God's Politics

God's Politics


Stan Guthrie’s Red Letter Blues (by Tony Campolo)

posted by God's Politics

In response to Stan Guthrie’s article in the October 2007 Christianity Today, “When Red Is Blue: Why I Am Not A Red Letter Christian,” Tony Campolo wrote the following open letter as a response.


Dear Stan,


I have to say, “You got us right!” You said:


Though I own several Bibles with the words of Christ in red, I’ve always found the concept a bit iffy. After all, we evangelicals believe in the plenary, or full, inspiration of Scripture, don’t we? Setting off Jesus’ sayings this way seems to imply that they are more holy than what is printed in ordinary black ink. …[I]f all Scripture is God-breathed, then in principle Jesus’ inscripturated statements are no more God’s word to us than are those from Peter, Paul, and Mary – or Ezekiel.


While we, like you, have a very high view of the inspiration of Scripture and believe the Bible was divinely inspired, you are correct in accusing Red Letter Christians of giving the words of Jesus priority over all other passages of Scripture. What is more, we believe that you really cannot rightly interpret the rest of the Bible without first understanding who Jesus is, what he did, and what he said.


Likewise, we believe the morality in the red letters of Jesus transcends that found in the black letters set down in the Pentateuch, and I’m surprised you don’t agree. After all, Stan, didn’t Jesus himself make this same point in the Sermon on the Mount, when he said his teachings about marriage and divorce were to replace what Moses taught? Don’t you think his red-letter words about loving our enemies and doing good to those who hurt us represent a higher morality than the “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” kind of justice that we find in the Hebrew Testament? Is it really so hard to accept that, as God incarnate, Jesus set forth the highest law in the Bible, and therefore that law is more important than the Kosher dietary regulations we find in Leviticus and Deuteronomy?


You got us RLCs right again when you suggested we were anti-war, pro-environment, and deeply committed to ending poverty primarily because we believe Jesus is anti-war, pro-environment, and deeply committed to ending poverty. The only mistake you made was to imply that thinking this way – or trying to influence our government according to these values – makes us the Religious Left:


Unfortunately, the platform of Red Letter Christians always seems to come out of the wash blue, just as some other “nonpartisan” Christian groups consistently align with the Republicans.


That you think asking questions such as, “Do the candidates’ budget and tax policies reward the rich or show compassion for poor families?,” or “Do the candidates’ policies protect the creation or serve corporate interests that damage it?,” is partisan saddens us. We believe these are the questions that every Christian should be asking, no matter which political party or candidate has the better answers at a given time in history.


I’m sorry you don’t want to be one of us, Stan. In the struggle to convince our fellow believers to think, act, give, and vote according to the teachings of Jesus, we Red Letter Christians could really use a bright, articulate guy like you.



Sincerely,
Tony Campolo



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Don

posted October 9, 2007 at 10:53 am


Tony, since I cant’ read Stan Guthrie’s article yet, I don’t know for sure if this is what he’s doing. But from your response, it sounds a bit like it might be:
It sure would be a wonderful thing if people could get beyond the labeling and caracterizing. But I’m afraid it isn’t going to happen.
We can’t be just Christians. We have to be “liberal” or “leftist” Christians, or on the other hand “right-wing” Christians, because that allows those who disagree with us to dismiss what we are saying out of hand. It’s ironic, too, because I for one don’t consider myself to be politically “liberal” at all, at least not in the historic sense. Yet some have simply assumed that I am by the things I have written here.
But many thanks for pointing out that it really is possible to have dialogue without painting someone as “red” or “blue.” Even if it’s likely that few will do it.
Peace,



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Eric

posted October 9, 2007 at 11:16 am


What is the purpose of labeling oneself a “red-letter Christian”? What is wrong with just calling oneself a Christian and then describing how Christ’s teaching instructs your daily life?
That is my problem with this whole red-letter Christian thing. The self-proclaimed RLCs are setting themselves apart from other Christians for no real reason, at least that I can tell. I get the vibe from it that they consider themselves better Christians or more devoted Christians by saying “We’re RLCs and those other Christians aren’t; they don’t place a high enough priority on Jesus’ teachings.”



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Moderatelad

posted October 9, 2007 at 11:44 am


I have been taught by many wonderful people about the ‘inspired’ scriptured and that we must know the OT in order to understand the NT. That we should look at the OT with NT eyes. Most of the people that I worship with Love and desire peace, believe that we are to be good stweards of God’s Creation and work toward the ending of poverty by giving a hand up not always a hand out. Wallis and Co. has done a great job at brushing us conservatives not with a wisk broom but a street sweeper that we do not care about these things. That is not true. We desire peace but understand that we live in a fallen world and sometimes you need to be willing to wage war to keep the peace. If we had not – we would be speaking German or Japanese or some other language and be an occupied nation like many of the former Soviet Block nations. Many of us belong to not-for-profit organizations that purchase land so that it will remain available for wild-life to flurish. Yes – we also love to hunt and fish – but we maintain the levels so future generations will have the same ability that we have today to enjoy being out in God’s Country doing something that we enjoy. Not going to allow Gore to reek havoc on poor people and the US in general with his ‘carbon tax’. We also understand about being our brothers keeper and do are part. I wish I had the resources of a Ted Kennedy – I could do so much more. I would also keep my investments in the US and encourage business to grow and employ people. I would not move it off shore so that I escape US taxes like I have been told that Teddy has done.
So – just because some of us do not buy into the Sojo Montra does not mean we are not doing what we believe the Almighty desires us to do. Red Letter – Black Letter – I like them all, the ‘diversity and unity’ of Holy Writ.
Blessings –
.



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jesse

posted October 9, 2007 at 11:50 am


There are many problems with RLC’s, one of which is their inflated self-righteousness (as Eric pointed out). Other Christians don’t follow Christ’s teachings, get it?
The other, of course, is they pretend there are no disagreements about how to interpret Christ’s teachings as applied to the govt. If we are truly obedient to Christ’s teachings to care for the poor, then we must use the govt to do this in a specific way (bearing a strong resemblance to socialism). If we are truly “peace-makers”, then we must be pacifists, etc.
The whole enterprise is based on dishonest assumptions. There is no room for moderate or conservative Christians in their flock, for their religion is their politics and vice versa. I’ve heard Tony say that politics and religion mix like doodoo and ice cream. If only he believed what he was saying! Sorry, Tony, you are the Religious Left.



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Don

posted October 9, 2007 at 12:10 pm


“The whole enterprise is based on dishonest assumptions. There is no room for moderate or conservative Christians in their flock, for their religion is their politics and vice versa. I’ve heard Tony say that politics and religion mix like doodoo and ice cream. If only he believed what he was saying! Sorry, Tony, you are the Religious Left.”
Thank you, Jesse, for demonstrating my point.
D



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 9, 2007 at 12:29 pm


Other Christians don’t follow Christ’s teachings, get it?
Many, in fact, do not and have no intention of doing so — they follow a prefabricated ideology and force the Bible into it, and then if you don’t believe that your faith is questioned. (And I’m speaking specifically of “conservatives,” who in fact, aren’t truly conservative or orthodox at all, just authoritarian.)
The other, of course, is they pretend there are no disagreements about how to interpret Christ’s teachings as applied to the govt.
The fact that we’re even having this conversation suggests that there is indeed disagreement — but you forget that the conservative argument, which until recently has dominated the discourse, always has been that government has little, if any, role.



