Do you think it’s possible to have certainty in your beliefs while also being respectful of people who believe differently?

How do you respond to Bart identifying Christianity as his brand?

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Bart Campolo is the founder of Mission Year and is the leader of a local ministry in inner city Cincinnati called The Walnut Hills Fellowship.


16 Responses to “Christianity®”

  1. jim says:


    Thats what I signed up for

  2. Benjamin Ady says:

    I think Bart might make the list =)

  3. Julie says:

    I have tried to live in the same way Bart spoke of in respecting other’s beliefs. I live in a very intellectual city where Christians are thought to be ignorant and completely biased. A friend that I have had for 10 years recently told me she could no longer be friends with me. We have spoken many times about our different beliefs and agreed to disagree on many issues. I thought we had a loving friendship of acceptance and the ability to interchange ideas freely. Then she told me what really got her was that in my belief system the bottom line is that I believed she was going to Hell. I wasn’t sure how to respond to that. It made me think. Is it really possible to believe in a God who provides “one way” through Jesus Christ and to truly be able to accept others that don’t believe that? How do we live day to day in loving relationship with one another?

    • joe says:

      Julie. I tend to try not to imagine people going to hell as I don’t find it very helpful. On the other hand it is hard not to want the best for people, particularly when they are obviously broken.

      People sometimes have a problem with us (more often for things they think we believe than what we actually believe) unfortunately this is a fact of life. It seems to me the only solution is to try to be gentle, try to not be condemning, try to look for the best, to be encouraging, to be the best possible friend. We’re going to fail at that, and maybe a person will take offence at whatever we do. But it isn’t impossible for people who believe totally different things to be friends – if they really want to look beyond the label and get to know the person. And accept sometimes they might be wrong too.

  4. joe says:

    The problem is: how do we intellectually define love outwith of God and how do we emotionally define God’s love outside of our experience.

    Intellectually, calling God ‘Love’ is a circular argument – because if God is the creator of all things, our understanding of what love is comes from God. We are defining someone by the the thing that person defined. The hope is that God would still be defined as loving outwith of himself, were it possible to observe him from a neutral position.

    Emotionally we can call God loving when we have everything we need and more. But just looking at the ‘stuff’ we have is an unreliable measure of God’s love to us. Then the notion of God’s love becomes an exercise in self-love for those who have too much and some kind of perverse crutch to those who have much less than they deserve. The hope is then that God’s love is far greater than the tiny box we’ve put him in which relates his ‘love for me’ to ‘what I have’. The hope is that he really cares and is waiting to pull the rabbit from the hat for all those who are obviously unloved.

    And quite a lot of the time, that hope seems very wispy and unlikely.

  5. Julie says:

    It wasn’t that I had ever said “Oh, and by the way God sends everyone to Hell who doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ”. I really did try to be in connection with this friend and did not express my beliefs in a space of condemnation or indifference. I also tried to genuinely understand her beliefs and be open to experience along with her in some things. I listened to Deepak Chopra, watched “What the Bleep do we Know”, and sat in quiet meditation in a session with her spiritual guru. I drew the line when she wanted to do Tarot readings for me. A little too much outside my comfort zone.

    Now that I think about it I was willing to experience her stuff but she would never reciprocate and go to church with me. I think you may have hit the nail on the head when you said that she “might not be willing to admit she could be wrong”.

    It could be a whole bunch of things from her past or it could be that I really did make her feel uncomfortable. Anyway, I still love her and pray for her. My heart hopes that our friendship will be restored.

    Anyway, thanks for responding to my question.

    • joe says:

      Julie, she just sounds like someone who only wanted friendship on her terms. maybe there wasn’t anything more you could have done.

  6. Craig says:

    Julie & Joe – great comments, thanks for sharing!

    I can really relate to the part about both parties needing to be willing to admit they could be wrong. I think it’s really cool Julie that you were willing to explore different areas of spirituality with your friend. It’s too bad she wasn’t willing to reciprocate. I definitely think it’s possible to navigate difference like this and learn from each other. But yes, both people need to flex a bit.

    Anybody out there have any friendships where you are able to navigate difference? Why do you think it works?

