Is Evangelicalism Headed for a Split?

Evangelical Split

When the Red Letter Christian movement got underway, there was a sense that the Evangelical community, in general, had become overly focused on the theological issues raised in the Pauline Epistles.  Without any desire to diminish the significance of theology, we recognized that the time had come to create some balance to this overemphasis on theology by taking more seriously the things that were written in the Gospels—especially in those red letters which emphasize the words of Jesus.  There was a growing awareness that Evangelicals, with the exception of people like many in the Anabaptist tradition, had sought to escape those hard sayings of Christ in respect to lifestyles.

Examples of this are easy to find.  There has been a minimizing of the Beatitudes which call upon us to be merciful.  A survey of Evangelicals suggests that the majority of them believe in capital punishment, and if a capital crime is committed they advocate capital punishment.  This, to many of us, seemed to be a violation of Jesus’ saying, “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”

Most Evangelicals have been very supportive of recent war efforts of the United States, almost seeming to suggest that our armies marching into Afghanistan and Iraq had the right to be singing, “Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war…”  More simply put, Evangelicals did not seem to be willing to ask what Jesus was talking about when He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.”  Nor was there any sense that when Jesus told us to love our enemies, He probably meant we shouldn’t kill them.  The militarism which most Evangelicals support seems to run contrary to the beliefs of those Christians who take the red letters seriously and contend that one cannot read the Sermon on the Mount without coming away convinced that Christians should be committed to non-violent resistance.

Furthermore, Evangelicals have been reluctant to face up to the clear message of Jesus in Mark 10, that to be called to be Christ’s disciple is to be called to make a radical response to the poor by selling one’s possessions and giving the money to the poor.  It is in this vein of thinking that Shane Claiborne and I wrote a recently published book, Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?

Related: Love Wins – A New Split in Protestant Evangelicalism by Jimmy Spencer Jr.

The difference of emphasis between those of us who want to take literally the red letters of the Bible and those who emphasize the teachings of the Apostle Paul (not that there is contradiction between the two) is only the beginning of the coming split within the Evangelical community.

Increasingly, among a significant proportion of the Evangelical community, especially among young people, there is a growing acceptance of monogamous, committed relationships for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people.  It’s not that they have become liberal on this issue, but that they do not hold it up as a defining issue.  Statistical analysis gives evidence that every year more and more of those who call themselves Evangelicals, while still maintaining a conservative mindset on the issue of gay marriage, want to divorce themselves from a church that has labeled LGBT persons as “abominations,” and refused to give them acceptance within the church.

On the other hand, those at the most conservative end of the political/theological spectrum of the Evangelical community have made this issue so important that they want to separate from those in the Evangelical community with whom they disagree, and leave churches that are welcoming and affirming of LGBT persons.

Abortion has also become an issue in which we see strong differences of opinion among Evangelicals.  There are those who believe that the answer to the high numbers of abortions performed each year here in America is to make abortions illegal once again.  On the other side, there are those who are upset with abortion having become an alternate form of birth control, but do not see the solution in legislation since, according to one study, 73 percent of all the abortions performed in America are economically driven. They want to see a rise in the minimum wage, universal healthcare for all Americans, pre- and post-natal care for mothers (especially single mothers), and provisions for leaves of absence without loss of employment for women who are having babies.  They also want daycare provided for mothers who have to be gainfully employed outside the home in order to support their children.

This latter group is mindful of the woman who may work at Wal-Mart for 35 hours a week at minimum wage.  Because she is not employed full-time (40 hours a week), she is not entitled to health benefits, and cannot afford the hospital costs that go with having a baby.  In addition, she is fearful of losing the only job she can get if she takes off time to have her baby. Then, when her baby is born, she doesn’t know who will care for the child when she goes back to work.  Given these kinds of circumstances, it’s easy to see why such a woman would have an abortion, in spite of moral constraints that might exist within her conscience.

There is also another force that may be moving Evangelicalism to a split, and that is that there are those who call themselves Christians who do not have what mainstream Evangelicals would consider a high enough view of Scripture.  We’ve met people who are not sure who authored many of the books of the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible).  Some who are at the liberal end of the Evangelical spectrum raise questions about what is recorded in the red letters of the Bible.  They are not sure that Jesus really did say all that is written in those red letters.  They buy into Marcus Borg and the Jesus Seminar and believe that the apostles and other writers of the Scripture may have embellished the stories of Jesus in order to increase credibility when they declared Him to the outside world.  Obviously, mainstream Evangelicalism would say that brothers and sisters who hold to such views should not be called Evangelicals, but the problem is that many of those who do hold to these views do call themselves Evangelicals.

