Red Letter Christianity
Living the Words of Jesus No Matter the Cost
by Shane Claiborne; Tony Campolo
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'Red Letter Christianity' gives you the thoughts of two revolutionary authors who both believe the 'red letter words' spoken by Jesus are more than just letters of a different shade, they literally contain everything we need to know, believe and live by.
'Red Letter Christianity' is a both encouraging and challenging read that will awaken you to Jesus' call to live a revolutionary life. Shaine Claiborne (author of 'The Irresistible Revolution' and circus enthusiast) and Tony Campolo (author of 'Let Me Tell You A Story') are both red letter Christians. Meaning: they take Jesus seriously by endeavoring to live out His radical, counter-cultural teachings as set forth in Scripture, and especially embracing the lifestyle prescribed in the Sermon on the Mount.
The pair toured the UK in August 2012, stopping in Birkenhead, Southampton and Belfast, to promote the book and their message, with Rend Collective tagging along to lead worship. Confronting today's most pressing issues - such as consumerism, the gap between the rich and the poor and the environment - is not the responsibility of our government, it's something Jesus commands. These red letter should keep us up at night.
Red Letter Christianity by Shane Claiborne; Tony Campolo was published by Hodder & Stoughton in September 2012 and is our 1290th best seller. The ISBN for Red Letter Christianity is 9781444745382.
|Why Tony Campolo is a Red Letter Christian
Posted: Monday, October 1st
Jesus said a lot of challenging things – about loving our enemies, our attitude to the poor, and the way we speak about others.
But how seriously do we really take his words? What if Jesus really meant what he said? And what if doing what he told us really made a difference – to the whole world?
Red Letter Christianity explores the crucial issues facing followers of Jesus today, including global poverty and injustice, the growth of the church, sexuality, the environment – and many more.
Shane Claiborne is the bestselling author of The Irresistible Revolution and Jesus for President. He is a founding partner of The Simple Way, a faith community in inner city Philadelphia. Acclaimed preacher Tony Campolo is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Eastern University in Pennsylvania, and was a spiritual adviser to Bill Clinton. He is the author of Letters to a Young Evangelical, Speaking My Mind and Which Jesus?
Part 1- Red Letter Theology:
On the Church
Part 2 - Red Letter Living:
On Civil Disobedience
Part 3 - Red Letter World:
On War and Violence
On National Debts
On the Middle East
On the Global Church
Shane Claiborne: ‘We dream of a Christianity that looks like Jesus again. We read the words of the gospels and the things he said in those red letters and we say ‘what if he really meant this stuff?’ ‘What if we were to live our lives based on the words of Jesus?’ That’s what this book is about.’
Narrator: ‘In ‘Red Letter Revolution’ bestselling authors Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne undertake the world-shaping mission to understand how Jesus’ words could change everything - if we’d only give them a chance.’
SC: ‘‘What if Jesus mean the stuff he said?’ and I begin to realise that so many of the things I learned in Sunday School were dodging the real heart of the gospel and it became really clear to me that if the Church continues to lose young people it won’t be because we made the gospel too hard, but because we’ve made it too easy. That’s what this project is really about, it’s saying ‘What does it look like to surrender ALL to Jesus and to try to live in the way he teaches?’
Tony Campolo: ‘If one word was to summarise this book for me, it would be ‘risky’. It’s a very risky book, we took a lot of risks in saying things that we felt really needed to be said. Not to be sensationalist, but in fact saying these are statements that most Christian preachers would like to make - if they thought they could get away with it.’
SC: ‘Why are we living such safe lives - tiptoeing through life just to die safely? We talked about this study where old people were asked a few question including ‘What would you do differently?’ and they said ‘we would risk more.’ It occurs to me that a lot of us Christians, we risk such little with our lives and yet we’re living in a world that demands imagination and risk and is compelling us to live in the new patterns.’
TC: ‘If I was a Pastor, I think I would take this book and form a couple of study groups and give out the book - let the people read and react; and to listen to what they had to say; and to enter into a dialogue with them. If would hope that they wouldn’t simply stand up and BOOM lay it on people, but they would invite people to dialogue and to discuss the controversial subject matter that’s in here. We’ve hit almost every ‘hot button’ issue that the Church is facing in the 21st century and we think that Jesus speaks directly to each and every one of them.’
