Re-Popularized Idea – Only Jesus’ Words Inspired
In coming across the idea, in conversation recently, that only Jesus words are inspired Scripture, I did some further research, having a recollection that Herbert W. Armstrong believed this, altho’ I haven’t been able to find any sources yet for this, but I did discover, or was reminded that a movement had been started about 15 years ago, called ‘Red Letter Christian’, not surprisingly, initiated by Tony Campollo, Sojourners editor Jim Wallis and Shane Claiborne.
Before diving into Tony Campollo’s ‘Red Letter Christian’ movement, I want to give some quotes from a Jesus’ words only proponent, (Red Letter Christian) revealing the attack upon Paul’s ministry and letters as uninspired in the least, and at worst anti-christ false apostle.
Dismissing Paul – Quotes From Red Letter Christian, Attacking Paul
Paul’s gospel is absolutely optional to follow and opinionated just like the RCC and Orthodox and Protestants are optional to follow.
God gave us the 4 Gospels and Book of Revelation after Peter and Paul died.
The Word of God was associated with the OT only – until Jesus arrived and became THE WORD so in essence JESUS IS THE WORD OF GOD, from God
Everything else in the NT outside of what Jesus Said is Words about Jesus from men figuring out themselves.
Matthew 7:21-27 should wake up all Christians
Obeying Paul vs Peter is optional
Obey the Pope or Orthodox Church leaders are a choice.
Obeying what Baptist or Pentecostal or SDAs or the other thousands of Protestant groups is a choice because they all mock and attack each other using the same Bible like Paul mocked and attacked Peter making himself the chosen one above everyone else.
Many professed Christians have never looked beyond what they’ve been told for opposition research.
The blind lead the blind.
That’s why there’s over a billion Catholics and hundreds of millions Protestants divided into groups who all disagree with each other using the same Bible.
Paul never shows love or respect for the Lords Apostles especially Peter so the true question is what ‘Christ’ did Paul meet in Arabia.
To follow Pauls gospel is purely a choice like being a Catholic or Protestant or Orthodox.
Being a disciple of Jesus is represented in what Apostle Peter and John said as well as the 4 Gospels and Revelation – is the true calling of the Church, Jesus stopped Paul from persecuting according to Matthew 28:18-20.
Paul has no witnesses for his gospel nor endorsement that he is the Gentiles apostle- Acts 15:7 shows this.
You are right about what Paul said and he never shows love or respect for the Lords Apostles especially Peter so the true question is what ‘Christ’ did Paul meet in Arabia.
To follow Paul’s gospel is purely a choice like being a Catholic or Protestant or Orthodox.
Being a disciple of Jesus is represented in what Apostle Peter and John said as well as the 4 Gospels and Revelation – is the true calling of the Church, Jesus stopped Paul from persecuting according to Matthew 28:18-20
An Explanation Of Paul Correcting Peter & Opposing Perspective
Paul called Peter out for hypocrisy as Peter ate w/ the gentiles, but when visitors from the church in Jerusalem came to visit, Peter distanced himself from the gentiles. Even Barnabas was caught up in it according to the book of Acts. The biblical authors don’t contradict each other, but Christians do differ on interpretation, with the end result being the many denominations.
Incorrect Red Letter Christian Comment–Twisting Meaning Of Scripture
After researching why there’s so much divisions among Christians using the same Bible I decided to research WHY – so I read all of Paul’s Epistles in one day and it was shocking to see what he actually said- and to know he did, become all things to all people and lied to some and suffered in his own sins- all we can respond to is the NT because the OT was already established – Your response about Paul calling out Peter is often misleading because of how its represented in Galatians. Lets consider: #1- Paul claims to be given his gospel privately (without witnesses) as he brags about not getting anything from the Lords Apostles too. #2- Paul mocks Peter outside of Peters presence and shows no love or respect as the Lords chosen Apostle (read John 13:34–35) Paul was in competition with Peter – like it is among the Protestants – #3- Very few want to talk about Paul being a witness to Acts 15:7 where Apostle Peter declares he was the one chosen for Gentiles (not Paul) and keep in mind they sent Barnabas with Paul in Acts 15 to add support to Paul and by the end of Acts 15 they separate in great contention and we never hear from Apostle Peter again from Acts 16 forward because Luke traveled with Paul and that’s all .
BTW: No one seems to care Paul had Timothy circumcised in the opening of Acts 16 knowing it wasn’t necessary and turned Timothy into his student of obedience. Following Paul is optional and divisive. Apostle Peter offered us more of a warning in the closing of 2 Peter than he did an endorsement to follow Paul. The 4 Gospels, Book of Revelation and 1John were all written after Apostle Peter & Paul died- There’s no connection whatsoever that Paul was told to rebuild the Church or redesign a new Church format, other than the Church, Jesus stopped him from persecuting – WAKE UP from man made religious opinions misleading many from what Jesus actually Said – Matthew 7:21-27
It’s clear here where the ‘Red Letter Christian’ is coming from, completely mis-reading what Paul has said and what is said about him. These are just a few of the incredible rationales used to disregard and disparage Paul’s ministry, writings and apostleship.
*>My response: Even tho’ Scripture itself opposes this view that Paul’s words were not the Word of God…“And because of this, we also give thanks to God unceasingly that, having received the word of God by your hearing from us, you accepted not the word of men, but even as truly it is, the word of God, which also works in you who believe.” 1 Thess. 2:13.
…The Red Letter (Jesus only words) response, twisted Scripture again.
I’ve heard both sides of the great debate and that’s why Apostle Peter warns us about people misunderstanding Paul’s words and twisting his words to their own destruction- like many already have however Apostle Peter never says follow Paul’s gospel or acknowledges Paul is the Gentiles apostle- Acts 15:7
Me: Yet even in the text of Peter, Red Letter refers to, Peter calls Paul brother.
“And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:15-16
There is no way that Peter’s words here can indicate anything but affirmation of Paul’s writings and ministry, even affirming Paul’s words as Scripture. __________________________________________
More response from Paul detractor:
I wonder what ‘christ’ Paul met while in Arabia? Afterwards Paul showed no love or respect for any of the Lords Apostles.
For the Record: We know Peter & John represented the same Jesus Christ they served but we don’t know if Paul met the real Jesus Christ while in Arabia – Matthew 24:4-13
IF YOU attack or mock or disrespect whoever disagrees with you then you have violated what Jesus Said in Matthew 5:43-46. This is what Paul did to the Lords Apostles
According to what Jesus Said, whoever speaks well about Him, should be left alone. Jesus didn’t say follow them (btw) This includes Paul’s gospel.