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jesse

posted October 9, 2007 at 12:32 pm


Don,
I think it would be great if we could be “just christians”, too. But the truth is that two people equally committed to Christ can approach the Bible and come to very different conclusions about the best way to help the poor, care for the environment, etc. Campolo doesn’t think so. I don’t believe my opinions on politics are infallible, so I can’t agree with him.



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joekc

posted October 9, 2007 at 12:43 pm


I have a couple of questions, raised by Mr. Campolo’s “rlc” self-designation. If one is a trinitarian Christian, that is, if one considers that the Holy Spirit is every bit as much God as Jesus was (and is) God, and that Jesus was (and is) every bit as much God as His Father, then why would anyone ascribe “special emphasis” to the red-letters that designate quotations of Jesus? I would think it would only be possible to do this if one did not somehow accept that the Holy Spirit empowered the “black-letter’ portions of the scriptures in equal prominence with the quotations of Jesus, is that right?
I do understand interpreting all the Old Testament through the “filter” of the new Testament – – that is why we designate the one as “old” and the other as “new, right?” But I honestly do not get separating out the “red-letter” sections of the new testament as somehow superior to any of the rest of the testament. It seems to me that failure to accept all teachings as of equal import implies that the Person of God the Spirit is somehow inferior to the Person of God, the Son. Question: what am I missing here?



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Jeff

posted October 9, 2007 at 12:45 pm


Rick,
The first paragraph of your post is ironic. I think you proved Jesse’s point in an emphatic way.
Jeff



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 9, 2007 at 12:57 pm


The first paragraph of your post is ironic. I think you proved Jesse’s point in an emphatic way.
Hardly. I personally had tried, especially in the 1980s, to point out the actual words of Christ to conservatives, in many cases Christian talk radio show hosts, and my comments were dismissed. (Oh, we used to get into some donnybrooks on the air!) That kind thrived on scapegoating and crusading, never mind that I knew that they were sabotaging Christian witness in the process.



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kevin s.

posted October 9, 2007 at 1:35 pm


“While we, like you, have a very high view of the inspiration of Scripture and believe the Bible was divinely inspired, you are correct in accusing Red Letter Christians of giving the words of Jesus priority over all other passages of Scripture.”
That is an interesting revelation. What is the scriptural basis for this, and why is it even necessary? I have no problem accepting everything Jesus said as truth (and neither, I suspect, would Guthrie), but this statement implies that other passages of the Bible are somehow less important or true.
This raises a question as to what Campolo means by “divinely inspired”. Presumably he means by this that God inspired all of scripture. As such, why are the passages spoken by Christ any more or less important than those spoken by Paul? Everything God inspires is important, and certainly true.
“That you think asking questions such as, “Do the candidates’ budget and tax policies reward the rich or show compassion for poor families?,” or “Do the candidates’ policies protect the creation or serve corporate interests that damage it?,” is partisan saddens us.
The questions themselves are not partisan. However, the false choise they present force us to answer in a manner that is favorable to a left-leaning ideology. A non-partisan rendering of the questions might read “Do the candidates budget and tax policies place an undue burden on the poor?” and “Do the candidates’ enivironmental policies reflect concern for God’s creation?”
Even the latter questions would reflect a liberal bias, insofar as they commoditize a commitment to increase governmental regulation and entitlements. But at least they wouldn’t make your claim to non-partisanship quite so transparently dishonest.
“And I’m speaking specifically of “conservatives,””
Yeah, we got that part, Rick…
“But many thanks for pointing out that it really is possible to have dialogue without painting someone as “red” or “blue.” Even if it’s likely that few will do it.”
What was the title of Wallis’ book, Don? Did you read it? He compares those who support the President to those who have taken the mark of the beast. Granted, he avoid “labels” while doing so, but there are worst things than labels.



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 9, 2007 at 1:39 pm


It seems to me that failure to accept all teachings as of equal import implies that the Person of God the Spirit is somehow inferior to the Person of God, the Son. Question: what am I missing here?
Some years ago my pastor put it best: The Holy Spirit is the “press agent” for Christ; His only roles are to illumine the Father’s words and to enable people to do the works of Christ to fulfill ministry. Going beyond that can lead to idolatry, because it often focuses upon what the Spirit does rather than Who He is.



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Don

posted October 9, 2007 at 1:46 pm


Jesse, you don’t get my point. I wrote:
“It sure would be a wonderful thing if people could get beyond the labeling and caracterizing. But I’m afraid it isn’t going to happen.
We can’t be just Christians. We have to be “liberal” or “leftist” Christians, or on the other hand “right-wing” Christians, because that allows those who disagree with us to dismiss what we are saying out of hand.”
You wrote:
“Sorry Tony, you are the Religious Left.”
Later, you wrote:
“I don’t believe my opinions on politics are infallible, so I can’t agree with him.”
You are doing precisely what I lamented: labeling Tony Campolo with what is for you a disagreeable label so you can dismiss him.
The fact that you would accuse him of believing his opinions are infallible is evidence that you think the same of your own. You can’t dialogue with him becuase you’ve already written him off.
Shame on you.
Peace,



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Don

posted October 9, 2007 at 1:49 pm


“What was the title of Wallis’ book, Don? Did you read it? He compares those who support the President to those who have taken the mark of the beast.”
Yes, I did. And I don’t recall his doing what you accuse him of. Why don’t you quote that part here?
And what is the subtitle of the book?
D



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N.M. Rod

posted October 9, 2007 at 1:52 pm


If Jesus’ own words aren’t worth any more than any other piece of scripture, then scripture can (and has) been used to justify any and all possible human behavior and misbehavior.
This is the crux of why “conservatives” in the Southern Baptist takeover of 2000 eliminated Jesus from the Statement of Faith.
Many conservative Christian precepts, which are informed by mixing cultural and national myths and interests with those of Christianity, cannot be sustained without minimizing the Savior’s own words and examples as of primary importance in informing our own.
Many today hoping to sustain and justify the direction in which we are going, find it expedient to NOT think relevant “What would Jesus do?”
They want their religion, but they want one which affirms to them God wants them to do what they already want to do.
Additionally, these most conservative of viewpoints tend to in practice denigrate the influence of the Holy Spirit, who is the only interpreter of scripture’s meaning, and who Jesus specifically promised us to lead each of us into understanding and truth. Most conservatives totally ignore the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said, whoever has seen Him, has seen the Father. No man can come to the Father, but through Him. And the way we have a living relationship with God the Father is through the relationship and agency of the Holy Spirit allowed to us by Jesus’ loving sacrifice.
When Jesus is denigrated, the form of Christianity is of no more authority than that of any other religion, whether of Christian origin or influence or outside it. Perhaps since Jesus is no longer of primary importance (instead of Mary, in this heresy the nation becomes co-savior), it should be called something other than Christianity. There are Christless or Christ-minimizing monotheisms, and perhaps this tendency towards a tribal God that favors one or two nations is one more in keeping with the nationalistic messianic mission of some American patriots.