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Then there is the matter of music.  Some in the Evangelical community have moved out of Evangelical churches simply because they feel that the worship is superficial.  They listen to the same worship songs, sung while standing for a half hour, Sunday after Sunday, and ask if there are not other forms of worship that would be more meaningful to them.  Many have moved into churches in the Orthodox community.  Orthodox churches are gaining members from the Evangelical ranks on an almost weekly basis.  Some Evangelicals have moved into Catholicism because the liturgy of churches in the Catholic tradition proves to be more meaningful to them than the kind of worship that goes on in most Evangelical churches.

Finally, there is a political divide insofar as a significant majority of Evangelicals operate under the assumption that if you are not committed to the Republican Party, you can hardly call yourself an Evangelical, and perhaps you even ought not to call yourself a Christian. I have heard, as all of us have, certain voices who have suggested that to be a Christian is, post facto, to be a Republican, given what the Republican Party stands for and what the Democratic Party stands for.  Needless to say, there are a number of Evangelicals who disagree with that kind of judgment.

Also by Tony: Why ‘Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin’ Doesn’t Work

Given all of these factors, you can understand that I think it is only a matter of time before there is a split in the Evangelical ranks because, in so many ways, the word, both theologically and politically, has become ambiguous.  I don’t think that Red Letter Christianity is ready to ally itself with either side of the split when the split does come.

What those of us in the Red Letter Christian tradition are trying to do is simply to elevate the radical lifestyle that Jesus taught as a necessary balance to the theological discussions that emerge out of Pauline theology and to challenge the church to affirm a lifestyle that will make its members countercultural who do not identify Christianity with capitalism, nationalism, and middle-class affluence.  The values inherent in such things stand contrary, in our minds, to what Jesus calls us to be.

Most of us, if not all, would contend that we love America.  We may call America “Babylon,” but we believe it’s the best Babylon on the face of the earth.  Nevertheless, it is still Babylon, and we sense a call bidding us not to be conformed to this world.

Richard Thornton / Shutterstock.com




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About the Author

Tony Campolo

Tony CampoloTony Campolo is the Founder and President of EAPE and Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Eastern University. Look for Tony in your area and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.View all posts by Tony Campolo →

  • 22044

    Here’s the challenge for all: to have a proper framework for being followers of Christ.
    Sometimes I read the posts here, that would claim to put into form an application of the Red Letters, and discover that the authors only picked the Red Letters that they like, and end up proposing little that is helpful. Why would some of Jesus’ statements be useful, and others ignored or scorned…?

    • 22044

      To answer the question of whether there is a “split” in the church – the answer is emphatically no – the reality of a universal church with followers of Christ from every nation effectively puts that idea down.

  • http://twitter.com/ConneelyD Darach Conneely

    You need to check that quote in the second paragraph.

    • userRecovery

      Yeah, I am not a Christian an I found that use of Old Testament theology rather odd.

      Isn’t the thing that was attributed as Jesus’s words on the subject from Matthew? 5:38-39,iirc

      38 ‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
      39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also;

  • Ben Donahower

    It’s worth pointing out that these two views on abortion aren’t mutually exclusive:

    Abortion has also become an issue in which we see strong differences of opinion among Evangelicals. There are those who believe that the answer to the high numbers of abortions performed each year here in America is to make abortions illegal once again. On the other side, there are those who are upset with abortion having become an alternate form of birth control, but do not see the solution in legislation since, according to one study, 73 percent of all the abortions performed in America are economically driven. They want to see a rise in the minimum wage, universal healthcare for all Americans, pre- and post-natal care for mothers (especially single mothers), and provisions for leaves of absence without loss of employment for women who are having babies. They also want daycare provided for mothers who have to be gainfully employed outside the home in order to support their children.

    There are a handful of people in Congress who are pro-life but also support creating real options economically to mother and child.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=543663946 Danny Klopovic

    As an Anabaptist, my question is – so what? Evangelicals are not and never have been witnesses for Christ so why should those of us who are not Evangelical care about what the Evangelicals do?

