The term “Evangelical” has been given meanings it does not deserve. In most secular settings, if you define yourself as an Evangelical, certain assumptions will be made about you that may not be true. There may even be assumptions that you resent.

Recently on the campus of an Ivy League university, I asked some students what they thought Evangelicals believed. None of them gave and indication that they defined evangelicals by their theological convictions. Instead, the general consensus among these students was that Evangelicals are those Christians who are anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-environmentalists, anti-immigration, anti-gun-control, pro-war, right-wing ideologues. There is little doubt that the secular media is largely responsible for this view of Evangelicals, in that it has chosen those who espouse such convictions to be the Evangelical spokespersons. The press seldom turns to political moderates when they want comments on religiously charged social issues.

Challenging the popular image of Evangelicals is one of the purposes of this movement. I want it to be known that there are millions of us who espouse an evangelical theology, but who reject being classified as part of the Religious Right. We don’t want to make Jesus into a Republican.

On the other hand, we want to say loud and clear that we don’t want to make Jesus into a Democrat, either.

Early twentieth-century playwright and social critic George Bernard Shaw once said that God created us in His image-and we decided to return the favor! Clearly there are some on the Religious Right who would make Jesus into a Republican and an incarnation of their political values. And on the other side of the aisle, there are those that would make Jesus into a Democrat who espouses their particular liberal agenda. But Jesus refuses to fit into any of our political ideologies. Transcending partisan politics, Jesus calls us to make judgments about social issues as best we can when we vote, and to do so in accord with our best understanding of God’s will. In doing so, we are to avoid partisan politics that lead to unnecessary, unproductive and even dangerous divisions.

At election time when you are asked, “Are you a Democrat or a Republican?” your answer should be, “Name the issue!” On any specific social or political issue, you must be ready and willing to work out which party and/or candidate best represents your convictions.

We begin by declaring loud and clear that we embrace the essentials that define Christianity.

First, Red Letter Christians hold to the same theological convictions that define Evangelicals. We believe in the doctrines set down in the Apostles’ Creed, which states the central beliefs the church has held over centuries:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord;

who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried;

He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;

He ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand

of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come

to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church;

the communion of the saints; the forgiveness of sins;

the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.

 

Second, we are Christians with a very high view of Scripture. The writers of Scripture, we believe, were invaded by the Holy Spirit and were uniquely guided by God as they wrote, providing us with an infallible guide for faith and practice. We emphasize the “red letters’ because we believe that you can only understand the rest of the Bible when you read it from the perspective provided by Christ.

Third-and this is most important-we claim that the historical Jesus can be alive and present to each and every person, and that salvation depends on yielding to Him and inviting Him to be a vital, transforming presence in our lives. The same Son of God described in the Apostles’ Creed will spiritually invade any of us who will receive Him (see John1:12) to initiate in us an ongoing process whereby we are transformed into persons who are increasingly like Him (see 1 John 3:2).

The goal of Red Letter Christians is simple: To 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 message of those red-lettered Bible verses is radical, to say the least. If you don’t believe me, just take a few minutes to read Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). In it, Jesus calls us away from the consumerist values that dominate contemporary America. Instead, he calls us to meet the needs of the poor. He also calls us to be merciful, which has strong implications in terms of war and capital punishment. After all, when Jesus tells us to love our enemies, he probably means we shouldn’t kill them.

On this blog, I am going to do my best to introduce you to people and ideas that will inspire, encourage, and equip you to better follow Jesus as a Red Letter Christian. Please, let me know if it helps. And above all…keep the faith!


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  • http://www.facebook.com/awvogel Amy Wakefield Vogel

    I read about your group/movement in A.J. Jacobs’ book – The Year of Living Biblically. As an evangelical who is more than just a little disenchanted with those who say, in the media, that they represent my thinking, but don’t, I really appreciate what I’ve learned so far about RLC. I look forward to learning more about how you are connecting people with the REAL Jesus – and striving to follow His example. I’ve definitely liking what I hear about being a RLC!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonny.carroll.5 Jonny Carroll

    So incredibly moved by what is happening here. I am proud to support this movement, and can’t help but feel that it will be a significant part of my future, in one fashion or another. Thank you all who are a part of this. May we have the courage it takes to be radical red letter-ers.

  • Al

    Funny that I have not read about the thirteenth apostle to be called. I refer to the apostle Paul. Was he or was he not given a gospel of grace by our Lord?

  • Michael E McDougall

    It seems that the RLC movement is more concerned about social justice than the Gospel. I know that cannot be true, but why does it seem that way?

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