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jesse

posted October 9, 2007 at 2:03 pm


Don,
I’m afraid you missed my point. I labeled Tony part of the “Religious Left” because he’s saying his liberal politics are Jesus’s. This is what makes the Religious Right what they are (saying that Christianity and conservativism are synonymous).
I’m not dismissing him or his politics because they are liberal. I’m just saying he’s showing arrogance for thinking his politics were handed to him from on high. I don’t think my political views are infallible. He does.



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N.M. Rod

posted October 9, 2007 at 2:07 pm


In fact it reveals how inadequate labels like “conservative” or “liberal” are to evaluating this sort of heresy that dehumanises and de-deitizes Jesus to merely another biblical figure who is interesting only for his symbolic position within theological dogmatic interpretations which arose years – sometimes millenia later – after he actually lived the life that changed the world.
The true conservative position as the Christian one is the one that gives him central weight in one’s life as influence and relationship, not just as a one-time personal salvation no-longer-going-to-Hell issue. just as it was with his disciples and the early church. That is unless, you want to go back to an even more conservative, Pharasaic and rabbinical conservative tradition that rejects Him in favor of seeing him at worst as the illegitimate bastard Jesus-bar-Joseph, or at best as a rabbi or inferior prophet.
I have to tell you, I strongly reject as anathema (even if no one cares) a supposed Christianity that makes Jesus just one more voice among many, with no special claim to status for what He spoke – and even the ability to be outvoted by mere human yet inspired voices.
If this is the way “conservative” Christianity is headed, then it’s clear they concede they’ve already lost the argument with Jesus as per their positions, and are now turning for justification elsewhere for their preconceived belief, where it doesn’t have to be corroborated by Him.



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neuro_nurse

posted October 9, 2007 at 2:08 pm


I doubt most Catholics know what “Red Letter Christian” means (Maybe ‘red letter’ Catholic Bibles exist, but I’ve never seen a Catholic Bible in which the words of our Lord were printed in anything other than black), but here are a few things the Catechism has to say about the Gospels:
“The Gospels are the heart of all the Scriptures “because they are our principal source for the life and teaching of the Incarnate Word, our Savior.” 125
“The fourfold Gospel holds a unique place in the Church, as is evident both in the veneration which the liturgy accords it and in the surpassing attraction it has exercised on the saints at all times:
“There is no doctrine which could be better, more precious and more splendid than the text of the Gospel. Behold and retain what our Lord and Master, Christ, has taught by his words and accomplished by his deeds.” 127
Seek peace and pursue it.



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I and I

posted October 9, 2007 at 2:09 pm


The name red-letter Christian” is redundant, but I guess it had to be so. Here’s an idea: how about everyone who considers the rest of the Bible equal to the teachings of Christ simply call themselves “Biblists,” since it seems that is what they hold in the highest reverence. Those who think that Christ himself, who he is and what he did and taught, are the focal point of Christianity could continue to call themselves Christians, and those radical dispensationalists who beleive that Paul’s teachings take priority over those of Christ can call themselves Paulists. Wouldn’t that clear things up a bit?
For some context on Stan Guthrie: He can be counted on to take consistently politically conservative positions on the otherwise balanced CT liveblog. He even critiqued the latest Al Gore book without reading it, assuming it was full of sour grapes about the 2000 election (it wasn’t).
Thanks for a good piece, Tony. Hope folks will listen.



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Screwtape

posted October 9, 2007 at 2:20 pm


This is going just how I wanted – you’re all ripping each other apart, wasting time putting words on a blog day after day, and presenting a juvenile and distasteful picture of the Christian life to all who read these posts. Well done indeed!



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N.M. Rod

posted October 9, 2007 at 2:20 pm


As a former employee with D. James Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Ministries in Florida, and as a graduate of his mentor’s alma mater, one could surmise that Stan Guthrie’s Christian-flavored nationalistic religion might be coincident with that of the late patriot pastor.
Unfortunately, their politics informs their religion, instead of the other way around.



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 9, 2007 at 2:22 pm


I labeled Tony part of the “Religious Left” because he’s saying his liberal politics are Jesus’s. This is what makes the Religious Right what they are (saying that Christianity and conservativism are synonymous).
That’s not really the problem. The “religious right,” enamored as it was with cultural authority BAMN, was in bed with secularists from the very beginning (which is why it never dared to address questions of poverty or injustice), even going so far as to label certain people who had no relationship with God through Christ as fellow believers. You will see no such delusions from Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis or anyone to the “left” of the ideological spectrum.



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N.M. Rod

posted October 9, 2007 at 2:41 pm


It’s an immutable law, it seems, that everyone is better at pointing out the beam in the other person’s eye than recognising the log in his or her own.
We’re pretty accurate, sometimes, at pointing out the foibles and sins of the “left” from the perspective of the “right,” and vice versa.
But I think both have some pretty accurate observations, in general, about the other.
How about letting God inform our positions instead of trying to hijack Him in support of our own predilections?



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wayne

posted October 9, 2007 at 2:42 pm


Jesus told us to teach all the people, (nations)to do the “ALL” the things He commanded. He also often took exception with how some of those things He commanded in the Old Testament had been interpreted. Jesus was often at odds with the OT at least as it had been interpreted and applied. Wouldn’t that fact alone be enough reason to stress or emphasize those pesky red letters?
Being raised in the church I never heard a sermon on Matthew 25. Why is that? Being raised a dispensationalist, (I think from the same denomination as Guthrie), I never heard anyone teach the Sermon on the Mount. If RLC’s can be accused of over emphasis of parts of scripture surely the de-emphasis, and/or out right ignorance of the red letters, should be admitted to.



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Kevin Wayne

posted October 9, 2007 at 3:01 pm


One group of Christians in history has always been “Red Letter” in nature: the Anabaptists.
And I see nothing wrong with this. I suggest to you that most modern Evangelicals have a “Paul’s Letter’s” approach to scripture. Most theology these days spoken from the pulpits seem to focus a lot on the Grace aspects of these letters, and they aren’t even shy about admitting that they use that as a plumbline to interpret the rest of Scripture.
Futhermore, Martin Luther was of the conviction that many of the books in the Protestant cannon were of secondary importance. Read his introduction to James sometime. He literally says James & Paul contradict each other!
While I agree that we should hold to all of Bible as Inspired, I think only Modern Fraidy-Cat Fundamentalism has made us skittish of innovations in the way we look at the Bible as somehow something to regarded with suspicion.
And then there’s the fact that there are Catholics on htis blog as well- who might accuse us of disreagarding even more of scripture!



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 9, 2007 at 3:37 pm


How about letting God inform our positions instead of trying to hijack Him in support of our own predilections?
Virtually impossible, alone. I cannot completely separate my understanding of Scripture from my history and upbringing as a middle-class, well-educated African-American who lives in an inner-ring suburb of a major Northeastern city. That’s why I made it a point, especially in my 20s, to access material that didn’t fit that view, but in fact very little of the accepted conservative, evangelical cultural mindset filters down to folks like me.
It is precisely because of my status as an “outsider,” so to speak that I can see the flaws of those on the inside — and today that viewpoint is more and more accepted.



