taking the words of Jesus seriously

There are several Christian universities that hold to many of the socially progressive beliefs that are embodied in the Red Letter Christians movement — but few embody them better than Eastern University. It is there at Eastern, located in St. Davids, Penn., that our movement was birthed and it is there that promoting Red Letter Christianity is given the encouraging support that it needs for the years that lie ahead.

Here are some reasons why I sing the praises of Eastern:

1.  Ron Sider, author of the Christian classic, “Rich Christians in a World of Hunger,” has been a primary leader in sensitizing the Church to its biblical obligations to serve the poor and has taught at Eastern for more than three decades.

2.  Eastern is the alma mater of Shane Claiborne whose book, “The Irresistible Revolution,” has become a primary text for counter-cultural Christianity. Shane continues to be a part of the Eastern community and will team-teach a course with me.

3.  It was the home of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, which founded a variety of holistic missionary programs that have reached out with ministries to tens of thousands of poor and oppressed people in developing countries and in urban neighborhoods across North America.

4.  Eastern presently houses the headquarters of Evangelicals for Social Action, a ministry that has done much to help evangelicals embrace a holistic gospel.

In addition to programs in Women’s Studies and cross-cultural training for missionaries, Eastern created the first MBA and MA programs for job creation on behalf of the poor of the world. Our graduates are working among the poor in both urban America and in developing nations. They have nurtured micro businesses and cottage industries for more than a quarter of a million economically oppressed people around the world. These are entrepreneurial programs that indigenous people own and run themselves.

Our faculty members have been at work promoting justice for both Israelis and Palestinians who live in the Holy Land, and right now are carrying on such research that addresses the needs of undocumented immigrants, promotes ecological projects that seek the renewal of the environment, and makes strong efforts on behalf of victims of America’s system of mass incarceration.

We are looking for potential students who not only want in-depth training as to how to implement a holistic gospel that embraces traditional evangelism and social concerns, but also are ready to participate from day one of their education in the work that God is doing through Eastern’s committed community.

If you can’t enroll yourself, tell others about Eastern. Go to the university website and check out our course offerings in social justice and economic development, in particular. Help spread the word about this university for Red Letter Christians!

About The Author


Tony Campolo is Professor of Sociology at Eastern University, and was formerly on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. For 40 years, he founded and led the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, an organization that created and supported programs serving needy communities in the Third World as well as in “at risk” neighborhoods across North America. More recently, Dr. Campolo has provided leadership for the Red Letter Christians movement. He blogs regularly at his own website. Tony and his wife Peggy live near Philadelphia, and have two children and four grandchildren.

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