SC: ‘Christianity spreads fast not through force but through fascination. A lot of what we do is tell stories of folks that are living out a Christianity that reminds the world of Jesus. That’s what Jesus did - he fascinated the world with God’s love and showed the world what God looked like and everybody was magnetised. We think that Jesus still has that same power today.’
TC: ‘Some people say they don’t go to church because church is ‘boring’ - I don’t want to get too hot and bothered on this - but how did we take the most exciting, dynamic figure in human history, who said some of the most shocking and revolutionary things that have ever been said, and made it boring? That’s what I want to know, and that’s what this book is out to challenge.’
SC: ‘Don’t give up on Jesus because of the Christians; read the words of Jesus again and then ask yourself: ‘what if he meant it?’ - maybe he did mean it, and maybe it will cause a total revolution of my life.’
Red Letter Christianity will challenge you to take literally the words of Jesus printed red in the four gospels. Two authors show how the words spoken by Jesus, his life, death and resurrection are about restoration not retribution. Their Red Letter approach to Christianity honours Jesus by living out his radical, teaching through the counter-cultural lifestyle described in his sermon on the mount.
('Red Letter Revolution' is the US title of the this book 'Red Letter Christianity' published for the UK, so the endorsements here apply to the UK edition too.)
"Jesus did not mince words and neither do Shane and Tony. The Good News of the Gospels is that Jesus guides us with lessons that are abundantly clear; there are no ambiguities, no rationalization of war, oppression, wealth, or of the disgraceful economic divide that threatens to consume us. In Red Letter Revolution, the uncompromised truth of Jesus' teachings are given voice by two modern-day Christian leaders who do more than preach this Good News. They walk the talk and lead the way." - Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
"This book, by a young and an elderly Christian, will help you decide how we Christians could change the world if we took the ‘red letter’ words of Jesus literally and seriously." - President Jimmy Carter.
"Reading two of my favourite authors banter back and forth about Jesus and the set-apart life challenged me in all the best ways. What does it mean to honor Jesus’ legacy on the mean streets of this world? And how can I be as winsome as Jesus? This book frames a new way of walking out our Christianity and invites us to be different." — Mary DeMuth, author of Everything: What You Gain and What You Give to Become Like Jesus.
"The conversation between Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo, well known for their clear evangelical witness on the front lines of poverty, justice, discrimination, and economics in America, is a generous invitation to us to join their conversation as they take the words of Jesus serious, literally, and obediently. Red Letter Revolution is an adrenaline-producing conversation with prophetic bite." - Eugene H. Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology, Regent College and author of The Message Bible.
"I started reading this book and couldn't stop. Now Red Letter Revolution travels with me everywhere I go—Rome, Ukraine, Jordan, Lebanon. I read it as a book of spiritual guidance, and urge others to do the same. Thank you, Tony and Shane . . . Thank you for this book. May the movement spread around the world. I thank you for expressing yourselves with inclusive views of our Christianity without any kind of compromising the power of the Lord’s message." - Abuna Elias Chacour Melkite Catholic Archbishop of Galilee.
"Shane and Tony? Talking freely and honestly about almost everything under the sun-telling stories, quoting stats, giving insights? Seriously? Now that's a book I'd give my friends..." - Rob Bell, author of Love Wins and Velvet Elvis.
"In their own unique ways, Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo have reinvigorated the debates around life, politics and theology. This is an exciting collaboration and conversation between two people truly committed to living out what Jesus teaches in the Scriptures, and in Red Letter Revolution, they are challenging us to do the same. Both Tony and Shane are friends I deeply respect and admire. This is a must-read book for anyone who is seeking to take Jesus’ call on their lives seriously." - Jim Wallis, founder and editor of Sojourners magazine.
"Few people have touched the conscience of the church - or that of myself and my own family - like Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne. But the passion that flows through them that matters most is the passion of Jesus for so many on the margins of life who are urgently loved by the One who - though He was rich - yet He became poor for our sakes. I am grateful for their work and thought and lives. May the words of Jesus grip the world once more with the urgent conviction of impatient love." - John Ortberg, author, speaker, and senior pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church.
"Eavesdrop on a conversation between two of the Christianity's great storytellers Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo. Take time to truly glean from the decades of wisdom and service that Tony freely offers as he engages Shane's awe-shucks styled wisdom and joy for life. This book embodies why both continue to be critical voices in today’s spiritual landscape. Well done gentlemen." - Jimmy Spencer Jr, founder, Love Without Agenda.