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kevin s.

posted October 9, 2007 at 3:40 pm


“Jesus was often at odds with the OT at least as it had been interpreted and applied.”
That’s an altogether different matter from saying he was at odds with the OT itself, which he was not.
“Being raised in the church I never heard a sermon on Matthew 25. Why is that? ”
When I was in college, I was paid to sing in a choir at an Episcopalian church. I never hears a sermon on any biblical passage. At all. Some churches just suck.
“Here’s an idea: how about everyone who considers the rest of the Bible equal to the teachings of Christ simply call themselves “Biblists,” since it seems that is what they hold in the highest reverence. ”
You are calling an awful lot of people “Biblists” here. If we don’t look to the Bible, how do we even know what Christ did, said, or meant? I believe that the whole of scripture comes from God, and that it all represents the teachings of Christ. If you believe in the trinity, I don’t see how you can argue otherwise.
“Yes, I did. And I don’t recall his doing what you accuse him of. Why don’t you quote that part here?”
Pages 150-151.
““As we reflect on our response to the American empire and what it stands for, a reflection on the early church and empire is instructive.”
He then goes on to butcher Revelation 13: 3-7 to make it say:
“The whole earth was agog, gaping at the Beast. They worshiped the Dragon who gave the Beast authority, and they worshiped the Beast, exclaiming, “There’s never been anything like the Beast! No one would dare go to war with the Beast!” It held absolute sway over all tribes and peoples, tongues and races.”
He then goes on to discuss “Pax Americana”, drawing the line between the beast of revelation and empire, the option American Christians have. We can either stand in solidarity with the worldwide church, or stand with Pax Americana.
It’s an exegetical catastrophe to be sure, but there really isn’t any other interpretation other than to say those who support this administration stand against Christians in supporting what he compares to the beast of revelation.
“And what is the subtitle of the book?”
I was referring to the subtitle of the book.



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neuro_nurse

posted October 9, 2007 at 3:41 pm


And then there’s the fact that there are Catholics on htis blog as well- who might accuse us of disreagarding even more of scripture!”
Are you refering to the Deuterocanonic books (what Protestants call the Apocrypha)?
My wife and I have many things about which we disagree, but have agreed not to argue about those that “are not a hill to die on.”
They are interesting to read, though.
Incidentally, the Ethiopian canon includes the Deuterocanonic books as well as several other books that aren’t included in the Catholic canon.



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Don

posted October 9, 2007 at 4:22 pm


Kevin, I would have to read that passage in its context to know for sure what Wallis was saying here. But it appears to me that it’s your,i/> interpretation that he is castigating Christians who supported Bush.
And to say there simply isn’t any other interpretation possible is just not true: I’m not convinced that Wallis was saying that at all. He was talking about secular empires in general (symbolized by the beast), not just its current incarnation in the American superpower, the manifestations of which are not limited to the Bush administration or Bush era, or any particular political. All earthly kingdoms oppose Christ to some degree or other and can be seen as “beast.”
And so I’m not so sure his exegesis of Rev. 13 is all that far off the mark, either.
Jesse wrote:
“I labeled Tony part of the ‘Religious Left’ because he’s saying his liberal politics are Jesus’s.”
Where does Tony Campolo say that? Give me a citation. And is that really what he is saying or is it your interpretation, informed by your own biases and presuppositions?
And again, aren’t you doing precisely what I lamented earlier? You don’t agree with Campolo, you don’t want constructive dialogue with him or others who feel the way he does, so you build your own fence around it, call him Religious Left and his positions “liberal policies” so you can easily dismiss him.
Why not instead try to understand where Tony is coming from, why he believes the Gospels compel him to hold the positions he advocates? You could still disagree with him, but you might come to an understanding that would allow you to disagree with him without resorting to unproductive (and un-Christian) labeling and name-calling.
Peace,



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 9, 2007 at 4:32 pm


It’s an exegetical catastrophe to be sure, but there really isn’t any other interpretation other than to say those who support this administration stand against Christians in supporting what he compares to the beast of revelation.
Now you’re really reaching. Wallis was not necessarily naming Bush per se; in practice, he was specifically referring to the neoconservatives who influence the current administration and who consider power and authority their virtual birthright, which does represent the “beast.” FWIW, it could have been Reagan, Nixon or even TR given the times.
was referring to the subtitle of the book.
No, you weren’t — if case you forgot, it’s “Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It.”



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Another nonymous

posted October 9, 2007 at 4:52 pm


I happen to know (because I’m on the mailing list) that the group now called Red Letter Christians was at first tentatively called Progressive Evangelicals. I understand, and sympathize with, the desire of Tony and others to remove the political association, but I also see how and why this change might appear disingenuous.
Personally, I have no problem with being identified as a liberal or a progressive. That’s who I am politically, and I would never pretend otherwise. My faith provides a way to get some perspective on my politics, and perhaps moderate them in ways that are consistent with the Gospel. I truly believe that most of the conservative posters here are doing the same thing, and frankly, if Christianity weren’t big enough to accommodate all of us, I would find that a bit disturbing.



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I and I

posted October 9, 2007 at 5:28 pm


Kevin, my “Biblist” comment still stands. Of course we look to the Bible to point the way to Christ. That is its purpose. When we switch those roles, or when we elevate other aspects of the Bible over Christ for their own sake, that is when I would use the term Biblist. When we put more stock into certain teachings of Paul (i.e. regarding women speaking in church) than into certain teachings of Christ (i.e. regarding wealth and serving two masters), we run the risk of being Biblist.



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I and I

posted October 9, 2007 at 5:34 pm


Clarification: above message was in reference to a Kevin S. post not a Kevin Wayne post. Kevin Wayne, I appreciate your comment about Luther and would like to look into that further.



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Italian88

posted October 9, 2007 at 5:50 pm


I’m pretty shocked at the way some on this blog appear to be confused concerning the proper way to approach Scripture. Proper exegesis, as far as I was taught in Bible college, demands that we view the entirety of Scripture as infallible and inspired. As such, one does not have to pit Jesus against Paul, Jesus against Moses, etc. Instead, we understand that they will be in agreement because each has spoken the will of the Father. Our job as exegetes is then to seek to understand HOW they agree, NOT whether or not they do.
The whole idea of RLCs (at least as I understand their position) is a denial of the inspiration of Scripture.
Anyone who thinks they have the right to dispense with Paul because they think Jesus disagrees with him just doesn’t understand the doctrine of inspiration.
Peace to all!



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jesse

posted October 9, 2007 at 5:52 pm


Don,
Where does Tony Campolo say that? Give me a citation. And is that really what he is saying or is it your interpretation, informed by your own biases and presuppositions?
–He says other RLCs who share his political views are staying true to Jesus’s teachings. Is there any other way to interpret this? The RLC label is explicitly political (read their manifesto elsewhere on this site). It’s not just “anyone who appreciates Jesus’s words above all others.” If you are for limited government or a strong defense, you cannot be a RLC and, therefore, you are not truly adhering to Jesus’s teachings.
I’m not dismissing Campolo or his politics. I just have a problem when he says that his politics come from Jesus and mine do not.



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Italian88

posted October 9, 2007 at 5:53 pm


One more thing. This is one of the most famous verses for understanding the doctrine of inspiration:
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).
“All” means ALL.
Peace!



