Is Stephen Colbert a Red Letter Christian?

Stephen Colbert

If you didn’t get a chance to see Stephen Colbert talk about Christmas on Comedy Central you missed something special. It’s a bit edgy and has somewhat of a political partisan bias, and we Red Letter Christians do try to be non-partisan, but in terms of getting a good insight into the radical nature of Red Letter Christianity, nothing you have been watching on television will measure up to him.

In these two little rips about living out the message of Jesus, Stephen Colbert makes it clear (in his own special way) that for most of us middle class Americans the words of Jesus seem to be impractical especially what Jesus says within the Sermon on the Mount. His irony and sarcasm might upset some but for all of us he says some things that contrast the words of Jesus with the dominant values of Christmas in our affluent society.

Or as Stephen says, “if this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition — and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”

Despite the irony and sarcasm, Stephen Colbert’s message in these two clips is one that all Christians should take to heart. Namely, that caring for the poor despite its profit for us or its sensibility in our minds is something we must do.

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Enjoy the video and make sure to stay around for his grand finale!

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Tony Campolo

Tony CampoloTony Campolo is 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 →

  • There’s so many better reporters (whatever you want to call Colbert) out there to make an example of. Colbert countlessly mocks Christ, Christians & especially when Christians take stands. Pretty disappointed you shed such positive light on this. You’re trying to sound so philosophical with yet another Colbert satire. Don’t look too far into things that aren’t supposed to be; this is sarcasm, and very offensive sarcasm.

    • Arwilson

      Colbert is an observant Catholic and teaches catechism as his church.

    • Jedidiah Esposito

      I think if you understood the things Colbert is actually saying you’d change your tune. He mocks people who call themselves Christian yet have no idea what it means to be one in practice. He mocks democrats and republicans the same. What he really mocks is stupidity and hypocrisy. Christ got mad at Jewish leaders for refusing to ‘work’ on the Sabbath when ‘work’ was saving a man. Ridiculous, right? 
      Colbert is only pointing out the same hypocrisy. He might dress Jesus up funny and say things that aren’t true (sarcastically – obviously) but he is doing so in order to prove a point that the vast majority of modern Christian thought and action do not align with what Jesus actually said.

      Steven Colbert is more a Christian than many of the Christians I know.

      • Random_acct

        Everyone is a hypocrite to some degree. It’s part or being human.

    • Danielle, I think things like this call for humility rather than defensiveness.

      As a Christian, I don’t feel I need protection if the world chooses to be “offensive” to me or my Lord. Jesus deserves all of our love and honour, as disciples, but we can’t expect (as seen from even his own lifetime) others to act the same. And I think a lot of our ideas of “offensive” are rooted in archaic notions of being struck by lightning for something we’ve said or done.Furthermore, in humility I should be able to listen to the satire and pull out what is truth. There is a lot there. Stephen is right: either we’re wrong about Jesus’ message, or we’re wrong about how we’re responding to it. Does that make more sense to be offended by the messenger of that message, or to listen to the truth within it? I think the second.

    • Dr-D

      You want him to deadpan preach to his audience when they will ignore his words? If you believe God created him then why would you not think he created him to use humor and sarcasm to point out the selfishness in people who want others to think they follow the teachings of Christ?
      Perhaps you are one of the people he was criticizing, maybe that is what is stinging you a little?

  • Katie Osweiler

    Wow.  That last bit was amazing. 

  • Pingback: Steven Colbert on Christian love, deservingness, and politics | Black, White and Gray()

  • geust

    your faiths are pathetic
    when the masses become educated your lies of god will fall
    when your lord does not return it will be science that prevails
    there is no proof of god your book of lies will burn when you all
    kill eachother

    when the world is rid of god, there will be peace.

  • Dana

    We have many Christians in our nation, but we are not a “Christian Nation”, or we would never have chosen most of the leaders we have and we would not have many of the laws we have today. Has Stephen Colbert investigated our churches and how much support and help is given to the poor? Most of us Christians are very selfish, but Christ certainly wasn’t. I imagine that Colbert is alluding to the conservative viewpoint a lot of Christians have about over-taxation, and because we want less taxation we will therefore have less money for social programs. Christ was all for giving from our hearts and we are commanded to do that. He never brought the government into his discussion on helping others, and I can’t imagine that Christ would agree that we should be forced to give to the poor through the government. God gave us our free will and as Christians we should give what God asked of us, and more, through our OWN CHOICE and through obedience to God.

    • Traci

      “I can’t imagine that Christ would agree that we should be forced to give to the poor through the government.”

      You don’t think God could use a secular government just as easily (possibly easier) than he could use Christian organizations?

      • Jedidiah

        I think the issue is less about who is doing the “giving” and how “giving” is defined.

        Charity is what Christ uses and it isn’t something that can be provided through mandate.

        Giving money because I have to is not the same as giving money because my heart longs to serve God. All through the bible Jesus speaks about the condition of our hearts in regard to the things we do.

        I like Colbert and I don’t think he’s exactly suggesting that we should mandate “giving”… I think he’s just calling out some incredible selfishness and, frankly, stupidity in regard to the ludicrously polar end of the legitimate argument I’ve given above.

    • Greg Dill

      Yes, Colbert was ridiculing the conservative viewpoint… and rightly so. Since it is they who think they always have a claim on Jesus.

  • Josh Shanholtz

    Is Obama still raping kids to death @ Bohemian Grove or just the high priest? What pagan sun year is this again? Has Illuminati built the third temple yet? “I need $ to help the Poor” = Im dead inside and Moloch is my Daddy.. Welcome to the end of days 😉

  • Christopher Benek

    I think that there is a difference between giving to the poor out of virtue via formation rather than mandated state coercion. Colbert doesn’t make this important distinction. Replace “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor…” with “If we are going to be Christians who don’t help the poor…” – and then I agree.

  • Patrick Holt

    “…this video is unavailable from your location.” Is it up on Youtube?

  • tim

    Disappointed but not surprised.

  • Digger

    “and we Red Letter Christians do try to be non-partisan”. Hahaha. Liar.

  • createdsome

    YIKES….someone tell COLBERT stop being the court jester…..i am not sure if i want this JESUS around…i am just too comfortable to have him that close…..I wouldnt call jesus a liberal democrate because Jesus seems like he is not wish wasy about anything….COLBERT you SCARE ME!!!!

  • Rkc

    Caring for the poor isn’t the same as having your money confiscated by liberals so they can buy the pools votes

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