to be fair and outlined both sectors with some degree of balance. If I failed, I'm sorry. I really did try to be balanced. Having declared what I believe, I thought it was best to reflect on both sides of these controversial issues. I find that so often my evangelical brothers and sisters do not listen to the arguments on the other side, and, hence, we end up with shouting matches, with people on opposite extremes condemning each other instead of listening to why their opponents believe what they believe. I think that dialogue requires that we understand both sides of every issue, and that's what I try to achieve in the book. If I failed to do that, it is a serious failure.

I wanted my book to be...

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