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 9, 2007 at 6:07 pm


If you are for limited government or a strong defense, you cannot be a RLC and, therefore, you are not truly adhering to Jesus’s teachings.
No, that’s not exactly what RLCs believe. However, Jesus did say, “If you live by the sword you will die by the sword,” and too many conservative Christians actually live by the sword (but won’t admit it) because they really believe they can intimidate nations into compliance — the Middle East is a prime example of such arrogance. And too often the excuse of “limited government” has been used as an excuse to justify unjust policies (such as racial segregation in the South).



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neuro_nurse

posted October 9, 2007 at 6:08 pm


“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).
That not in red letters!
(humor – I refuse to use emoticons)



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Payshun

posted October 9, 2007 at 6:11 pm


Progressive Christians tend to prioritize the Prophets and the Gospels, w/ Hebrews, and Revelation to back that up.
More conservatives tend to play up the letters particularly Paul’s letters (at least parts of it.)
NM Rod is right conservatives tend to downplay or ignore the role of the Holy Spirit completely.
ONe more thing Profitable doesn’t mean innerant. Talking about the bible can get complicated considering it is a book w/ stories that date back over 5,000 years. Conservatives tend to worship the bible over the Father even though the Word is one w/ Him.
p



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 9, 2007 at 6:12 pm


Using Christ words as a hammer is no different then the acusations of said Christians who say only conservatives do this . How hyopocritical , I am a Christian because I pay attention to the words of Christ more then you .
Sheesh , whats this blathering about conservatives Rick , it gets old . Your own church has more then its share of hypocracies and denials , plus a genaration has been lost and all you do is blame .
We all Need the Lord , we all seek His Love and Guidance . Pray for those who are not where you are Rick ,
But get off your low horse . It comes off hateful and an embarrassment to what you say you Are .



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Another nonymous

posted October 9, 2007 at 6:13 pm


Italian88 –
Far be it from me to complicate the issue unnecessarily, but there are two problems with that. When 2 Timothy was written, the canon of Scripture had not yet been formed. Thus, to say that this letter refers to the Bible as we know it today is simply an unwarranted assumption. Second, it says that all Scripture is profitable, not that it is all equally important. You can believe the latter if you want, but Scripture makes no such claims about itself.
Sorry to nitpick, but while I try to be tolerant of other political views, the suggestion that I don’t understand the doctrine of inspiration is one I do find offensive.



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 9, 2007 at 6:41 pm


Conservatives tend to worship the bible over the Father even though the Word is one w/ Him.
p
I find humans in general who use the bible as a hammer instead of a means to get to Know the Lord better setting themselves up for a rude awakening .



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wayne

posted October 9, 2007 at 6:58 pm


Another nonymous
I guess I could just say “ditto”.
Italian 88
I was trying to point out that many of those who are opposed to Red “letterers” are in fact at least tacitly guilty of what they accuse them of doing. They just do it in the opposite direction. The church I grew up in did not preach on those areas of scripture because they were thought to be irrelevant. In many ways they were not a bad bunch of believers, (would that be BBB’s?) they did though have some tendencies toward seeing our culture as biblical and the only right way, Though they would have said Jesus was the way the truth and the life they found a doctrine easier to follow and ironically quite easy to ignore His words. If you are going to follow Jesus it only makes sense to deeply delve into what He said and then do accordingly.
All definitely means all and Jesus is “‘ALL’ the fullness of God”, (just to show you that I can quote from the non red verses too). He is/was the greatest expression of God’s being anyone has ever seen or will ever see. Therefore to put emphasis on His words, red, yellow or green, would certainly be appropriate and absolutely defensible. It is definitely not bad exegesis.



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kevin s.

posted October 9, 2007 at 7:06 pm


“He was talking about secular empires in general (symbolized by the beast), not just its current incarnation in the American superpower,”
Wallis is using “Pax Americana” was referring to secular empires in general? Revelation uses the term “Beast”, Wallis labels America as the beast.
“he was specifically referring to the neoconservatives”
So neocons are taking the mark of the beast. That’s not any better if Don is looking to make the point that Wallis is moving beyond labels.
” FWIW, it could have been Reagan, Nixon or even TR given the times.”
Right, any Republican will do. I think Reagan was a fine president, and I would like to see more like him. Therefore I have taken the mark of the beast. That is why it’s completely bats.
“was referring to the subtitle of the book.
No, you weren’t — if case you forgot, it’s “Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It.””
That’s the subtitle to which I was referring, the one that mentions right and left. “God’s Politics” isn’t a label.
“When we switch those roles, or when we elevate other aspects of the Bible over Christ for their own sake, that is when I would use the term Biblist.”
Your point may stand, but you have amended your definition of “Biblist”. Before, the term referred to those who “consider the rest of the Bible equal to the teachings of Christ.”
“Personally, I have no problem with being identified as a liberal or a progressive. ”
Gasp! You’ve accepted your label? You’ve taken the mark of the generic beast to which the book of Revelation apparently refers. Shame on you, probably, depending.
” Second, it says that all Scripture is profitable, not that it is all equally important. You can believe the latter if you want, but Scripture makes no such claims about itself.”
It says that is divinely inspired by God. Is God’s inspiration more true at some times than in others?



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 9, 2007 at 7:29 pm


It says that is divinely inspired by God. Is God’s inspiration more true at some times than in others?
Posted by: kevin s.
From political points view it appears yes . Helping you to understand the Bible no .



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 9, 2007 at 7:34 pm


Sheesh, whats this blathering about conservatives Rick, it gets old. Your own church has more then its share of hypocracies and denials, plus a genaration has been lost and all you do is blame.
My own church, which is quite conservative in most ways, has faced up to its past, which is why we’re seeing a mini-revival. The political right just won’t do that, which is why it’s in so much trouble as I write.
So neocons are taking the mark of the beast. That’s not any better if Don is looking to make the point that Wallis is moving beyond labels.
Unfortunately, you on the right won’t do the same. The point is that the folks I mentioned believed that “might makes right,” which comes from pure arrogance. It works and communicates with NOBODY, and we’ve seen the ultimate with the present President Bush. And that’s the reason the Democrats have at least a little momentum today.
I think Reagan was a fine president, and I would like to see more like him. Therefore I have taken the mark of the beast. That is why it’s completely bats.
Where I come from, Reagan was absolutely despised, not the least of which was because of his disdain — some might say hostility — to civil rights. When a Ku Klux Klansman gave an endorsement in 1980, that told most blacks what they needed to know.



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Trent

posted October 9, 2007 at 7:40 pm


To be divinely inspired is not the same as to be infallible and perfect.
To be good for teaching and instruction and correction is not the same as being infallible and perfect.
Some Christians hold that the Bible is entirely infallible and perfect, that creation did occur in six days, that Job was a real person. These people would typically be described as fundamentalists.
Some Christians hold, that while inspired, that the Bible is not perfect or infallible. The creation story speaks to God’s hand at work, not to a literal six day creation. These people would be typically described as liberal.
Tony Campolo would identify himself (as would I) in the second group. Many here would identify themselves in the first (but they might not like the label fundamentalist – I’m open to alternatives).
Perhaps the division between the two groups has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with scriptural interpretation. RLCs make perfect sense from a liberal approach to scripture but no sense from a fundamentalist position (which would see all parts of the bible as equally significant).