    • otrotierra

      Because U.S. Evangelicals scream the loudest and presume to speak directly for God. Naming names becomes tiresome, but there are numerous examples in 2012 alone.

    • bluecenterlight

      I am an evangelical, but I love the Anabaptists, and find myself closer to them theologically. Don’t give up on us yet, some of us are still fighting :) You should care because God does.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=543663946 Danny Klopovic

        Well you do make a good point :) God does care – but God is much better at caring than I am! Still … you are right.

        • bluecenterlight

          Lol, believe me, I understand your frustration

    • http://nailtothedoor.blogspot.com Dan Martin

      I’m no Evangelical and have huge issues with many of their central concerns, but I really think your statement is overly harsh: Evangelicals have often been witnesses for Christ, however flawed or imperfect that witness may be. The public face of Evangelicalism, I would agree, misrepresents God on a colossal level…but “Evangelicals are not and never have been…???” That’s going too far.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=543663946 Danny Klopovic

        I grant that it is overly harsh – but it is tiresome and frustrating to say “I am a Christian but …” not like “those Evangelicals”. I must admit that in my quieter moments I will concur that there are Evangelicals who do witness for Christ but I still cannot help but think – at times – that they do so in spite of being Evangelical rather than because they are Evangelical

  • Ben Donahower

    Sadly, I wonder if what you are suggesting here is also happening substantially in reverse: “if you are not committed to the Republican Party, you can hardly call yourself an Evangelical.” Meaning, people really have a political ideology and that is the basis for their theology. If one opposes gay marriage and abortion, they go to a megachurch in the country and if they support gay marriage and are pro-choice, they go to a UU church in town.

    • Liz

      I agree !!

  • Liz

    I don’t want to give my vote ( I’m Canadian… Ha) to a president who allows abortion to be so easily accessed. I don’t know. As long as its our right to vote, shouldn’t we be Ambassadors if Jesus to the sickeningly large number of doomed voiceless babies? It’s a matter so important it would too my list. And I also believe if you’re pro life you should be-unquestioningly-adopting. Or supporting a teen mom financially. We shouldn’t need insurance. We should BE the insurance in this country.Thats radical.

    • 22044

      I like your ideas. :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/terri.knoll Terri Knoll

      I like your ideas too. However, (I am pro-life) we cannot rush to make abortion illegal. People forget that that would also hinder saving the life of a mother. and yes it is an all or nothing law. My sister in law had twin babies die at 10 weeks gestation. The no abortion law would have made her have to wait to expel the fetuses naturally which increases the risk of her getting an infection and dying. A D&C (abortion) saves many women’s lives each year. Tubal pregnancy abortions do also. I believe it’s education, adoption and supporting teen mothers that will slow the abortion rate.

      • Frank

        It does not have to be an all or nothing law. More restrictions, harder to get and the ability for doctors/families to make a decision when it is truly life threatening. There is a path forwrd without allowing over 21,000 innocent unborn children to be killed each week most for reasons of convenience and comfort.

        • DG

          In this climate more and more doctors are choosing not to Lear the procedure for fear of the repercussions. With less doctors knowing the intricacies of the procedure, it becomes harder to receive for even the people who are deemed to have “good” reasons for the procedure, putting the “good” women in harms way. Bottom line is yes it is an all or nothing situation and the losers are the women. It’s none of your (in the universal sense) business and imposing any kind or morality based restrictions on it renders it so.

          • Frank

            Good they should give it a second thought. It actually should be a specialist that women who are in medical need would get sent to.

            And yes its all of our business that our unborn children are being slaughtered at at alarming rate mostly for reason of comfort and convenience.

          • Marc Kivel

            I offer the thought, Frank, that perhaps if Christian communities committed to providing the post-natal support that is often not available to single, unwed mothers and their children abortions would be all but abolished….

          • Frank

            Its definitely sometime we should do but it will not eliminate the the darkness in humanities heart that would allow the killing of over 21,000 innocent unborn children each week mist for reasons of convenience and comfort.

            We need ti acre for people better as we make the killing harder and harder to achieve.