When we remove mans religious opinions ‘about’ Jesus, Paul’s gospel doesn’t tell the real truth about Jesus compared to Apostles Peter and John.
Beware of Paul’s Gospel because it’s his own and divides instead of Unites.
WE have no reason to believe Paul met the same Jesus in Arabia (see Galatians) that stopped him from persecuting the Church.
Jesus told Apostle Peter to build.
In truth; It’s best to stay away from what Paul said because after Galatians he never showed love or respect for the Lords Apostle’s especially Apostle Peter and I say this lovingly too based on what Jesus actually Said in John 13:34-35
I find it’s easier to lovingly fellowshipped with the Catholics, & Protestants, (like) Baptist, Pentecostals & SDAs etc. based on what Jesus Said, while they stay divided by religious opinions.
This final quote was re-quoted from another. Strong language against Paul
Interesting perspective from someone pertaining to Pauls gospel –
*Paul Curses Women
1 Corinthians 14:34-35: “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”
And 1 Timothy 2:11-12:“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”
These 2 verses have done more harm and pain and damage than probably any others in the Bible. It is so sad that Paul’s confusing opinions EXCEED the authority of Jesus.
These verses have no witnessing verses in the Bible, and therefore can not be considered scripture.
Many Bible teachers that I have read simply deny that Paul actually wrote those words. They say that wicked men must have added to the text afterwards in a cold and calculated way of placing their puny selves above women for the rest of the age. Or, the parrots in fine plumage utter some confusachrome about it being meant only for the people of that time, or age, or custom, or geography or era or epoch or some invented hog wash…
They will say anything to keep their power over women intact.
Paul was the Anti-Christ that the epistle writing Apostles warned were walking in their midst at that time, and he will return as either the Anti-Christ or the false prophet. It would not surprise me if Paul the Confused did in fact write these demented verses. He is the main enemy on earth against Jesus and His followers, and He wants only to confuse us and keep us from the narrow path that Jesus leads us to.
It also would not surprise me if Paul did not write it, but rather, it was inserted by his own followers, inspired by him. Paul freely admits to being “crafty” and willing to lie “for the gospel”. What a snake!! Paul can NEVER be trusted nor used to correctly comprehend spiritual truth.
These perspectives, this last one in particular, comes from quite a heretical source, in viewing their web site. And the other commentor, quotes the last. Rejecting the inspiration of Scripture, leaves one prone to further error, allowing for quite fanciful tho’ts. As mentioned, not all have done this, as we will see in part 2, yet the tendency, in practice, is to esteem the words of Jesus greater than the inspired words of God elsewhere.
Descriptions Of Parts 1,2 &3
Part 1 These quotes clearly communicated where many of the ‘Red Letter Christians’ are coming from, not reflecting all of course, but revealing the error prone rejection of much of Scripture. There are divergent perspectives on this view of prioritizing Jesus’ words. Some, as the above, clearly state that they believe Paul’s words were not inspired, and even question if he encountered a false jesus. Below, we will see, that Tony Campolo, even tho’ he says all Scripture is inspired, does not apply this perspective to his beliefs, even tho’ he says he gives priority to Jesus’ words.
Part 2 below covers the creation, description, motivation, purpose, (& true agenda), as well the many problems with the Red Letter Christian movement.
Part 3 will deal with the arguments against and for Paul’s Biblical ministry. It should be clearly evident, the twisting and reaching for every and any negative connotation possible to undermine Paul’s ministry, writings and life, who obviously hold that the Scriptures the global orthodox Christian church has rec’d, kept intact and reproduced from antiquity, is not the inerrant, inspired Word of God that the church claims it to be, but only the words of Jesus. Several different motivations, foci, and involvement can be evidenced in the following examination, (part 3) of living by the words of Jesus, a priori, as opposed to the entirety of Scripture. ___________________________________________
The logical – and theological – problem with Red Letter Christians
Posted 5 May 2020 Joel Looper has a PhD from the University of Aberdeen
“discover a Christianity that looks like Jesus again“
The movement called Red Letter Christians is just over a decade old, yet since Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne came up with the idea in 2007, it has quietly become one of the most influential forces in American Protestantism. Last year the movement expanded to the UK, and the group’s influence is increasingly visible in Australia. A look at the “People” tab at redletterchristians.org reveals a diverse group of influential evangelicals and mainline Protestants who, in Claiborne’s words, want to “discover a Christianity that looks like Jesus again.” Jesus, Red Letter Christians remind us, cared for the poor and the downtrodden. He called his followers to abandon materialism and love their enemies. He identified peacemakers and the merciful as the truly blessed ones. Too often, Red Letter Christians say, Christians today don’t even aspire to live a life like this — and the world has taken notice.
For Red Letter Christians, concrete political practices follow from these biblical truths. Loving our enemies, Campolo suggests, “probably means we shouldn’t kill them,” and so Christians should oppose war. Caring for the poor — something Christians have always done — might naturally lead us to advocate for expansive state-run social programs. Capital punishment should end too, since mercy is an identifying marker of the people of God — the way Christians are supposed to live in the world.
Many evangelicals, particularly younger evangelicals, have found themselves in agreement with these conclusions, and the Red Letter Christian movement has continued to gain steam with the support of influential voices such as William Barber, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Jim Wallis.
fundamental logical problem with the movement’s central claim – words in red ranked foremost to be read
Red Letter Christians have indeed done crucial work in reminding us of some of Jesus’s central teachings about the way his people should live. Nevertheless, there is a fundamental logical problem with the movement’s central claim, the claim that distinguishes Red Letter Christians from other evangelicals and many mainline Protestants. That claim is that we should rank the words of Jesus in the gospels — those that appeared in red type in many older Bibles — as more important than the rest of scripture, including the rest of the New Testament.
According to the “values” section under the “What is RLC?” tab, “the words of Jesus are authoritative” and they provide the lens “through which we understand the Bible.” In other words, if there seems to be a conflict between the words of Jesus and other commands or ideas in the Bible, Red Letter Christians tell us, it’s best to put aside Paul and Peter, Isaiah and Hebrews for the time being in favour of those words that are explicitly attributed to Jesus. “Jesus shows us,” Derek Flood writes, “that to be faithful means that we must question and think critically in love, rather than blindly adhering to scriptural precepts despite how hurtful they seem today.”