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wayne

posted October 9, 2007 at 7:41 pm


Kevin
What does “inspired” to you or just plain old everybody?
Mick regardless of what psuedo screwtape says, this has been a pretty fair discussion. That last shot was not worthy of you. Care to try again?



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Susannah

posted October 9, 2007 at 9:51 pm


“What is more, we believe that you really cannot rightly interpret the rest of the Bible without first understanding who Jesus is, what he did, and what he said.”
Two thirds of that understanding are cut by reading the Red Letters.
I like the principal of the RLC seeking to live by and understand Jesus better – but I have to put myself into the WBC (Whole Bible Christian) grouping and say that the entire Bible speaks of the triune God’s relationship with man and that is my frame of reference for understanding.
I must admit that the deepest cry of my heart took place recently reading Nahum when I realised that this was the same God who gave us such mercy. No mention of Jesus at all in that book. It moved me so much I barely spoke for days because my heart was choked as I had sensed such a small part of God’s pain over our sin and injustice.
I had never read from Nahum before, its never heard it quoted by liberal or conservative teachers and pastors that I have been under – but I’ve ‘found’ the -entire- Bible now and I will not give it up.



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Don

posted October 9, 2007 at 10:03 pm


“He says other RLCs who share his political views are staying true to Jesus’s teachings. Is there any other way to interpret this?”
Sorry, Jesse, I don’t see where Campolo says or even implies this, at least here. Show me. With a quote.
“If you are for limited government or a strong defense, you cannot be a RLC and, therefore, you are not truly adhering to Jesus’s teachings.”
Does Campolo say this too? Where? Give me a quote.
Sorry, Jesse, you only continue to demonstrate your own prejudices, and my original complaint about what you wrote stands. Stop labeling people you disagree with as “liberals” and “religious Left” and try to understand them and why they are motivated to believe as they do. Then if you still disagree, you can disagree honestly. Right now you aren’t.
Peace,



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Anonymous

posted October 9, 2007 at 10:16 pm


Tony Campolo wrote:
After all, Stan, didn’t Jesus himself make this same point in the Sermon on the Mount, when he said his teachings about marriage and divorce were to replace what Moses taught?
I’m not so sure that’s a fair description of what Jesus said at the Sermon on the Mount. My understanding was that he supplemented and built on the Mosaic Law, and cleared away a lot of accumulated traditions that obscured the original purposes, but he didn’t replace the law.
Or as Jesus himself put it:
For verily I say unto you, ’til heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, ’til all be fulfilled
Matt 5:18 — you can look it up, it’s in the Red Letters too!
Wolverine



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Floyd

posted October 9, 2007 at 10:31 pm


1. It seems when conservatives try to justify something that is counter to Christianity, they pull out an OT reference or a reference in one of the Pauline epistles. Ironically, the Pharisees justified their transgressions by their interpretations of the OT. I compare the right-wing conservatives who claim to be Christian to the Pharisees. In fact, when Christ goes through a laundry list of the Pharisees’ sins, it is eerily similar to the way these conservative “Christians” act today.
2. When my church was affiliated with the SBC, rarely were any verses from the Gospel used. OT, Pauline epistle, and Revelation verses probably accounted for 98% of any Bible references. Now that we are non-denominational, not only do more Gospel verses gte used, but my pastor even had a sermon series on “The Red Letters”, highlighting the Beatitudes (which one rarely hears in a conservative church).
3. The socialist-leaning Progressives of the late 1800s and early 1900s, led by William Jennings Bryan, came from the evangelical churches and were heavily anti-corporate dominance.
4. Acts 2:44-45. Read it yourself. Before you start denigrating Christ-following Christians as socialist and implying that one cannot be Christian and socialist, read these verses. Read them to a conservative without saying they are from the Bible and that person will attribute them to a famous atheist (sharing a last name with a group of comedy brothers)from the 1800s close to 100% of the time. They will be also correct, but he actually was the third source – The Book of Acts is the original.
5. Cut-throat capitalism, at the heart of ReaganBushonomics is espoused by the Ayn Rand Foundation, which also espouses atheism. Ayn Rand was an atheist. Members of the foundation include Milton Friedman (Nixon’s economic advisor and the architect of Reaganomic trickle-down policies), Alan Greenspan (Mr. Tax Cut and the Bush dynasty’s economic guru, not to mention a very close friend of Ayn Rand), and Ben Bernancke (hello, our current Fed chairman and a publicly avowed atheist). Also, Adam Smith, the granddaddy of cutthroat capitalism and the Industrial Revolution, whom the Religious Right’s poster girl, Ann Coulter, frequently quotes and idolizes, was himself an atheist.
So, I think that before someone starts calling RLCs socialists and implies that, as such, their faith is lacking, should read Acts, and about Ayn Rand, Adam Smith, William Jennings Bryan, Francis and Edward Bellamy, and the past several Fed chairmen.
I would also like to say that many atheists and anti-Christians explain their positions by citing specific things (like the Holocaust, Jim Crow, etc.) that they associate with Christianity, but that, in reality, are abuses of Christianity by htose who would justify their actions with the OT. A just war is indeed a necessary one. But many unjust wars, like Iraq and the Phillipines in the early 1900s(Afghanistan is justified, but do not get me started at this time on how Iraq is not related), have been started by reference to the Bible – but never the words of Christ.



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Wolverine

posted October 9, 2007 at 10:32 pm


Politics is ultimately a secular business. I think there are general principles that help us to understand governing better, but in the end if your ideology is even halfway plausible you can always find proof texts.
“God cares about the poor, I care about the poor, therefore God supports my social welfare program.”
Or (to be fair) “God wants men to live in freedom, I want men to live in freedom, therefore God supports my war to liberate country X”
It’s such an easy game to play that people continue to play it even when it accomplishes so little in practical terms.
Wolverine



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 9, 2007 at 10:45 pm


Why do we attack those because we disagree with them then, why would you not want to Love that person to Christ, especially when you are willing to stand up to policies that you say are hurting people. Why hurt those who are already hurting?
Perhaps you should be asking yourself this question. Rather than resenting my tart critiques of modern conservatism, did it ever occur to you that I might be right? Love, remember, sometimes means confrontation and evil most be exposed, especially when under the guise of religion lest it lose its authority. I was once asked on another thread if I would tone it down, and I simply refused — not because I love conflict (I’m at heart a reconciler) but because the Christian faith is at stake. I’ve never been married, but I know enough about it to know that you do not simply try to heal a marriage by papering over any differences.



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 9, 2007 at 10:51 pm


I’m not so sure that’s a fair description of what Jesus said at the Sermon on the Mount. My understanding was that he supplemented and built on the Mosaic Law, and cleared away a lot of accumulated traditions that obscured the original purposes, but he didn’t replace the law.
What happened was that the Pharisees had actually misused the law by reinterpreting it to allow themselves some loopholes. When it came to marriage, for example, some of them had actually had serial divorces, which of course doesn’t fly with the spirit of the laws about marriage. The thinking was that “lust” was OK but adultery wasn’t; Jesus was saying that it missed the point.