    • Scarlet

      What I think so many men fail to understand that getting an abortion is NOT easy under ANY circumstance. To act like women are just more than willing to do away with a life inside of them so willy nilly does a disservice to women all over the world. In many cases, it’s not because the woman is just a slut who wants to go on through life having as many wild orgies as she can while not considering the consequences. I want the dialog to STOP pretending like women consider abortion an easy answer. We should allow access to abortions simply because the process to decide to abort can be incredibly difficult and traumatizing in itself. We need to not just consider the poor innocent life of an unborn baby but ALSO the poor, innocent life of a mother who feels like she has no other option than to give up her child. We need to talk about why these women feel like they can’t be mothers and help the situation at the base level rather than victimizing women for making one of the hardest decisions of their life. How dare we allow abortions? How DARE we allow women to get to the place where they’re barely surviving so that they can’t raise their children. How about we start by giving financial support to woman who would be mothers, give them access to healthcare no matter their employment status. How about we create a society where we uplift and nurture and make it easy for a woman to say YES! I can be a single mother without sacrificing my own life! How about we start coming down on men who feel the need to run around knocking up woman because they’re too much of a jerk to use a condom. How about we start treating young men to respect woman and to stick around and help out, get a job, put a roof over the head of the mother and child?

      Ok, I’ve ranted long enough.

      • 22044

        Doing the right thing is rarely the easy thing. This is not a matter where that kind of proposed bargain is appropriate, if you claim to be pro-life.
        However, I agree with your calling out men who won’t be responsible.

  • Timothy Fowler

    Outstanding Tony!!! If our brothers and sisters would take seriously the below red letters Christ told the disciples as the last, most important thing just before going to the cross (John 13:34, 35) we’d all be better off…

    “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. BY-THIS-EVERYONE-WILL-KNOW that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

    I think He was saying (is saying) that the church should be known as having LOVE…that trumps everything…I hear him saying MAJOR on the MAJORS, and minor on the minors…we have lost HIS FOCUS.

    Tony, you’re kinda like the “anderson cooper” of the church…meaning….”keeping um’ honest!” Thank you for that…//

    If I read that above passage correctly – the whole secret/key/epiphany is…the church will see numbers grow….IF….we love one another…and are known for that. It’s time we take seriously the LORD’s prescription for what ails the world …

    “Salt” and “Light” are not optional…and can’t be done in a (church) vacuum ….

    Timothy Fowler
    timothyfowler@aol.com

  • otrotierra

    Thank you Tony Campolo and RLC for putting Jesus first. The legacies of Roman Imperialism and the Sanhedrin are alive and well, and the Evangelical split you speak of has probably already happened. It’s a slow fracture, but how far back should we trace it? The examples of rejecting and obscuring Jesus and his teachings are too numerous to count.

  • Paul Bergmann

    The split has already occurred thank God.

  • bluecenterlight

    Good Lord I hope there is a split! For all intents and purposes right wing evangelicalism has become the face of Christianity in America. I am so tired of feeling like I have to apologize for all the sins of the church when talking about Jesus to people. Believe me, the lost know the church looks nothing like Jesus. I pray that is remedied soon. Thanks Tony, for this article and all you do. Keep the faith brother :)

    • James

      Amen, brother.

    • Mick

      I would say you fit right in with the world and its view point . Your totally acceptable and your Gospel fits in quite well .

      • bluecenterlight

        1 Cor. 9:22,23 I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings

  • m477

    You know, I live in the deep Appalachian South in East Tennessee and while its easy to dismiss these churches as being “anti-gay” or only focused on abortion issues, I do think they take the message of Jesus very seriously. They visit the elderly in nursing homes, they build their own sense of community through car ministries, turkey hunts, and other events. I have been to extremely progressive churches in the North full of your limo-liberal university professor types who have all the correct thinking but also have many failures. I think what we need to strive towards as being a red letter christian is learning how to be a better neighbor to those around us, to those who do not theologically agree with us, to those we label homophobic or racist.

    Instead of asking if we are heading towards division, how can we make steps towards unity? How can we better engage those who we do not see eye to eye with what see. How can we learn to live better but still have differences?

    That’s all.

    • otrotierra

      Does rural Tennessee offer the world a model of taking steps toward unity and engaging difference? A suggestion for starters: lose your phobia of limo-university professors by meeting educators and researchers in the real world. Getting to know your neighbors is a good thing, and the fleet of limousines you fear will be nowhere in sight.

