Rev. Dr. James Campbell

The Threshing Floor of the World

“Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?"  I said to him, "Sir, you are the one that knows." Then he said to me, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:13-14)


That reading was from Revelation 7:13-14.  I was raised on that fantastical image of white robes washed in the blood of the lamb, and many others images from the book of Revelation.  Revelation figured prominently in many sermons, church camps and Sunday School lessons.  And it was always interpreted literally, which was terrifying. 

Solus Christus

Did you know that there is a guaranteed way to get to heaven?  It’s called the “Sinner’s Prayer,” and if you say the words and mean them, you will receive a one-way ticket to Paradise. I was raised on this prayer and the theology behind it.


The Sinner’s Prayer is all about the words you say.  In order for it to be effective, you must say that Jesus died for your sins on the cross.  You must say that you accept him as your personal Lord and Savior.  You must say that you believe that he rose from the dead.  You must say that you believe you have been born again. And if you will only say all of these things, then heaven is yours.


My love of wonder and awe and majesty in worship started early – not in my dad’s church, but at Central United Methodist Church in Richmond, Indiana.  Central was sort of “Episcopal light.”  There was impressive stained glass and grand processions, acolytes and one of the largest pipe organs in the state.


The senior minister, Dr. Holmes, gave soaring, inspirational sermons that lasted exactly 15 minutes. In fact, everything was perfectly timed at Central.  The 11 am worship ended promptly at noon… week after week. At Central, everything was done with taste and decency, and you could count on it.

The Inequities of Grace

If you’re a good teacher, you can change a child’s life forever.  And if you are a bad teacher, you can change a child’s life forever. 


My family moved around a lot when I was growing up.  It seemed that my father, the Baptist preacher, was forever entertaining the idea of a new pulpit and new congregation. And I, for the most part, loved the adventure.  My parents used to call me the gypsy child because, they said, I was forever ready to go.  So when the announcement came that we were moving from Logansport, Indiana to Richmond, Indiana, I was thrilled (Go figure!).  There would be a new house, a new neighborhood and a new school.  And I would learn a brand-new lesson: “Be careful what you wish for.”