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wayne

posted October 9, 2007 at 11:01 pm


Susanna
Calling yourself an RLC doesn’t mean you do not read Nahum. In fact the minor profits are considered a watershed of truth by all the RLC’s I know as they deal so much with the issues of justice and social concerns.
I do not call myself an RLC but if I did I would mean that I am not ignoring the statments of Jesus. That I am taking them seriously, emphasizing them, even reading scripture through them. I spend much of my time reading the Old Testament. I also find it very challenging and encouraging.
I have only met Mr Campolo once but I am sure he also spends much of his time in the Word of God with our Old Testament brother’s and sister’s words and stories.
At some point in my Christian life I came to see that I was really not much different than any modern Jewish Orthodox male, excepting my belief in Jesus as Messiah. The problem was my belief led me to just being concerned with my own personal holiness and not caring much for others. If I couldn’t preach to them and have them change fairly quickly and then move on to become “mature” I did not have much time for them.
The irony is all my concern for holiness wasn’t actually making me any holier, just more frustrated. As I dealt with Jesus words and His life style of living in and among those who weren’t so holy, weren’t wanted, weren’t respected, weren’t included, I began to change. I began to be able to understand someone like Mother Theresa saying that she loved the dying and the poor because Jesus was in them. She met Jesus in their eyes, in their painful broken bodies and even in their neglected deaths. I realized that I as I loved practically I found much of my struggles seemed to pale if not go away. I didn’t need to use the good works as a carrot or a lure to preach the Gospel. Why would I ever not preach the Gospel? But I could do a good thing just for the goodness of it. I did not need to abandon holiness and obedience in frustration I needed to expand it into practical physical loving acts and ideas. As I said I do not call myself an RLC but if I did that is what I would mean by it.



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Another nonymous

posted October 9, 2007 at 11:21 pm


Posted by: kevin s. | October 9, 2007 7:06 PM
“It says that is divinely inspired by God. Is God’s inspiration more true at some times than in others.”
No, just more useful. The Levitical purity code, for example, isn’t particularly useful for somebody living in contemporary America (unless you’re writing a book on living Biblically to make money). The Song of Solomon isn’t particularly useful for a parent trying to teach a child about sexual restraint.
Let’s make an analogy. You said recently that Andrea Bocelli isn’t a top-quality singer: a statement with which I agree. Suppose you listened to Bocelli, Domingo and Pavarotti sing an aria. It might be an inspired composition, if not quite in the Biblical sense. However, Domingo might sing it better than Pavarotti, who in turn might sing it better than Bocelli. All three would sing it differently. That doesn’t in the least affect the quality of the aria, which is just as inspired regardless of who is singing it. Nevertheless, Domingo has realized that inspiration better than Bocelli has, and he has done so by using a superior voice and superior musical training and judgment.
In other words, the quality of his performance depends on an outside standard of reference. Unless you have a concept of what constitutes a good performance, you can neither give nor recognize one, no matter how good the music is you’re singing.
“You’ve taken the mark of the generic beast to which the book of Revelation apparently refers. Shame on you, probably, depending.”
Say what?



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jesse

posted October 10, 2007 at 12:02 am


Don,
I suggest you read some of the articles elsewhere on this site about what RLC is. You can pretend that it’s not associated with left-leaning politics or pacifism, but it is… I suggest you read Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis’s articles on the topic. All of the problems Campolo lists are solved (according to him) through more government intervention and social welfare programs. His article on the topic is also explicitly pacifist (“When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, he probably means we shouldn’t kill them.”) I won’t give the link, because Sojo has been blocking posts with links.
It’s pretty disingenuous to claim that no reasonable disagreements exist with these issues, and frankly it seems to be an old, tired discussion on this site. I’m not really interested in debating whether there is such a thing as “liberal” or “conservative” views of an issue or whether all “liberal” positions are God’s positions. It seems to me self-evident that godly people can come to different opinions about these things.



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christian

posted October 10, 2007 at 12:07 am


“When I was in college, I was paid to sing in a choir at an Episcopalian church. I never hears a sermon on any biblical passage. At all. Some churches just suck. ”
Great point kevin. If only we could rid the world of Episcopalians, we could all lead a much happier and moral life.
It’s sad that you were so careless with your words about the Episcopalian Church. I guess “they” are an easy target.



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Mark P (the Yank)

posted October 10, 2007 at 12:08 am


Tony, you say “we believe that you really cannot rightly interpret the rest of the Bible without first understanding who Jesus is, what he did, and what he said.”
I would disagree, in a *sense*. There’s a reason that the events and Scripture of the Old Testament were laid down PRIOR to the coming of Christ. While I will completely agree that Christ is the heart and core of the Gospel, I actually think the reverse of what you say is true: You CANNOT gain a full understanding of the Person or Mission of Jesus Christ without an understanding of the Old Testament, its teachings, and its purpose.
I tend to find the title “Red Letter Christian” a bit condescending and divisive. You “label” yourself as a manner of differentiation. The statement “I am Lutheran/Catholic/Methodist/Baptist/Orthodox” implies a distinction that you ARE something that others are NOT. I am a ____ because I adhere to specific doctrines/teachings/practices/liturgy that others do not.
The term “Red Letter Christian” implies that others do not, in fact, follow Jesus’ teachings. It’s a bit too “we’re the true Jesus followers and you are not” for me.



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canucklehead

posted October 10, 2007 at 12:44 am


The suggestion that RLCs alone are the only group w/i Christendom to pick and choose which parts of Scripture they prefer is ignorant.
Go to a Baptist church – do you see hands in the air/hear shouting/see dancing in worship? Guess them psalms aren’t in Baptist Bibles.
Go to any suburban evangelical church and try suggesting that the “sharing” typical of the church in Acts should be normative and prescriptive.
When was the last time any of your pastors spoke from Leviticus or treated Song of Solomon non-allegorically?
Come on, folks, we all do it and if you’re honest (once thought a Christian virtue), so do you! It’s called the exegetical dance, the death of a thousand qualifications, selective reading, … take your pick.
by the way, who is Stan Guthrie?



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Payshun

posted October 10, 2007 at 12:53 am


Canucklhead,
I agree w/ you completely. I am a contemplative. Believe me I rarely read or pay attention to James. I tend to priortize the prophets particularly my beloved master Ezekiel but they pale in comparison to the beauty of the Gospels. Even then I find myself prioritizing which ones I like better beginning w/ the mysticism and beauty of John, the gentile historian Luke, the Jewish Mathew and the leaving Mark alone. We all do it based off which part of the body of Christ we are. As a part of God’s heart I tend to read and study and live the parts of the bible that are exclusively his heart. Anything I tend to minimize.
p



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Payshun

posted October 10, 2007 at 1:00 am


One more thing before I go to bed. We are only as divided as we let ourselves be. Jesse and others Campolo is not dividing himself from you. He is stating an opinion about his beliefs. You all have a choice about that. Will you still see union w/ your fellow believers when they disagree w/ you or not.
I don’t see myself divided from the conservatives even though I find the evangelical religion to be dead (kind of like a cancer that keeps matastizing) I am still united to you all.
p



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 10, 2007 at 1:18 am


don’t see myself divided from the conservatives even though I find the evangelical religion to be dead (kind of like a cancer that keeps matastizing) I am still united to you all.
p
God Bless you P , I have learned to Love you , first because My Lord Commanded it , but Iit has become easier and have found you to have a large heart and open to others . I pray that you will come to Christ one day , and God Bless you . You are a gentle and Kind spirit . And one heck of a debater .