‘Red’ Path Ignores Eyewitness Testimony
On one level, this might sound entirely reasonable. Why not stick to the words of Jesus if we find ourselves confused or troubled? And what serious believer has not been confused or troubled by something in the Bible? But this way of thinking does not lead where many evangelical Protestants — perhaps especially those who faith has been shaped by a biblicist hermeneutics — might expect. If we take this path, we will end up ignoring the very basis for the claims of the New Testament about Jesus: eyewitness testimony.
It’s not hard to see why this is so. Those who followed Jesus during his public ministry spoke about and eventually wrote down testimony about Jesus’s life and teachings. Whatever one’s view of the shape of oral tradition and theological reflection among the first Christians, their decision to put what they witnessed in writing is the only reason we have the gospels at all, and it is undoubtedly the reason we have four of them. Luke, for example, discusses his investigative work of compiling eyewitness testimony in the prologue to his gospel, and, as Richard Bauckham demonstrated in his book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, all four of the gospels base their authoritative accounts on the information provided by eyewitnesses.
Unlike the Qur’an or the Book of Mormon, the Bible does not claim to have been dictated by God to an isolated individual through a series of visions or any other non-public experience. The Bible did not fall from heaven. In the testimonies about Jesus, including even the resurrection itself, we are confronted with irreducibly public events, things quite a few people personally claimed to have seen.
Jesus Words Can’t Be Detached From Their Context
Eyewitnesses, especially the Apostles themselves, attempted to relay not only the particular words Jesus spoke, but also his deeds, his ethical teachings and the context and meaning of it all to those who came after them. In other words, we cannot separate the words of Jesus from the other eyewitness testimony, as if his words could simply be detached from their context and applied to our lives in whatever way seems right to us. Instead, we are totally dependent, whether for the words Jesus spoke or for the content of our faith, upon the eyewitness testimony of those who first believed.
There are at least three connected reasons why this is the case. First, the apostles and those who wrote the New Testament were in a better position to understand the context for Jesus’s preaching, sayings and commands than we are. They were Jesus’s friends and students, and they knew Aramaic and koine Greek better than anyone alive today. However positively we feel about the advances of biblical criticism, science and culture, it would be foolhardy to simply subordinate what they wrote about Jesus to our interpretation of Jesus’s words.
Second, we don’t possess every word Jesus ever said. The four gospels, though they give us what we need to follow Jesus, only tell us about a tiny part of his life and teachings. As John recognised, if the apostles and eyewitnesses had tried to write down everything they had experienced with Jesus, “the whole world couldn’t contain the books” (John 21:25). One cannot help but think that Jesus further elucidated the teachings that make up the Sermon on the Mount for his disciples, told parables we know nothing about, and gave further instruction on topics relevant to the disciples’ lives. Undoubtedly, Jesus also laughed, joked, ate with and encouraged scores of people who followed him, people who from our limited perspective are lost to history. Therefore, we should never think that we today have a clearer, more comprehensive understanding of Jesus’s will for us than his first followers. They simply had more to go on than we do.
Finally, the fact is that we only know about Jesus’s life, death and resurrection through the testimony of the apostles and first Christians. God did not choose to give Western Christians living in 2020 unmediated access to those events, which happened in a very different time and place. The witness of the Spirit alone, apart from the proclamation of the gospel by other humans, is not how God chose to reveal himself to us. Rather, it seems fair to say that if God had not moved the apostles and first Christians to write, to testify to what they had seen and heard, we would know nothing about Jesus. We simply don’t have unmediated access to Jesus’s words apart from those who first walked with him and apart from the Church that now proclaims him.
Red Letter Christians, including Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne, are rightly troubled when evangelicals and other Christians seem to lose sight of who Christ is or downplay the significance of Jesus’s explicit commands. Claiborne, for example, gets at this central concern in a video where he says:
When we lose the centrality of Jesus, we end up talking a whole lot about things Jesus didn’t say anything about, and we don’t say much about the things Jesus had a whole lot to say about. So Red Letter Christians is about a movement that wants a Christianity that looks like Jesus again and is known for love again.
Notice, however, that here Claiborne is doing more than gently exhorting us to heed the red letters in our Bibles. He seems to be asking his hearers to pay less attention or perhaps even ignore the black letters, including the testimony of those eyewitnesses who “saw his glory” (John 1:14). In a post on 1 April 2011, Campolo made this move explicitly:
As the Red Letter Christian movement came to be known, I realized it would never be accepted. This is because many Christians don’t really like the God that is revealed in Jesus Christ. They want the God that is in the black letters.
The logical problem with this position is that the words of Jesus, like the rest of the New Testament, were filtered, contextualised and interpreted by the eyewitnesses and the New Testament writers. We simply cannot get back behind the text. Thus we cannot understand the red letters or the centrality of Jesus without also heeding the black letters, the words of those who walked and talked with him, ate with him and sat under his teaching, the words of those whom Jesus entrusted with the gospel. Claiborne’s exhortation and Campolo’s lament both imply that we don’t need those first witnesses and that, once we have the words of Jesus, we somehow have unmediated access to Christ’s teaching apart from their testimony.
Why would Red Letter Christians stake out what seems to be a logically untenable position? Two weeks after the election in 2016, Campolo and Claiborne wrote an op-ed in the New York Times that offers some clues. In the wake of President Trump’s victory, they wrote, “much of the good that went by the name ‘evangelicalism’ has been clouded over; now a new movement is needed to replace it.” Evangelicalism used to have moral credibility, the authors argue, but after more than 80 per cent of white evangelicals who voted in the presidential election backed a candidate unrepentant of several significant moral failings, its reputation is in tatters.
As Campolo and Claiborne would have it, however, Trump’s election was only the dramatic conclusion to evangelicalism’s moral fall, not its beginning. One can discern traces of the bad reputation evangelicalism would develop in the broader culture after evangelical leaders aligned themselves with the Republican Party. Many Americans, they write, “came to see Christians — and evangelicals in particular — as anti-women, anti-gay, anti-environment and anti-immigrant and as the champions of guns and war.” In particular, evangelicals now have the reputation as a movement that cares about only two issues, abortion and gay marriage. On both counts, many Americans might also employ the prefix Campolo and Claiborne used to describe evangelicals: “anti-.”
