taking the words of Jesus seriously


From time to time it is critical that we make clear what Red Letter Christianity is all about. So here goes:


1st – Evangelical Christianity has done well in articulating a theological orthodoxy largely deduced from the Epistles of Paul; but it seriously failed to put enough emphasis on the teachings of Jesus—which are highlighted in red letters in many of our Bibles.


The evidence of that imbalance is the support that too many Evangelicals, but by no means all, give to capital punishment; to affirming an affluent middle-class lifestyle instead of promoting the simplicity which emphasizes sacrificing for the poor, as preached by Jesus; as well as their reluctance to speak prophetically against war. These all point to a need for a new movement that refuses to compromise with cultural religion of Americanism.


2nd—the label “Evangelical” has been regularly identified in the media as being anti-women; anti-gay; anti-environmentalism; pro-war; pro-gun lobby; and espousing a patriotism that verges on idolatry. Jesus is not a Republican, nor is He a Democrat. As a matter of fact, Jesus is not even an American! He transcends such political and nationalistic identities and calls for all such principalities and powers to be subject to Him.


The label “Evangelical” has been so distorted in the popular culture that we felt we had to come up with a new designation as to who we are—hence we call ourselves “Red Letter Christians.”


3rd—To those who argue that we act as though the red letters in the Bible are more important than the black letters, we say, “You’re right!” Not only do we say so, but Jesus said so (read Matthew 6). What is more, we are convinced that the black letters in the Bible cannot be understood unless you read them through the Jesus you find in the red letters.


4th—In short, Red Letter Christianity is a call to RADICAL DISCIPLESHIP. Our churches are filled with believers, but with few disciples. Jesus said, “You are my disciples if you do whatsoever I command you.” Red Letter Christianity is about doing what Jesus commanded us to do.


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.

Related Posts

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.


Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
    Check which Newsletter(s) you'd like to receive:    

You have Successfully Subscribed!