"Muslims revere Jesus as a messenger of God. In Red Letter Revolution, Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo demonstrate how Jesus' words and example apply to our broken world today. Claiborne and Campolo remind us that Jesus was the champion of the poor, the despised, and the outcast, rather than the powerful or the wealthy. Muslims have a deep respect for Jesus, and we know the world would be a better place if Christians took his words seriously. This book does just that." - Sami Rasouli, Muslim Peacemaker Teams, Najaf, Iraq.
"Red Letter Revolution will challenge you and launch you into our world as an agent of transformation, a pursuer of justice, a lover of people, and an all-out follower of Jesus." - Rev. Oreon Trickey, associate pastor of Congregational Life, LaSalle Street Church, Chicago.
“If you ever wished you could eavesdrop on a conversation with two of the world's most interesting and inspiring Christians, just turn to page one.” —Brian D. McLaren, author/speaker
This book is written by two American authors, Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne, published in America under the title ‘Red Letter Revolution’. These facts shouldn’t put you off reading it. Certainly it’s written in a way Americans will understand. And Shane’s previous books have displayed some of these qualities - especially in relation to the American political scene. However, this book is first and foremost about Jesus. These authors are trying to bring us back to the red printed words of Jesus Christ, found in the New Testament.
The theology and practice of ‘red letter Christians’ is derived from Jesus’ words recorded in Scripture. This is not to say that the rest of the Bible - rather, it sees this promised Messiah as the focal point of God’s Word and seeks to challenge people to heed his teaching and by the Holy Spirit, to live lives that reflect him. The authors are very frank, and seek to confront contemporary church issues with the relevant teachings of Jesus. These issues are not exclusive to America - debate over the issues of abortion and homosexuality (as examples) rage across the UK. Thus, you can be confident that this book is hugely relevant to UK readers.
The Definition of Revolution: As a history student, I come across the term ‘revolution’ fairly regularly. In recent times its meaning has been devalued to simply mean ‘change’. However, looking at the origins of the word, we can gain a greater insight into what it should mean. Revolution - from the Latin revolution - literally means to turn around, to return.
Across ‘the pond’ - where this book was first published, it’s called ‘Red Letter Revolution’. I think this title is more appropriate than the British title because the authors are trying to bring us back around to an original realisation of the teachings of Jesus, and the literal following of his instructions. The authors argue that we - as contemporary Christians, have become numb to the teachings of Jesus, quoting Ghandi’s comment, ‘Everyone knew what Jesus meant in the Sermon on the Mount, except Christians’.
Contemporary and Relevant: The book is split into three main parts - Red Letter Theology, Red Letter Living and Red Letter World. The first section explains where Red Letter Christians stand on subjects such as community, the Church, economics and Hell. These wider issues are massively relevant, and are explained with clarity and directness. Though the movement is non-denominational, some refer to Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne as ‘progressive evangelicals’.
The second section confronts head on issues that are often a bit closer to home. These include attitudes towards family, environmentalism and giving, as well as the prominent talking points such as pro-life issues, abortion and homosexuality. The authors try to explain the relevance of Jesus’ teaching to such issues, also recounting stories of their personal encounters and experiences.
The third section - ‘Red Letter World’ - addresses wider issues that are particularly relevant in the context of the 21st century. The topics of politics, war and violence, the Middle East, the Global Church, missions and resurrection are, among others, discussed by the authors as they again seek to apply Jesus’ teaching to such issues.
So What? I highly recommend that you purchase a copy of ‘Red Letter Christianity’ - I hope that this piece has gone some way towards explaining the excellent content that these two brilliant authors bring. If you choose to read ‘Red Letter Christianity’ then you are sure to be challenged, informed and inspired. – Pete Harrison
For red letter Christians, the Bible is essentially a book of healing. It’s about restoration not retribution. Where many have come to accept that Jesus died to save mankind from a wrathful God, Red Letter Christians see this view as a contradiction of everything Jesus taught about his father God. The goal of Red Letter Christians is to honour Jesus by living out this radical, counter-cultural teaching through the lifestyle described in his ‘Sermon on the Mount’.
