You’re a well-known Evangelical Christian cleric, prof at a Baptist university, author, speaker. You want, expect, and groom your son to follow in your footsteps. Only he doesn’t: he becomes, instead, a secular humanist chaplain; why, The New York Times labels him “a rising star of atheism”. Understandably, you two are at loggerheads.
That’s the true story, in a nutshell, of Tony, the true believer, and Bart Campolo, one which they share, so honestly, in alternating chapters in their book, Why I Left, Why I Stayed. “Our family has struggled,” they write in the preface, “but we haven’t stopped talking—or caring.” So, no, they may not any longer understand, but they do accept each other’s views. It’s as one reviewer affirms, “Rarely are questions of faith genuinely debated with the kind of sincerity, insight, and compassion presented in Tony and Bart Campolo’s thoughtful new book.”
And, really, they’re not so far apart: If I didn’t believe that there’s love and justice waiting for us after death, Tony writes, I’d despair; and Bart, after insisting that any “benevolent presence” now feels “like an imaginary friend,” admits, “I’m still very much attracted to the idea of a good and loving God.”
Why I Left, Why I Stayed: Conversations on Christianity Between an Evangelical Father and a Humanist Son, by Tony & Bart Campolo, HarperOne, 2017