      • M477

        I think you are missing the point of what I am saying. As an extreme leftist from the north who went to grad school in the north who currently works in higher Ed, I am telling you that the climate of division that campolo is talking about isn’t true from my experience. Majority of the Christians I interact with are not on the brink of division, but yet they would be ones characterized by the above post. Cheers to you as we work together towards a better world.

        • otrotierra

          Thanks for the helpful clarification!

  • Confused

    I don’t understand when Tony writes this – “Furthermore, Evangelicals have been reluctant to face up to the clear message of Jesus in Mark 10, that to be called to be Christ’s disciple is to be called to make a radical response to the poor by selling one’s possessions and giving the money to the poor”

    If Tony felt that way, why did he live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood in St Davids, PA? Very, very few people could even afford such a house. Several years ago the cost was estimated at over $700K.

    • 22044

      Context is so important. I’m sure you already knew that… :)

      • ivory tower

        Please explain the context.

        • jim

          In general the people of the USA get a bit ticked off when we hear of the kind money CEO make, especially in relationship to the lowest paid person in the company.

          We get even more squeamish when we hear of someone banking some serious cash the is the director of a non profit.

          Those two arenas have high level of accountability thanks to the requirements of the IRS.

          But the area that should really make us choke, and is very very hidden is the income, perks, benefits, etc. of people of the cloth. Wouldn’t it be nice to know. Or would that be to much too handle.

  • ivorytower

    It will split along political lines, because politics has affected the church; the church has not affected politics. Moreover each side will point a self righteous finger at the other sigh with frustration that the other side just doesn’t get it.

  • James

    Tony, I first learned about your ministry when I was a student at Emory and Henry College in the 1970′s. My favorite professor was Dr. Douglas Boyce, and I believe that you are/were friends. I was saved into the Jesus movement in 1974 and realized from the start that being a follower of Jesus meant that every part of my life was subject to His scrutiny and that if my faith wasn’t radical, then it was probably not genuine. I remember those early days in the Lord with great fondness and tremendous joy in identifying myself as an Evangelical. I no longer consider myself an Evangelical, because it has come to mean something that I believe conflicts with being a Christ follower. Sometime in the mid to late 70′s, the boundaries between fundamentalism and evangelicalism became blurred and the two are now identical. Back then, the Evangelical church valued scholarship, integrity, truth, discipleship, and evangelism. I attended one of the very first Moral Majority meetings in Lynchburg in 1979, and saw the handwriting on the wall. It was the beginning of the death of what I knew and loved about Evangelicalism and was the beginning of the corruption of the American church. Over the last 30 years, I’ve seen the Evangelical church become nothing more than proponents of a culture war, led by people who have forgotten that all culture is man made and that God’s culture only comes through a willingness to give our identities over to Him completely and recognize how flawed we are. This same group has moved the focus from the need for personal and congregational repentance to an ill conceived demand that the unsaved world live by standards that they are entirely incapable of following, and are often not even biblical or moral themselves.

    Recently, in our community, an unarmed 54 year old Sunday School teacher was shot to death by a local police officer. All the evidence that came out was that the shooting was unprovoked and entirely indefensible. Our community, filled with Christians, was entirely silent as this man remained on the force. After 3 months, I started a petition calling for an indictment and a Facebook page calling for justice. The officer’s trial for murder begins in about 10 days. What surprised me the most was the utter silence from the Christian community. I bring this up because there are many in the Church who promote political action to address evil in the world. While I avoid that approach, I know that, sometimes, it is necessary. I believe that the things that we choose to advocate for say a lot about what we value. Also, when we choose, as Christians, to advocate politically, we sacrifice our ability to evangelize. While I care about the soul of the officer involved in this shooting, and for his family, I recognize that my call for justice ( both for him and the woman who was shot ) has limited my ability to speak to him about his need for Jesus. Because of that, I see the need to count the cost before becoming a political advocate on any issue, and am certainly aware that political advocacy has to always take a back seat to grace. The questions of what political causes the Church advocates and how we advocate say a tremendous amount about where our hearts lie. When we spend an inordinate amount of time, advocating against some perceived “war on religion”, then it seems that our concerns are more for ourselves than for others. When we are willing to take verses out of context in order to make an argument, based solely on emotions, to advocate against abortion, then we seem to be saying that the end justifies the means. When we blindly support political parties which don’t reflect the heart of Jesus, then we ally ourselves with the ruler of this world. The evangelical church needs to move away from the culture wars, and ask God to search our hearts and see if any wicked thing is there. In the meantime, I will not claim the moniker of Evangelical. I am a follower of Jesus.