RLC Limited To Addressing Jesus Specific Words
Since Jesus never explicitly addressed either abortion or gay marriage in the gospel accounts, Red Letter Christians often think it better to downplay, ignore, or even oppose the typical evangelical and Catholic stances on these issues. After all, Christians have sometimes been implicated in homophobia. We have at times lost sight of human experiences unlike ours even as we fought for the human rights of the unborn. The implications of Claiborne’s programmatic statement for Red Letter Christians are, we must confess, at least partially true: the Christianity of evangelicals has not always looked like Jesus.
But by trimming inconvenient or difficult parts of the testimony of the first Christians, Red Letter Christians have not succeeded in offering us a way to make our Christianity more like Jesus. Instead, they tacitly reject the very words that provide the necessary context for the words in red. To the degree that they set aside the words of Paul and Peter, the Pentateuch and the Apocalypse, Red Letter Christians not only make a logical — or, perhaps, an epistemological — error. They also risk leading evangelicals and other Protestants toward a Christianity that looks less like the Jesus the first Christians knew and more like a Jesus fashioned in our own image.
Repackaged version of liberal mainline Protestantism
RLC seeks to achieve diversity and attract young people disenchanted with Evangelicalism by amplifying Jesus’s words. A nice-sounding endeavor. But a repackaged version of liberal mainline Protestantism will likely have the same declining fate.
Why the Red Letter Christian Movement Is Not Growing
Social Activism At The Helm Of Campollo’s RLC
“In the 20th century, the focus was on orthodoxy — making sure theologies were in tune with the theology that came forth from the epistles of Paul,” Campolo said. “But … in addition to having the right theology, it is important to have the right lifestyle — a lifestyle that takes Jesus seriously.”
What are Red Letter Christians?
Some of those involved in creating the Red Letter Christian movement should be a red flag caution.
Framers of the Red Letter movement include Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners magazine; Shane Claiborne, an activist and leader in the New Monasticism movement; Richard Rohr, a well-known Catholic writer; Brian McLaren, an emergent church leader; and Tony Campolo, a popular speaker and author of Red Letter Christians: a Citizen’s Guide to Faith and Politics. These men desired to counter the voice of evangelicalism in the political world.
Liberal Christians ‘Hijacked’ By Religious Right
The name “Red Letter Christians” refers to the words of Jesus, which are printed in red in many editions of the New Testament. Red Letter Christians are a group of liberal Christians whose desire is to counter the political influence of conservative Christians. In the past thirty years, the voice of evangelical Christianity has been fairly prominent in the political process, much to the chagrin of secularists, non-evangelicals, and liberal Christians. As conservative Christians networked in such groups as the Moral Majority, the Christian Coalition, and American Values, popular figures within liberal Christianity began to feel disenfranchised. They deemed their faith to have been “hijacked” by the religious right.
Inherently Political Supporting Liberal Policies
The group chose the name for a couple of reasons: first, to stress that its political philosophy is based on Jesus’ teachings—a “What Would Jesus Do?” approach to governmental policy. Second, to appear apolitical—the appellation “Red Letter Christians” avoids the political connotations of labels such as “liberal” and “progressive,” and it facilitates the group’s claim that it transcends politics. Of course, the founding of the Red Letter Christian movement was politically motivated, and the organization is inherently political, as it supports various (liberal) government policies.
Red Letter Christians resent what they see as the religious right’s fixation on abortion and homosexual rights. Since Jesus did not deal with those two issues, they say, we should not make them more urgent than other issues. Instead, Red Letter Christians focus on political policies affecting poverty, global warming, racial discrimination, the role of the military, capital punishment, foreign aid, and public education.
RLC Seek To Redefine Moral Values Via Jesus Words
Red Letter Christians believe that moral values should be a major subject of dialogue within American politics but that conservative Christians have embraced the wrong values. Red Letter Christians seek to redefine moral values according to their interpretation of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and other “red letter” passages. They plan to spread their message via websites, blogs, candidates’ forums, debates, and printed voter guides.
Problems With Red Letter Christian Movement
All politics aside, there are some problems associated with the Red Letter Christian movement. The first concerns the group’s open theology. Bringing together various faith backgrounds is very tolerant and progressive, but theologically untenable. Founders of the movement include those who believe that we must earn our way to heaven and those who distrust the inspiration of the Word of God.
The second problem involves the group’s piecemeal approach to Scripture. To concentrate on certain parts of the Bible to the exclusion of others is unbalanced and dangerous. “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Epistles, for example, were written to instruct us on the practical outworking of Jesus’ teaching and are just as inspired as Jesus’ own words. Paul’s words should not be considered inferior, as the term “Red Letter Christians” implies.
A third problem relates to their interpretation of Jesus’ words. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was not trying to write national government policy. He was presenting Himself as the fulfillment of the Old Testament Law (Matthew 5:17) and the Savior from sin for all who would believe in Him. He clearly separated Himself from all political movements and paradigms when He said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).
While it is true that Jesus was neither a Republican nor a Democrat, and we need public discussion on all moral values, not just abortion and homosexuality, we must handle God’s Word honestly and guard against those who undermine the sufficiency of Scripture and the sacrifice of Christ.
Serious Problems With RLC Movement
This commitment is a response to two issues: the social reality of life in contemporary America; and the way that evangelical Christians there are all too often aligned with the political right. Campolo hopes that this new movement will not simply take a position within these politico-religious culture wars, but offer a non-partisan approach that transcends the divide:
The purpose of this gathering was not to create a religious left movement to challenge the religious right, but to jump-start a religious movement that will transcend partisan politics. Believing that Jesus is neither a Republican nor a Democrat, we want to unite Christians who are concerned about what is happening in America.
It is worth noting, however, that Campolo’s proposal of transcending the right/left divide looks somewhat disingenuous here, as these are all ‘left’-type issue.
More importantly, I think focussing on the ‘red letter’ words of Jesus is the wrong way to address these problems. In fact, this approach offers considerable problems of its own.
The first danger is that it detaches Jesus from his Jewish context by failing to read his words in the context of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) that Jesus himself read. One of the refrains on the website is ‘If Jesus didn’t talk about it, why is it so important?’ But, as Wes Hill points out, this has never been the main way Christians engage with ethics, and it is potentially highly misleading.
Contrary to the “red-letter Christians” experiment, it is simply not a classic Christian practice—among Catholics, Orthodox, or Protestants—to pit the words (or silence) of Jesus over against other portions of Scripture.