The label Red Letter Christian is attributed to a Nashville country-and-western DJ. Interviewing Jim Wallis - Christian writer, activist and founder/editor of Sojourners magazine, the DJ described Wallis as, “One of those Red-Letter Christians – you know, the ones who are really into all those New Testament verses that are in red letters!” When Jim Wallis replied, “That’s right!” he labelled all those who profess a commitment, first and foremost, to the biblical words directly attributed to Jesus, as Red Letter Christians.
Wallis, Campolo, Claiborne and other principle drivers of the movement insist that the message of those red-lettered Bible verses is radical. To make the point, Tony Campolo takes us directly to the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) where Jesus calls us away from consumerist values to an acute awareness of the needs of the poor. Here Jesus also calls us to be merciful, which has obvious strong implications in terms of war, social justice, all forms of discrimination and capital punishment.
The movement is non-denominational and stands against both left and right wing politicisation of the church and Christianity. Its response is to aim for the creation an evangelical movement focused on the teachings of Jesus Christ, in regard to the pressing social issues of our age rather than bogging the church down in the self destructive arguments over concerns such as abortion and homosexuality. Rather, Red Letter exponents believe Christians should be promoting biblical values that Jesus spoke of directly, such as peace, building strong families, the elimination of poverty.
Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo are doubtlessly the leading exponents of this approach to interpreting and applying the words of Jesus. They also believe that these ‘red letter’ issues should be political priorities for both liberals and conservatives.
On the motivation for creating the organisation, Red-Letter Christians, Tony Campolo said, "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." Amongst the books Campolo and his colleagues have released to help explain the concept is ‘Red Letter Christians, A Citizen's Guide to Faith and Politics’
Having laid out their manifesto, Claiborne and Campolo have opened minds to a new kind of Christianity, though they might call it the old kind. In this book ‘Red Letter Revolution’, they propose a Christianity that's fresh and a theology that’s real. This is a book about economics and society, but interesting. It's about the Jesus who longs to transform the world despite the embarrassing things his followers have done in his name. For conservatives and progressives, sceptics and believers, ‘Red Letter Revolution’ aims to undertake a world-shaping mission to understand how Jesus' words could change everything - if only Christians would give them the chance. – Les Ellison
Red Letter Christianity sees two American bestselling authors – Tony Campolo & Shane Claiborne – join forces for double the impact. Recognising they’re British fan base, they decided to book two plane tickets and organise a few events to publicise their joint writing venture.
America is Britain’s rich cousin when it comes to the Christian book industry. The American Christian marketplace is huge. Not just in book sales, but in music, film, clothing and gifts. In January 2012, the American Publishing Industry recorded $53.4 million in religious book sales, with overall sales reaching $503.5 million.
Compare that to the sales figures in the UK, a measly £4 million in adult fiction (which was the highest selling market). It’s fair to say that religious books take a thinner slice of the book sales pie in the UK than in the USA, but fortunately for us we can still enjoy all that the American Christian Marketplace has to offer with the joys of world licensing.
Hodder Faith bought the licensing rights for ‘Red Letter Revolution’ from Thomas Nelson, meaning they can sell the book with a different name and cover in the UK, which comes to our doorstep renamed – Red Letter Christianity.
Between 21st-23rd August 2012, Shane and Tony hit three UK churches with their message and red-stained book, inviting Rend Collective to accompany them. They stopped in Birkenhead, Southampton and Belfast before flying back over the Atlantic. They also stopped off at Fiona Julian’s recording studio for a half hour interview about their book, which you can find on YouTube.
Both authors and speakers regularly show their faces on British soil, keeping the relationship with the UK up-to-date. Tony regularly teams up with Graham Kendrick, having booked 10 events across the UK in 2012 for ‘Compassion presents... An Evening with Kendrick and Campolo’. Whilst Shane led an 11 event tour called ‘The Up-Side-Down Kingdom Tour’ in 2011 and is a regular speaker at Greenbelt Festival.
Both frequent flyers, Shane and Tony obviously see potential in our humble country. They’ve tasted our tea cakes and crumpets, smelt the luscious countryside and seen our crippled Church and spiritually hungry nation. And we at Eden.co.uk think they genuinely want to give us a helping hand. Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting either Tony or Shane can testify to their solid faith and down-to-earth personalities. But most of all, they’ll say they have a fiery passion for social justice and desire to transform our world. - James Warwood
|Page last updated||11th April 2013|
|Author / Artist||Shane Claiborne; Tony Campolo|
|Publisher||Hodder & Stoughton (September 2012)|
|Number of Pages||288|