“The Church is a whore, but she’s my mother.” – (attributed to Saint Augustine in Letters To A Young Evangelical)
Red Letter Christian
Now, inside the mind of a Red Letter Christian. I am a Red Letter Christian. That was a movement started by Tony Campolo and number of other people; Richard Rohr a Catholic priest, Brian McLaren who is part of the Emergent Christianity that is on the scene today, and a number of others. What we are trying to do is read the bible through the lens of Jesus, through the red letters. Remember when the old bibles had the translation of the word of Jesus in the red? Well, that is what we are doing. We are pulling out the words of Jesus and reading the bible through the lens of Jesus. And you say, how does that help. Well, you know as a protestant, someone who believes in the reaffirmation and stuff like that. I’ve always seen the bible in the eyes my denomination’s founder, John Wesley or John Calvin depending on what organization that I was a part of. And then back through the eyes of Paul, and then back to Jesus. you see what I am saying. But even then it was only the eschatological Jesus. The Jesus that was coming not the Jesus that was. So what happens is Richard Rohr told Tony Campolo a story once. He said what is the difference between the lenses that read the scripture through. And Richard Rohr said well as Catholics we start in the gospels, as Protestants you start in the Epistles; you always read through the eyes of the Apostle Paul. It’s the bible through Pauline theology. Well, we start with Jesus. The difference is, and this should hit home to a lot of people is that the Catholic church produces people like Mother Teresa and the Protestant churches produce seminaries. So you see the Protestant churches have been really concerned with correct doctrine, following a certain creed, who is in and who is out. And us as red letter christians, we believe that the christian faith has to do with today, and it more about orthopraxy, instead of orthodoxy. We aren’t discounting the importance of good doctrine. Proper doctrine produces proper behavior. We have acknowledge the fact that we could be wrong. Paul says that we see through the glass darkly but then we shall see him face to face. So that is one focus.
Red Letter Christianity, how does that apply to our lives? Well, it’s just really kingdom focused. Every time Jesus showed up on the scene, he says I have come to declare that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. He told the apostles to go and preach the kingdom of heaven is at hand. So we need to understand what this kingdom of heaven, kingdom of God is. How it works out in our lives today, how we can be kingdom people. I think that if we start way back in the Old Testament, we don’t get it. If we start with the prophetic view of Jesus, we don’t really get it. But if we start with the gospel view of Jesus, we see it. The narrative has changed a little bit but the actors stay the same. Jesus says I have come to declare upon to you the kingdom of God. Well, everybody knew what he was talking about. Because they could look back to Isaiah and see when he was talking about when the kingdom of God has come, the lion will lay down with the lamb. People will be fed. Diseases will be cured, people will have access to good medication. If we look at the way the kingdom of God was presented and we are trying to be kingdom people that affects our lives. That affects the way we vote. It affects the things that we stand for.
As a Red Letter Christian, can I be for capital punishment? Well, I don’t know but it is really for me to be when I look at the words of Jesus and He says love your enemy,when He says blessed are the merciful. What should my view on war be? Blessed are the peacemakers. Love your enemy. When Jesus said love your enemy, I guess that means that we shouldn’t kill them. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. So, as Red Letter Christians, we are trying to struggle with the scriptures through the lens of Jesus. It changes, I really think it changes our understanding and our perception of the scriptures and it takes care of a lot of questions that we have. Because we aren’t looking at a slaughtering God now. Now we are looking at the God that was slaughtered. Amen. So I think a lot of things change when we scripture that way. So I am a Red Letter Christian.
“While visiting a Buddhist Monastery in China, a friend of mine noticed a monk seated peacefully in deep meditation. My friend felt a strong impulse to disturb the monk and share the Gospel with him. As my friend shared the story of Christ’s sacrificial gift of salvation, he noticed the monk was visible moved. Then my friend asked the monk the simple question, “Will you surrender your life to Christ and invite him to be a living presence within you?”
The monk answered with dismay, “Invite him into my life? How can I accept him when he is already within me? I have known him for many years, but I did not know his name. Even as you were telling me about what he did for me, his spirit was prompting me from within to affirm what you told me. Thank you for giving his presence within me a name.”
My friend was left with some disturbing questions. Did that monk have a saving relationship with Christ before he had ever heard the Gospel story? How essential is it to know the name of Jesus? If experiencing Jesus without knowing his name is enough, then how are we to take the verse, “for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:!2)?”
As told by Tony Campolo in his book Letters To A Young Evangelical
“We contend that to ally Jesus with either political party is idolatry. The Jesus of Scripture will not conform to the ideologies of any party. He stands in judgement of all of our political agendas and calls Christians in each and every party to examine their respective party platforms in accord with His teaching.” – Tony Campolo (Letters To A Young Evangelical)
“In Romans 16:7, Paul recognized Junia, a woman, as a fellow apostle – the supreme role for a preacher and teacher in ecclesiastical rankings.” – Tony Campolo (Letters To A Young Evangelical)