  7. Benjamin Ady says:


    I wonder why your friend thought that you thought she was going to hell? I can imagine I would have trouble being friends with someone if I sensed that they thought that about me, no matter how kindly they acted.

    I think you asked a really interesting question about exclusivity claims and ability to accept/embrace others. It seems to me that if the exclusivity claim is saying that some people are in the club, and some aren’t, and you have to do or say or think x, y, or z to get into the club, and being in the club is better than not being in the club, then of course it is not going to be possible to be fully present with/accepting of the people outside the club, when one is a club member.

  8. Julie says:

    My conservative family and friends have expressed their concerns for my spiritual well-being because I choose to “explore” what’s out there. For me I know I am solid in my relationship with Jesus and it doesn’t feel weird for me. I don’t want to hunker down in my Christian community and not be aware of the rest of the world.

    In thinking further about my friend she grew up in a Southern Baptist Church and may have transferred what she knew about Christianity from that perspective on to me. I like your expression of this concept about being a club member. I have often wondered how it works for my youngest sister. Her husband is Indonesian and he is a devout Muslim. She is a Christian and follows her faith. They have been married for seven years and love each other deeply. They are both respectful of each other’s choices. I wonder though if they ever have kids if that will change things in how the kids are raised. For now, it seems to be working.

  9. Benjamin Ady says:


    Wow, sounds like your sister and her husband have an amazing story =). A couple years ago I met this beautiful lady named Ann Redding who had been led by God to practice both Christianity and Islam at once. She was an amazingly gracious, self aware outgoing person, and it was really a privilege to converse with her for a while.

  10. Dan says:

    I do think its possible. I wonder, though, if this question is being looked at from the non-Christian perspective. What I mean is, is it possible for someone who believes something starkly different from Christianity to respect a Christian’s beliefs? Sounds like an unimportant question in light of the many Christians who berate others with their beliefs, but I have met people who think Christianity is equivalent to sheer stupidity. I think it is this style of arrogance that hurts others, from both directions. Can’t we have confidence in something without being a jerk about it or acting like we have it all together? I really like Bart’s position, and that he seems so comfortable with it. I believe it ought to be this way. That if we do believe something, we are offended to talk about other possibilities even while we may completely disagree with them. I go back to Justin’s comment on the blind men and the elephant.

    • Kerry says:

      Hi Dan,
      I am agnostic, but really enjoy reading this website and learning other’s views from the videos. I also just had a really interesting conversation with a pastor at a wedding last weekend. Of course it is possible for someone who believes something starkly different from Christianity to respect a Christian’s beliefs. However, as someone who believes something different when it comes to respecting another’s beliefs (whoever and whatever the other is) I appreciate the openness of conversation around topics, the dialogue that things like this forum and website give me rather than very conservative “I’m right and you’re wrong” views and dead ends that other Christians give me.

  11. Benjamin Ady says:


    I think it’s fairly safe to say that yes, there are some amazingly self-aware, wise, gentle, gracious Muslims and Jews and … really people of any faith, as well as atheists, agnostics, and Pastafarians, who are willing to continue to choose to work within their faith system while being also willing to respect and dialogue about others’ faiths. In fact some of my favorite people are people who have helped me become more willing to do this myself.

  12. Elaine says:

    Wow! Yes, to everything Bart said. How is it I live in Cincinnati and have never met Bart??? Craig – is there a Bart mailing list?

    Do you think it’s possible to have certainty in your beliefs while also being respectful of people who believe differently?

    That is the challenge, isn’t it? Whether it is my belief in Jesus as the Son of God or anything else – I have to ask myself is this belief life giving? If not, why not? Is this belief putting me in conflict with others? If so, why? My belief in God in of itself does not put me in conflict with others – regardless of their brand (or lack thereof).

    If I choose to impose my beliefs on others then I can be in conflict with other people.

    (Yes, I realize I’ve made some rather broad brush strokes here.)

    For me, I choose to embrace – Love God and love others. If I’m doing those 2 things, how can I be in conflict with others?

    BTW – for me – respect means, “unconditional high regard” – it is not predicated on another believing the same as me. When I don’t do that, it is my problem.

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