Neo-Marcionite Contrast Of O.T. God Against Jesus
And if we do, this very quickly leads to a neo-Marcionite position, where we contrast the (rather nasty and obsessive) god of the Old Testament with the radical and inspiring message of Jesus. Apart from anything else, this is incoherent and unnecessary. If you want to look for resources for a radical alternative to consumerism, you can do no better than turn to Lev 25 and read the teaching on the Jubilee—as many other Christians have in fact done. Here we find a radically communitarian vision of life under the reign of God where we do not own our possessions but are merely stewards of them. And in the gospels, Jesus is mostly presented as a fulfilment of such a vision, not a contradiction to it.
Jesus Removed From Theological & Historical
The second danger is that this approach dehistoricises Jesus. In removing him from his Jewish theological context, we also remove him from his historical context and treat what he says as though they were timeless statements of truth which need no interpretation. Ironically, this has a similar effect to the one imposed by the Jesus Seminar, a group of historically sceptical scholars who believe we need to recover the historically authentic words of Jesus from the layers of later theological additions. To do this, one criterion apply is the ‘criterion of dissimilarity‘; we can be confident that something is from Jesus if it is untypical of both his Jewish context and the later teaching of the church. But this is not a way to find the authentic Jesus; it is a way to find the eccentric Jesus. And by focussing on his radical sayings, the RLC movement does the same.
The third danger is that the RLC approach emasculates our theology. It is very clear from even a cursory reading of the NT that the first disciples, whilst they attended very carefully to the teaching of Jesus, proclaimed a good deal more than that. Jesus was not just someone who told us things we did not know; in his resurrection God had done something we could not do. That is the centre of Peter’s teaching in Acts 2; that is clearly the message of Paul in Acts 17. Even in the gospels themselves, Jesus’ teaching can never be separated from his miracles. In fact, the later apostolic teaching about Jesus is presented very strongly in continuity with the teaching of Jesus. Wes Hill again:
The unfolding of the New Testament canon presents itself as the continuation of Jesus’ speech, so much so that Paul’s words in Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6 and elsewhere about sexual behavior are to be read as having the authority of the same Jesus who allegedly said nothing about homosexuality during his earthly life. Notice how Paul describes his identity: “Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead…” (Galatians 1:1).
Alignin With Gnostics – ‘Gospel’ of Thomas
If we focus only on the teaching of Jesus, we are aligning ourselves with the Gnostics; the so-called ‘gospel’ of Thomas, which contains 114 sayings of Jesus, is no gospel at all, since a ‘gospel’ announces good news about what God has done.
My friend John Allister commented (on a previous edition of this post):
Added to which, it presupposes a crazy notion of translation. We’ve only got a handful of ipsissima verba – talitha koum, etc. The rest are already in translation (albeit divinely inspired translation, often by those who knew Jesus well), which necessarily changes the shades of meaning. Given that we trust John’s translation of Jesus’ words, which can probably be fairly free at times, why shouldn’t we trust his teaching about the consequences of Jesus’ words?
The irony of all this is that focussing on the ‘red letters’ is not what is needed, nor does it deliver what is necessary. One of the ‘trending’ articles on the website explores the idea that ‘Being born again is not about Going to Heaven‘. The articles draws on the writings of Tom Wright—hardly a ‘red letter Christian’ but in fact a renowned Pauline scholar. Another related articles loudly proclaims ‘The Bible Isn’t Perfect And It Says So Itself.’ It is arguing against the notion of biblical ‘inerrancy’, but is probably one of the worst examples of engaging with this issue I can think of. It suggests that, because 2 Tim 3.16 says that Scripture is ‘God-breathed’ then it is not God. And only God is perfect. So Scripture is not perfect.
My mom isn’t perfect. She would be the first one to tell you so. She has several degrees and a lifetime of experience, but she would also tell you she’s not inerrant.
And the Bible is like that. We go to it for wise advice, but it is not perfect. This is the most appalling logic—and quite the opposite of what Paul intended in 2 Tim 3.16! The reason for the problem is that the writer of this is locked into the same assumptions as the people he is criticising—that the opposite of ‘inerrant’ is ‘errant’ and so the Bible must be one of these two. But in fact the real problem that needs to be tackled is the background of nineteenth-century rationalism which is framing this whole discussion.
What is actually needed here is not to read less of the Bible, Jesus’ words alone, but to read more of it. If Campolo and others are concerned that abortion and homosexuality are taking up too much of evangelicals’ attention, then the answer to that is to locate these issues in the whole of the Scriptural witness, and give them due weight—no more, and no less. Campolo is wrong that the main issue for Christians in America is inequality, or poverty, or discrimination. The main problem there, as here, and in every place, is that all have sinned; that the kingdom of God is at hand but we need to repent. If some Christians twist this into a right-wing, moralistic, individualised message, then the solution is not to try and ‘transcend’ these issues, but to engage with them in a better reading of the whole Bible that we all share.
RLC Gospel Theology – A Crossless Gospel
A particularly virulent form of this approach is hidden behind what Tony Campolo now approvingly calls “red letter Christians.” These red letter Christians, he says, hold the same theological commitments as do other evangelicals, but they take the words of Jesus especially seriously (they devote themselves to the “red letters” of some foolishly printed Bibles) and end up being more concerned than are other Christians for the poor, the hungry, and those at war. Oh, rubbish: this is merely one more futile exercise in trying to find a “canon within the canon” to bless my preferred brand of theology. That’s the first of two serious mistakes commonly practiced by these red letter Christians.
The other is worse: their actual grasp of what the red letter words of Jesus are actually saying in context far too frequently leaves a great deal to be desired; more particularly, to read the words of Jesus and emphasize them apart from the narrative framework of each of the canonical gospels, in which the plot-line takes the reader to Jesus’ redeeming death and resurrection, not only has the result of down-playing Jesus’ death and resurrection, but regularly fails to see how the red-letter words of Jesus point to and unpack the significance of his impending crosswork. In other words, it is not only Paul who says that Jesus’ cross and resurrection constitute matters “of first importance” (1 Cor 15:3), and not only Paul who was resolved to know nothing among the Corinthians except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor 2:1–5), but the shape of the narrative in each canonical gospel says the same thing. In each case the narrative rushes toward the cross and resurrection; the cross and resurrection are the climax. So to interpret the narrative, including the red-letter words of Jesus, apart from the climax to which they are rushing, is necessarily a distortion of the canonical gospels themselves.
