Stories That Feed Your Soul by Tony Campolo

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ViralBloggers was kind enough to send a copy of Stories that Feed Your Soul to me for review. I had always known Tony Campolo was a really good story teller and now I know why. He has a rich history of experience and memory for things that he is able to communicate the things he has been through in ways that touch your heart or really make you evaluate yourself in a healthy way. This book is divided into 8 parts:

  1. Freedom From Condemnation
  2. The New Life in Christ
  3. Intimacy With God
  4. The Call to Rescue Creation
  5. Living With Hope
  6. Praying In the Spirit
  7. God’s Plan for Us
  8. The Assurance We Need

Under each of these headings are dozens of stories that will impact you for the good. Some of the stories are from his personal experience. Others stories are ones that he is passing on from others. While that does get us back to the question of whether or not all the stories really happened (which is quite a valid question) they are still good stories for meditation. There are several stories that he specifically mentions not being able to personally verify (p.45 for instance) so it seems he did make an effort to do verification in some instances.

Then there are the stories. He shares stories from various stages in his ministry of things that impacted him and grew him. He tells stories about church life and lessons learned from other ministers. There are stories from his years in seminary and pastoral work. He tells personal stories from his childhood and stories about his immigrant parents. He shares a story about his arrest for protesting legislation in Washington D.C.. He tells the story of the Taj Mahal in India that was built as a burial place for a ruler whose wife had died. They were relentless in how they furnished the place and how extravagant the architecture was. Eventually, even the casket was removed in order to make the place an even better memorial to her as they made plans for how to make that spot in the building more beautiful. He asks if that is what has happened in some churches…we have built beautiful structures and spared no expense but forgot what it was built in the first place. Other stories aren’t really stories at all but are more like short devotional thoughts (p.73).

To sum it all up, stories are important in our lives because they embody deeper truths and Campolo has done just that in this book. He has told numerous stories, some like parables and others real and personal events from his life, that help us see below the surface of life to what is really important. I would highly recommend this book and even appreciate the way it is divided. No matter what season of life or place you find yourself there is something here that will be of help to you, lift your spirit, or draw you closer to God. I just wish Jim McGuiggan would put something like this together! If he has and I missed it please let me know.

0 Responses

  1. Why stories? They illustrate. They assist memory. They resonate with us emotionally. They help hold attention. These are just a few “off the top of my head” reasons we should tell stories.

    The stories we use help to shape our message, though, so we need to be careful of how we use stories.

    Jesus, the master teacher, used them constantly. We would do well to follow his example. In Acts, the sermons of the apostles are filled with stories from the history of Israel. In fact, some of the sermons simply recount the history of Israel (e.g., Acts 7 & 13 by Stephen & Paul). Even in the epistles, the stories of Israel are recalled – with a purpose!

    Why don’t more of our preachers use stories instead of “logic” to make their points?

    1. Because rational or spiritual worship is connected to LOGOS: the Word. God used Jesus as Lord and Christ as the personified WORD. The Rational discourse of God. Our thoughts are not God’s thoughts (Isa 55) and His are free. Christ forbids us to seek our own pleasure or speak our own words (Isa 58) on the new REST day which invites us to “come learn of ME.” A Christian is a Disciple: a disciple is a student: the curriculum is what Jesus “commanded to be taught.

      Christ promises spiritual regeneration through His Word. Church is Qahal, synagogue, ekklesia which were all for hearing information from a higher authority and discussing it. The Campbells caught on.

      Logos, verbal noun of lego

      Opposite kata pathos (experiences)
      Opposite music, poetry or rhetoric
      Opposite human reasoning
      Opposite Epagoge bringint in to one’s aid, introduction
      Alurement, enticement, incantation, spell

    2. Ken,
      You may have read more into my remarks on story than is there. Jesus used stories; Stephen and Paul used the story of Israel. They did not deny reason, nor were there stories mere rhetoric.

      Stories are effective. They hold attention. They draw us into the action. A good story has a point; it is not mere entertainment! Moreover, the story is open-ended – which is what our commitment to Jesus is to be as well. The value of a story is that it has something for all levels of spiritual maturity and discernment.

      Read the Psalms. Many of them are filled with the stories of God’s mighty deeds on behalf of His people! The prophets also tell stories – or live them! In fact, the Bible itself is one great epic story that God invites us to become involved in. Story speaks to our hearts in a way that logic alone never can. Leave logic and rational thought out? Of course not! But make the point with story.

      Here, I speak mostly of the story of grace and redemption in the Scripture itself. Other stories are a poor substitute for that!


  2. I understand your point but that was the task of Jesus: Christ in the prophets and the prophecies made more perfect by Jesus or “the prophets and apostles” is the foundation upon which the church is built. There is no other foundation.

    While the rest of the Old Testament is for our learning it is not for our imitation. Peter left us a “memory” of the eye– and ear– witness of the risen Christ by the apostles. He warned that that Christ-narrated material is not subject to private interpretation: that means “further expounding” which based on what LOGOS excludes.

    2 Pet 1:18 And this voice which came from heaven
    ….WE heard, when
    ….WE were with him in the holy mount.

    2 Pet 1:19 WE have also a more sure word of prophecy;
    ….whereunto YE do well that ye take heed,
    as unto a light that shineth in a dark place,
    ….until the day dawn,
    ….and the day star arise in your hearts:

    I believe that is the only “worship” concept: Paul commanded Timothy how to give attention to the (public) reading of the Scriptures with doctrinal explanation (of that text) and comforting with Scripture (Rom 15). That has been the historic understanding. That was what the Campbells taught. Then in chapter 2 Peter gave the reason for letting the word rest where it landed:

    2 Pet. 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people,
    ……even as there shall be false teachers among you,
    ……who privily shall bring in damnable heresies,
    …… even denying the Lord that bought them,
    ……and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

    Failure to do that makes preaching into an almost impossible burden and as Amos warned, the people hunger and thirst for the Word but cannot find it.

    It also give access to rhetorical and musical performers which leads us to the church on both wings of the institute bird.

    I celebrated marriage 54 this week and I go at it like an engineer and word definition and contemporary literature. If you think it important to define words as they were used when written you will be heart sick at the state of “scholarship” and the mega-institutes.

    Besides, if you “teach that which is written” (elders) and “that which is written for our learning” (even if you hallucinate singing in adult Bible Class) is much more exciting: I have added to my logos-mythos paper but not yet posted:

    LOGOS is Opposite Pathos A. that which happens to a person or thing, incident, accident, where this incident took place, unfortunate accident,
    2. what one has experienced, good or bad, experience
    II. of the soul, emotion, passion (“legō de pathē . . holōs hois hepetai hēdonē ē lupē” Arist.EN1105b21), “sophiē psukhēn pathōn aphaireitai”

    Sophia , A. cleverness or skill in handicraft and ar,t in music and singing, tekhnē kai s. h.Merc.483, cf. 511; in poetry, Sol.13.52, Pi.O.1.117, Ar.Ra.882, X.An.1.2.8,
    in divination, S.OT 502 (lyr.

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