The Rev. Will Campbell died this past week at 88 years of age.
He was a civil rights activist, prolific author, disturber of the complacent, and even the model for a comic strip character.
Smoked a corncob pipe, drank his own home-brewed moonshine. He'd have fit in nicely at Next Level!
He was also theologically imprecise on some minor points, but he got the big ones right.
As the author Philip Yancey pointed out on his website this week Rev. Campbell was also the only (ONLY!) white man to join the group of mourners gathered at the hotel where the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed. Here's the haunting photo:
He was perhaps best known for his eight word formulation of the Gospel, developed in response to the question of an agnostic friend:
"We're all ba***ds, but God loves us anyway."
You can kind of fill in the blanks or, I should say, astericks.
Sounds offensive, doesn't it?
Until you read this:
"God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do and it gave him great pleasure" - Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)
In our natural state, we are alienated from God, NOT his children - sort of like ba***ds (not my words, but the Bible's!).
But God gives the life of His own Son to adopt us.
This is the very heart of the Gospel, and it changes everything.
We'll unpack this more tomorrow at Next Level Church - remembering the Rev. Will Campbell as we do so!