Some of the gospel passion accounts make this particularly clear. In Matthew, for example, Jesus is repeatedly mocked as “the king of the Jews” (27:27–31, 37, 42). But Matthew knows that his readers have been told from the beginning of his book (even the bits without red letters) that Jesus is the king: the first chapter establishes the point, and tells us that, as the promised Davidic king, he is given the name “YHWH saves” (“Jesus”) because he comes to save his people from their sins. Small wonder for its first three centuries the church meditated often on the irony of Jesus “reigning” from a cross, that barbaric Roman instrument of torture and shame. And it is Matthew who reminds us that, this side of the cross, this side of the resurrection, all authority belongs to Jesus (28:18–20). These constitute parts of the narrative framework without which Jesus’ red-letter words, not least his portrayals of the kingdom, cannot be rightly understood.
What’s so awful about ‘Red Letter Christians’ and the ‘Jesus Hermeneutic’?
Over the past few weeks I’ve been figuratively cleaning off the bottoms of my shoes after stepping into multiple controversies with people who seem to be following different gospels than my own. One of these systems is held by many of the twenty- and thirty-somethings I come in contact with. These younger Christians try to take the moral high ground. They’ve been deceived.
The Jesus Hermeneutic is a learned heresy. Two of the wolves behind it are the false teachers Jim Wallis and Tony Compolo.
Red Letter Christians
Red Letter Christians is a radical movement aimed at the political and social overthrow of evangelical Christianity. Here’s how Tony Compolo describes it:
We are evangelicals who are troubled by what is happening to poor people in America; who are disturbed over environmental policies that are contributing to global warming; who are dismayed over the increasing arrogance of power shown in our country’s militarism; who are outraged because government funding is being reduced for schools where students, often from impoverished and dysfunctional homes, are testing poorly; who are upset with the fact that of the 22 industrialized nations America is next to last in the proportion of its national budget (less than two-tenths of 1 percent) that is designated to help the poor of third-world countries; and who are broken-hearted over discrimination against women, people of color, and those who suffer because of their sexual orientation.
The social issues Compolo raises are real and significant. But the true gospel is not political. Jesus said clearly, My kingdom is not of this world (John 18.36).
Compolo admits his movement is actually cloaked progressive liberalism:
Because being evangelical is usually synonymous with being Republican in the popular mind, and calling ourselves “progressive” might be taken as a value judgment by those who do share our views, we decided not to call ourselves “progressive evangelicals.” We came up with a new name: Red-Letter Christians.
My latest run-in with a proponent of this pseudo-Christian political radicalism occurred in the comment section of Winging it. Josh correctly and succinctly defines the Jesus Hermeneutic with these words:
“Jesus teaching carries more weight than other teachings in the Bible.” (Josh – op cit)
If you take a moment to think about this, you will start to see how this method of Biblical interpretation does violence to what Christians and the Christian church have understood about God and ethics for two millenia. First of all it denies the hermeneutic principle of Scripture interprets Scripture. Secondly (as LPC has pointed out), all the words of the 66 books of the Bible are Jesus’ words.
Josh’s moral umbrage against Christians who believe it’s just to defend the weak and powerless aligns perfectly with Campolo’s Gandhian agenda:
In those red letters…He calls us to be merciful, which has strong implications for how we think about capital punishment. When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, he probably means we shouldn’t kill them…Figuring out just how to relate those radical red letters in the Bible to the complex issues in the modern world will be difficult, but that’s what we’ll try to do.
Gandhi once said that everybody in the world knows what Jesus was teaching in those verses – except Christians! We will try to prove him wrong.
Notice how Campolo cleverly misleads his audience by confusing the governmental responsibility to uphold justice and punish crime with the behaviors of individual Christians. He also creates a false dichotomy between love and all the other virtues commended by our Lord.
As an aside we should ask ourselves how much the devoted Hindu and anti-Christian Gandhi really has to teach us. Just because the world upholds him as a hero does not mean that he should be a moral light to you and I. This man who rejected the salvation offered by Jesus Christ slept naked with 13 year old girls to practice his ability to resist sexual temptation. Gandhi has no part in defining how the Bible should be interpreted.
The social gospel is no gospel at all
A hundred years ago the social gospel ran roughshod over the American Protestant churches. Christians from many streams left their denominations in rejection of this false gospel. And here it is returned to suck in a whole new generation of the deceived. I bet you’ve heard one or more of these ideas in the so-called neo-evangelical church:
- The government is violating God’s will when it puts murderers to death.
- Jesus was a radical.
- Christians are called to reform the world.
- Non-violence is the supreme morality.
- God’s nature is only love.
- If you’re not feeding the poor, clothing the homeless, etc, you are no real Christian.
Etcetera. Do you notice the biggest social evils specifically called out in the Bible – sodomy, religious apostasy (you are a little god) and child sacrifice (abortion) – are conspicuously missing? Nowhere is the true nature of this false gospel more apparent. These three evils are explicitly defended or at the very least ignored by the red-letter followers of the Jesus Hermeneutic. This is no coincidence.
Jim Wallis’s Reasoning For The Jesus Hermeneutic
Jim Wallis may be right that large portions of the visible church don’t agree with Biblical teachings. But his solution is not to bring people back to the Scriptures, but to sever the parts he doesn’t like. Which includes the Old Testament and the writings of the Apostle Paul.
We have a problem. Most people have the idea, as crazy as it may seem, that Christians and the church are supposed to stand for the same things that Jesus did…The truth is that there are many people who like the “red letter stuff,” and many of them are not even Christians…
You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the creators of the Jesus Hermeneutic and Red Letter Christians are ecstatic in their love for the Emergent Church:
This issue includes a section of Brian McLaren’s new book, The Secret Message of Jesus—a message often kept secret even by the churches themselves and utterly disguised by many of our television evangelists who seem to preach a different gospel. Brian is the spiritual leader of a new movement called the “emergent church,” which is drawing a generation raised in the churches back to Jesus and attracting many outside the religious community to a Jesus they never heard about from the churches. He knows that people intuitively recognize that Jesus’ message of God’s kingdom—a new world of compassion, justice, integrity, and peace—is the good news they’ve been searching and waiting for.