  • I. E.

    I had Cognitive Dissonance before I got a hold of Red Letter Revolution, because, what the religious right in my church believed and how they behaved did not fit what I was learning about our Christ. How refreshing it was to see Tony and Shane so beautifully capture my thoughts about Christ and challenge me to walk deeper him. I think evangelicalism needs to split. If we truly practiced Christ’ instructions of loving our neighbors as he has loved us, more people will be flocking into his kingdom not flocking out of churches. Tony’s conclusion pretty much says it all:

    “What those of us in the Red Letter Christian tradition are trying to do is simply to elevate the radical lifestyle that Jesus taught as a necessary balance to the theological discussions that emerge out of Pauline theology and to challenge the church to affirm a lifestyle that will make its members countercultural who do not identify Christianity with capitalism, nationalism, and middle-class affluence. The values inherent in such things stand contrary, in our minds, to what Jesus calls us to be.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/rickmcopy Rick Middleton

    Yeah, sign me up. I wonder how it plays out — as an identifiable movement with a new name/label, or a slow morph into sub-camps (like how you find pockets of conservative Catholics and pockets of liberal Catholics, but both remain under a large umbrella)?

  • http://twitter.com/PennyCulliford Penny Culliford

    On abortion – “Given these kinds of circumstances, it’s easy to see why such a woman would have an abortion, in spite of moral constraints that might exist within her conscience.” The UK has free healthcare and maternity and other benefits, yet our abortion rate is still frighteningly high. Sadly, I’m not sure addressing these issues will make much difference.

    • 22044

      Thanks for the “report”.

    • Mick

      Penny I agree with you, before abortion became law of the land in this country , out of wedlock birth rates were about 10 percent or less. They have passed the 50 percent rate now , meaning you have a greater chance now of not having a married mom and dad if born in this country . Much higher in minorites. Health care is perhaps very important , but the fact is at one time minorities, poor and all of us had a culture that supported moms and dads .

      • Nancy Collins

        Also in the old days, when unwed motherhood was socially more unacceptable, girls gave their babies up for adoption much more than is done today. And people who couldn’t afford to support their children often gave them to family members to raise. I wouldn’t want this to be required nowadays, but as a social service ministry volunteer, I see so many pregnant girls and mothers who seem to have no support other than the government. It is sobering.

  • http://www.wineskins.org/ Keith Brenton

    Suggestion at the end of the second paragraph: Might be clearer if phrased “what Jesus said about ‘an eye for an eye’ …” What He actuall said begins:“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. ’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. ….”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=896630018 Robyn Widmer

    Would there be a distinct split into two entities or just an exodus from evangelicalism? I think we’ve seen the latter and will continue to see it. I don’t think the former is really likely.

  • http://www.facebook.com/randy.myers.1485 Randy Myers

    Tony and friends, just one note. While I readily and wholeheartedly identify as a Red Letter Christian, I do want to recognize that Paul was also thoroughly radical in his own time and ours (you don’t lose youre head by being a harmless, cerebral theologian). Drawing on Paul we learn that racism is not an option for any Christian, period. His entire message flew directly in the face of racism, classism, nation-worship, and consumerism. I know that he can be read otherwise, but I don’t believe such readings are consistent or faithful to his core.

  • Mick

    Interesting . When I supported Capital Punishment I thought it would help prevent further murders. I changed my my mind so can I fit in wit your church now Tony ? My belief against taking innocent life by means of abortion is not based on my political view of increasing government dependency , but it appears collectivism is a requirement to Tony. Not the church , but bigger government is the answer to our hearts . Interesting he really is against the politics of the believer , his argument is against politics . If you do not use the world with Tony’s perspective , you are Rome . Tony makes a good argument for why he is being seen more as a cult leader then a Evangelical leader. . He offers no charity to theses Christ Loving Brothers he disagrees with , his brand of of red letter selective Christianity offers no Gospel or context , politics is all , and his church is that of the world . Obviously in this culture he is widely looked upon by unbelievers as a welcome as a sundown . The light needs not get in your eyes , and their is nothing we need forgiveness for . Unless you are a believer . No Tony , read the whole Bible , you will find church unity not the Democratic or republican party is where it is at . The church is still helping those depended on drugs , from oxy to alcohol. The church is still helping those in poverty , from the immigrant to the widow. We are caring for the broken hearted , perhaps not up to your politics . But My Christ is stronger then your viewpoint . He will prevail .

