Tony Campolo’s surprise reaction when his son became a humanist


Bart Campolo decided he was no longer a Christian after being injured in a bike accident in 2011. But he waited until last Thanksgiving to break the news to his father, Tony, an influential evangelical leader and author who is famous for having been a spiritual adviser to former President Bill Clinton.

Following the family dinner, Bart sat his parents down and explained that he was now an agnostic humanist. His father’s response was surprising.

“You know me. I am not afraid you’re going to hell because the God I believe in doesn’t send people to hell for eternity for having the wrong theology,” Tony responded, according to Bart. “I’m sad because Christianity is my tribe, and I liked having you in my tribe. ”

Looking back now, the elder Campolo said he doesn’t remember what he said, but describes the conversation as “upsetting” and “traumatic.” Even though Tony says he believes in hell and “Jesus is the only way to salvation,” he won’t speculate on his son’s eternal destiny.

“I leave judgments in the hands of God," Tony said. "I don’t know what’s going on in Bart’s heart or mind or soul. I have faith in God and I have faith in prayer, and I have confidence that this thing is not over until it’s over.”