Wallis is indirectly speaking the truth. His is another gospel at war not only with other false versions of Christianity like those of the televangelists, but most importantly at war with the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Our Lord’s warning and curse of Revelation 22.18-19 applies, no matter how glibly Josh and those caught up in this movement deny it. Don’t take my word for it. Read it for yourself. It’s a red-letter passage. And it’s a fearful curse from our Lord.
Apostate teachers rarely admit their hatred of the real Jesus as Jim Wallis has here. I encourage you to read his whole sorry statement: Red letter Christians: Somehow Jesus has survived even the church.
If only this were the only apostate movement striking hammers at the foundations of the beleaguered church of Jesus Christ. Fortunately God has comforted us with his promise which can never be broken:
…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)
Where have you come across this Jesus Hermeneutic/ Red-Letter Christians? Please share your personal experiences. They are very helpful to others.
Let’s pray that all of those who have unknowingly been caught up in this false gospel will see the error, renounce it and separate themselves.
Stan approaches the Jesus Hermeneutic from a different perspective. You can
read his post here: The Jesus Hermeneutic
Book Review: The Irresistible Revolution, by Shane Claiborne
Shane Claiborne is co-founder of Red Letter Christians
He’s articulate, passionate, well educated, and widely read. Quoting with appreciation Che Guevara, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mama T (a.k.a. Mother Teresa), Jim Wallis, Dorothy Day, Gandhi, John Yoder, Bono, Bonheoffer, Rich Mullins, and the red-letter Christian brigade, he discloses his broad philosophical and theological influences. Tracing the potential trajectory of all these ideas is like observing a cognitive dissonance cluster bomb, and it led me to the conclusion that he truly believes what he teaches: that great social change can come through hokey street theater, the use of sidewalk chalk, and blowing bubbles at bemused police officers (189)
The Major Problem
The major problem is the cluster bomb I mentioned above. His theology is an unbiblical and incoherent synthesis which might be described as popularized Christian anarchism for young, disaffected, middle-class Americans.
I don’t say this to be mean spirited. Claiborne has asked to be critiqued from a theological perspective. He writes, “the answer to bad theology is not no theology but good theology. So rather than distancing ourselves from religious language and biblical study, let’s dive into the Scripture together, correcting bad theology with good theology” (169). I agree. If he’s accurately following Scripture, we should follow him. If he’s not, then he needs to stop the “theatrics of counterterror” (188) and join us in a rather different task.
Vast differences between a Red Letter Bible and a Red Letter Christian
Red Letter Christians are growing in number and popularity Christians, so we need to know what they are, or really, who they are and what they believe. I have a Red Letter Bible where Jesus’ words are in red, and that’s why that Bible bears that name, but Red Letter Christians are not believers who only read and teach the red letters in the Bible (Jesus’ words alone), but they do emphasize Jesus’ teaching more than others, focusing more on the words of Jesus, and strive to follow in His footsteps, so Red Letter Christians are a lot more than those who simply read the sayings of Jesus and that’s all, however, there’s a vast differences between a Red Letter Bible and a Red Letter Christian.
Agenda To Challenge Cultural Norms – fight for the well-being of all people “as children of God”
What Red Letter Christians believe (not all) is that Christians should be questioning the cultural norms of society while trying to affect it. They believe this can lead to wholeness; however the culture’s not the first problem. We are! We all, 100% of us, fall infinitely short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23), and not one of us are “good” or even seek after God (Rom 3:10-12). Wholeness is not achieved through seeking to change the culture but changing ourselves by God’s Spirit! With such an agenda as to challenge the cultural norms, Red Letter Christians fight for the well-being of all people “as children of God.” It sounds good and society loves the idea that we’re all the children of God, and yes, I agree, we should advocate for those disenfranchised in the world, seeking to serve them (Matt 25:34-39) as serving Christ (Matt 25:40), but not everyone is a child God.
It takes the Spirit of God and a person of God to share the Word of God to make the children of God for the glory of God. Changing the culture doesn’t save anyone. I agree we are to be salt and light to a dark and decaying world, but our first obligation is not changing the culture but seeking to have the Spirit of God change us and others so that they might know Christ. I do appreciate their willingness to work alongside others of different faiths (or no faith), but wholeness doesn’t come from trying to change society; wholeness comes from repentance and faith. Change can come to the culture, but it first must come to us. We cannot change the culture until God first changes us.
It takes the whole Word of God to better understand the whole counsel of God, so to restrict particular Scriptures based upon Jesus’ words alone, is to choose for ourselves what we want to accept from God and what we don’t want to bother with.
Ecumenism Fails To Distinguish Gospel Of Salvation
*>Daryl here: The danger in focusing on cultural change, benefiting society, over the gospel that leads to salvation, is seen here, Red Letter Christians fight for the well-being of all people “as children of God.” And in this fight, there is an ecumenical affiliation, that fails to distinguish the gospel that leads to salvation.
The Truth About Tony Campolo & RLCs
By Ken Silva pastor-teacher on Feb 7, 2011
Deceit Played Out In Red Letter Applications As Ecumenical Alliances Hold Sway
The online apologetics and discernment work Apprising Ministries has pointed out that, thanks to evangelicalism embracing the sinfully ecumenical neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church aka the Emerging Church—with its “big tent” Progressive Christianity aka Emergence Christianity—and by using warped and toxic teachings of EC leaders like Emerging Church rock star pastor Rob Bell, it has poisoned its own young. Since squishy evanjellyfish has now followed the mortally wounded mainline denominations out of the closet, with its man-love of heart murmur spirituality at the expense the God-centered spirituality of sola Scriptura, I’ve been giving you peeks at its bleak future of division and compromise of God’s Word.
Tony Campolo’s Red Letter Spiritual Motley Crew
With this in mind, I’ll remind you that not only is Tony Campolo a leading spokesman for this postmodern form of progressive Liberalism 2.o de-formation of the Christian faith, he is also still quite influential within younger sectors of evangelicalism as well. It’s important to remember, that as admirable as some of his social concerns are, Campolo is actually in bed spiritually with his fellow Red Letter Christian (RLC) friends Living Spiritual Teacher and EC guru Brian McLaren and universalist Roman Catholic mystic Richard Rohr. Other notable RLCs would be Campolo’s disciple Shane Claiborne, Jim Wallis, progressive/liberal historian Diana Butler Bass, and Tony Jones, the progressive “theologian in residence” at the Emerging Church of universalist Doug Pagitt; a spiritual motley crew if there ever was one.
