Tony Campolo, professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pa. and author of 35 books, spoke at this year's MacVittie Lecture Series.
The lecture focused heavily on an emerging group of evangelical Christians who he termed "Red Letter Christians." According to Campolo, the idea behind being a Red Letter Christian is following exactly Jesus' words, which used be printed in red in older versions of the Bible.
Campolo, whose fields of expertise include a variety of religious, social and political issues, also stressed the idea that fundamentalists should not automatically be classified as politically conservative.
Campolo discussed how fundamentalism and evangelicals became associated with the political right in a relationship he called "troubling." Campolo, along with several other prominent evangelical ministers, has pursued an agenda of social justice and has claimed to believe that his values are not incompatible with political issues.
"We believe that as Christians our main duty is to help the poor," said Campolo. "There are 2000 Bible verses that call on us to minister to the poor."
He also lamented the lack of aid provided for those under the poverty line by the United States government. "We barely give four tenths of 1 percent of our GDP towards helping the poor of the world," he said. "As a Christian, that's unacceptable and I believe we have to do something about it."
Campolo also touched upon several other social issues, including abortion.
"I find it hypocritical to overturn Roe v. Wade and then not address the issues that push poor women into having an abortion," he said.
He also expressed his feelings about gay marriage. "They say that marriage is a sacred institution and I completely agree, so why is the government getting involved?" he said. He called for a European solution where the couples would be afforded all the rights as heterosexual couples but it would be up to the churches to decide whether to marry the couples.
Campolo enhanced his lecture by using jokes and Bible quotations to reinforce his message to an audience of about 150 people from the college and surrounding communities.
Reverend Beth Godfrey, from the Central Presbyterian Church in Geneseo, is the chair of the lecture committee. "We decided on Dr. Campolo because we believed that he would be interesting to the students as well as the faith community in Geneseo," she said.
The Livingston County Coalition of Churches sponsored the lecture.