  • glaborous_immolate

    “This, to many of us, seemed to be a violation of Jesus’ saying, “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.””

    LOLWUT. If that’s a saying of Jesus, then what’s wrong with the death penalty? I think you might want to correct that.

    • http://www.justindgentry.blogspot.com/ Justin Gentry

      I think he is referring to capitol crimes, not only murder. That is how I took it. It is a but confusing if you don’t read it carefully. Also a fuller look at the context of the verse makes it a little more clear what Jesus is saying.

  • jim

    Hi Tony,

    I wish you or anyone else could comment on the idea of unity versus lack of unity in the body of Christ. Back yonder in time, there were a group of believers, say about the book of Acts time. Then different movements and denominations were formed over the past 2000 years. I guess you theologs call it church history.

    So take a glance at us today.

    Would some one chime in with their views of the body today. May God lead your typing. Is unity in the body of Christ important? And is there much, or any?

    It would be great to hear from RLC writer.

  • http://nailtothedoor.blogspot.com Dan Martin

    And the most important sentence in your whole article, Tony, is this one: “I don’t think that Red Letter Christianity is ready to ally itself with either side of the split when the split does come.”

    That really encapsulates my frustration, as I have Scripturally-informed issues with both “sides” of the divide you’re describing, although as I look at the issues you list I’m not sure all of them even define only two “sides,” but perhaps as many as three or four different factions.

    But are those factions willing to come together and find a dynamic in which they can live and worship and work together? I’m suspecting mostly not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Westerman/1531760045 Chris Westerman

    There has been a split, but over other things. Many have left the evangelical church because upon further more in depth study have come to manifest speaking in tongues. And to believe that the Bible says unbelivers will be destroyed(perish), not receive eternal life to be tortured forever in a place called hell. . Also that the dead remanin dead until Christ returns—the Bible says death is an enemy–NOT a move to a better place. Last but not least, that God, the creator of the universe, did not turn into a man and go walking around on earth eating dinner with people. Many are finding the pagan origin of many beliefs in modern evangelicalism to be unacceptable and have left in droves for “home churches” where they are free to discover the truth of what the Bible really says.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Westerman/1531760045 Chris Westerman

      One more thing—if people would just do some REAL research into the Council of Nicea they would be amazed at what they would find.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Westerman/1531760045 Chris Westerman

    I cant think of anywhere in the Bible where Jesus says all his followers should sell all they have and give it to the poor. He demands this of one man only–not everyone. If he demanded it of everyone he would have told everyone to do it. And he clearly did not do this.

  • Nav22

    In the book “Why we are not emergent by two guys who probably should be” Kevin DeYoung has this great line addressing those who stress orthopraxy (right living) to an unhealthy extent over orthodoxy (right belief)—”they need to learn the genius of the word ‘and’ .”
    I think the comment fits the Red Letter folks. BTW—I dislike the idea of lifting up some of the Bible over others—When I hear of the Red Letter Christians I have a desire to find a Bible where all the letters are in red because Jesus is God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and thus Jesus was present and inspiring the Old Testament as well as the Pauline writings.
    I do support and affirm your work for the poor, for the ‘least of these’ in the world. It is a vital part of being God’s people. But we must not only reach out with the ‘cup of water’ but we must do so in the Name of Jesus, with the Gospel, so that those we serve in His Name also have an invitation to receive Living Water—otherwise, we simply make this life a bit easier to endure but do not reach out with what can bring them the great blessing in this life of being loved by God and part of His family–as well as the incredible gift of being part of God’s family for eternity.
    So, don’t separate orthopraxy with orthodoxy. Yes, there are many who stress orthodoxy too much at the expense of orthopraxy (DeYoung in his wonderful book addresses that problem as well).

  • Jared White

    Hmmm, red letter Christians sound a lot like Catholics. I pray this so-called split within evangelicalism may lead more of God’s people home to the one true church that still teaches and believes the same things it did 2000 years ago.

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