Against this background I’ll point out that back on March 10, 2008 on his PBS show Tavis Smiley asks Tony Campolo, “what is a ‘Red Letter Christian?’” Campolo replies:
Well, he or she is somebody whose beliefs are very traditional in a sense. It’s a person that believes in the Apostles’ Creed, who believes salvation comes from Jesus, who believes that the bible was inspired by God, but whose politics are not aligned with the religious right. (Online source)
Hmm, that doesn’t quite sound quite right. Let me see if I can fix that:
“Well, he or she is somebody whose beliefs are very ‘traditional’ in an ecumenical sense where most any belief that considers itself Christian is accepted as simply another ‘tradition.’ It’s a person that relishes the brevity and non-specitivity of the Apostles’ Creed, who believes that the Bible becomes inspired by God as a given passage ‘speaks’ to them, but whose politics are not aligned with anyone we broad-brush as being part of some nebulous religious right.
Please understand I am not being critical of the Apostles’ Creed; I’m telling you that the language allows people to inject new meanings while using the same terminology.
Denying Inspiration Of Bible Play Paul Against Jesus
This so-called Red Letter Christian business is a not so subtle twist of old liberalism which, because it denies the verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible, tries to play the words of Paul against those of Jesus.
However, in the big tent circus Christianity of the Emerging Church 2.0 we’re dealing with a postmodern form of liberalism, which includes people who do believe in the miraculous, as well as those who do not. Campolo then explains:
Red Letter Christianity is not an approach to Scripture that seats the ‘red letters’ of the Bible above any other letters from the Bible. There is no hierarchy of ‘red letters’ down to ‘black letters.’ Instead, Red Letter Christianity places an emphasis on Christ’s words as found throughout the New Testament. Much in the same way that certain churches identify with Micah 6:8 or John 3:16 our movement identifies with the specific words of Christ with regards to action and deed. (Online source)
Sounds good at first, but Christian churches don’t get to “identify” with certain parts of Scripture; we are called out of the world to assemble to worship God in Christ. We are to preach to preach the only Gospel there is (cf. Galatians 1:6-9), repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ Name because salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in the finished work on the Cross of Christ alone. As a secondary effect “actions and deed” may produce positive effects in the world; but the primary mission is what Jesus tells us here — “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). Yet this is the heart of the problem with these RLCs because, in seeking harmony with the world, that Gospel is not what they preach; this becomes clear as Campolo tells us:
I am excited about the movement of Red Letter Christianity and the impact it will have throughout our world. For those of you still questioning allow me to quote Jesus, “for whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40). I can assure you that I am not against you but am for, together with you, the betterment of our world through the spread and proclamation of Christianity in both word and deed. (Online source)
Liberal Theology, Not The Gospel – Societal Betterment/Reform
This is why RLCs can partner with dead mainline churches long ago killed by the cult of liberal theology; “the betterment of our world” is not the Gospel, it’ a form of man-centered dominionism. If only they cared about the souls of the people they try to please with a message that can be preached by any religion; or social agency for that matter.
In closing this, for now, I will say that I’m glad to see that Campolo said:
a study of Christ’s teachings found within the Red Letters undoubtedly point’s readers over and over again to the entirety of Scripture. Throughout his teachings, Christ directly and indirectly refers to the teachings of the law and the prophets. Whether Christ is referring back to Leviticus or Isaiah, the Red Letters vividly show the connection between Christ’s words and the whole of Scripture.As Jesus himself says: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Online source)
In this case Campolo is exactly right; for example, Paul’s writings contain pastoral applications of Christ’s teachings, and since Jesus Christ—the Lord—is God, where the Lord God speaks in the Old Testament, Jesus also speaks. You know, if Tony Campolo and the Red Letter Christians were actually in tune with what he just said above, it sure would clear up a lot of the issues they can’t seem to figure out. Let’s take their conundrum concerning the deviant and sinful lifestyle of having sexual relations with another of the same sex, i.e homosexuality. The Bible teaches Jesus is God, and that He is the Creator of everything (cf. John 1:1-3). In Leviticus 18:22 the Lord God says — You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. So now you know what view Jesus has concerning homosexuality.
RLC’s Even Ignore Jesus’ Words On Sexual Sins
And it gets even clearer right within the red words of the New Testament as well when Jesus, our Creator Himself, is quoted by Matthew in his eyewitness deposition as saying — “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’” (Matthew 19:4-5)? Did you catch that Tony; it’s patently obvious Jesus has just defined marriage as between a male, that would be a man, and a female, which of course is a woman. And we know the identity of he who created them from the beginning, don’t we Tony and your Red Letter Christian buds. This means that same-sex sexual relations, being outside the marriage covenant of our Creator, will always be a sin of sexual immorality.
Uh-oh, not all the RLCers—I would venture most—don’t believe all those red letters; for example Emerging Church Theologian Tony Jones Says Jesus Was Wrong. You may recall that regarding those who are unrepentant in their practice of the sin of homosexuality Jones stated:
And yet, all the time I could feel myself drifting toward acceptance that gay persons are fully human persons and should be afforded all of the cultural and ecclesial benefits that I am. (”Aha!” my critics will laugh derisively, “I knew he and his ilk were on a continuous leftward slide!”)
In any case, I now believe that GLBTQ can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (at least as much as any of us can!) and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state.
(Online source, bold his)
Obviously, as I just showed you, this is absolutely counter to the clear teaching of those red letters that Bible; but when the Scriptures run against its pro-gay agenda leaders in the Emerging Church conveniently ignore it in favor of their preconceived beliefs. This goes for Tony Campolo as well as he says in his book Red Letter Christians:
Marriage should be viewed as an institution ordained by God and should be out of the control of the state. Of course, homosexual couples could go to churches that welcome and affirm gay marriage and get their unions blessed there, but isn’t that the way it should be in a nation that guarantees people the right to promotion religion according to their personal convictions?
If such a proposal became normative, those like myself who hold to traditional beliefs about marriage would go to traditional churches where conservative beliefs about marriage are upheld, and we would have our marriages blessed there.
So while Campolo says he has a “traditional” belief concerning marriage, he erases it when he partners with heretics like Tony Jones and Brian McLaren who don’t. No, don’t be fooled by all their religious blather; when all is said and done these Red Letter Christians are simply using this pious sounding title for themselves as a way to speak words the world will find acceptable, and that’s why the world listens to them (1 John 4:5).