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 10, 2007 at 1:26 am


Even then I find myself prioritizing which ones I like better beginning w/ the mysticism and beauty of John, the gentile historian Luke, the Jewish Mathew and the leaving Mark alone.
Hey P , I wondered about this myself of . My wife loves John . I liked Matthew even before I was a Christian . I still like Matthew , I guess it is because it is is structured , in order and I can relax and soak in the information when things are so .
I once heard an interesting speaker that taught about Learning styles , even in public schools . She promoted a theory the Gospel we favor has to do with our learning style . It was quite an interesting lecture . The speaker went into the four distinct learning styles we have , all people regardless of Faith .
And the Gospels are written by a person with each one of those learning styles .
God is tricky is He not ! ;o)



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kevin s.

posted October 10, 2007 at 1:45 am


“Campolo is not dividing himself from you. ”
Nor I from him. As a Christian, I would like him to present my viewpoint more honestly, to the extent he disagrees with it. This is not an unreasonable request.
“Unfortunately, you on the right won’t do the same”
The same as what? Use labels? I will use labels. I have no problem with them, in and of themselves.
“Where I come from, Reagan was absolutely despised,”
Fine. Have I taken the mark of the beast, is Wallis bananas, or did you not mean what you said?
“To be divinely inspired is not the same as to be infallible and perfect.”
On what basis? Is God fallible someimtes?
“Some Christians hold that the Bible is entirely infallible and perfect, that creation did occur in six days, that Job was a real person.”
Does Campolo believe that Job was not a real person? Do you? I do. If you doubt that Job was a real person, then please explain how you believe Jesus to be who he said he was.
“What does “inspired” to you or just plain old everybody?”
This is not English. Can you restate your question?
“It seems when conservatives try to justify something that is counter to Christianity, they pull out an OT reference or a reference in one of the Pauline epistles.”
First, give me an example of this. Second, explain why it is wrong.
“When my church was affiliated with the SBC, rarely were any verses from the Gospel used.”
I’m sorry this was the case.
” “The Red Letters”, highlighting the Beatitudes (which one rarely hears in a conservative church).”
I have no idea what constitutes a conservative church in your eyes, but I have heard from these passages plenty.
“Cut-throat capitalism, at the heart of ReaganBushonomics is espoused by the Ayn Rand Foundation, which also espouses atheism.”
GBA fallacy. Next.



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Robert Alu

posted October 10, 2007 at 2:46 am


“Jesus is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. That’s why we created a new name for our Christian political movement.” Tony Campolo
Hi,
So long after it was first used at Antioch, the term ‘Christian’ has lost its meaning. Today it is something that we choose to label ourselves. Some think it is something they are brought up as.
But,
What is a Christian? A follower of Jesus Christ? Really? What does it mean to follow Christ? It may seem like a no-brainer to some to suggest that if we are to be followers of Jesus Christ then his words should take pre-eminence, yet many Christians here disagree.
We disagree on so many other things, of course, and that is why we have countless denominations.
Who was Jesus? Was/Is he on the left or the right of politics? Does it matter? What did/does he stand for? How can we find out?
Are Christians people who commit adultery, oppose abortion, support capital punishment, send others’ children to wage war in foreign lands, support the military-industrial complex, speak in tongues, read God’s Politics, plant churches, go on missions, pray for enemies like Osama Bin Laden, feed the hungry, damn the poor, oppose war, support the Republican Party, support the Democratic Party, care about the environment? Is a Christian someone who wears a suit on Sunday morning?
If a stranger called me a Christian I wouldn’t know if it was meant as an insult or a compliment!
You see … Christ may be all things to all men, but we are so divided, so ‘mixed up’ – and so the need for labels and more labels. Clarification is very much in order.
Daily here I read of distinctives such as Conservative, Liberal, Left, Right etc … Perhaps Christ is glorified in all the disagreeing. Perhaps he is not.
However, what Tony Campolo and the RLCs have done is to aspire to make CHRIST’s words the centre of their politics. Yes, politics. I think it’s a worthy ideal.
Oh, and I look forward to the CT article by Stan Guthrie.
God bless you!
– Alu
Dar es Salaam



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Eric

posted October 10, 2007 at 9:42 am


I’ll try to state it again…why do we put labels on ourselves to seperate ourselves from other Christians? Why can’t we all just be Christians, one body, in Christ?? What is the point of attaching labels like “red-letter”? It just smacks of self-rightousness. “I’m not like those other Christians who don’t value x,y, and z and much as I do.”
If you have a problem with certain Christians not caring about the environment/the poor/social justice/etc enough then try to change their ways by prayer and discussing this with them, but don’t set yourself apart from them as if they are some form of lesser Christian.



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Italian88

posted October 10, 2007 at 9:53 am


For those who would consider the words of Jesus more important than, say, the words of Paul, then heed the words of Jesus Himself: “The one who listens to you [i.e., His apostles] listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me” (Luke 10:16).
To reject Paul and claim to embrace Christ is delusion at best and rebellion at worst.
Yes, Christ is the Head of the church, and He is the chief cornerstone, but the church is also built upon the “apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20). For RLCs to regard Paul’s writings as somehow less binding on us – and likewise for conservatives to regard the OT prophets as somehow less binding – is a serious mistake.
We honor Christ most by honoring those He has sent to the church as a gift – including the apostles (Eph. 4:8-12).
Peace.



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Another nonymous

posted October 10, 2007 at 9:55 am


Posted by: kevin s. | October 10, 2007 1:45 AM
“If you doubt that Job was a real person, then please explain how you believe Jesus to be who he said he was.”
Was the Good Samaritan a real person? No, he was a character in a story, told to make a point about the nature of God. Ditto Job. Why is this even problematic?
As for the “please explain” part: I have never heard a Christian claim to have a personal relationship with Job.



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italian88

posted October 10, 2007 at 10:14 am


By the way, you guys ALL ROCK! Even though I sometimes get tired of the periodic sarcasm and fleshly attitudes (certainly not by ME! : ) ), it is wonderful to see so much passion for the truth of Christ.
Iron sharpens iron! We are all constantly having our beliefs and values challenged — interrogated is more like it — by one another. I think this is a good thing.
One day all those who love Christ shall be together, and I will be privileged to meet you.
Until then, live white hot for Christ!
Bless you all.



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Ashpenaz

posted October 10, 2007 at 10:18 am


Jesus said this about the Sermon on the Mount: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matt. 7:24,25. That’s why I start here before going to any other part of the Bible. Jesus asked me to.



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Anonymous

posted October 10, 2007 at 11:09 am


“Politics is ultimately a secular business.”
Wolverine I am not so sure there is anything that is a “secular business” I think we are supposed to live as if everything is “non-secular” or as unto the Lord.
I actually think you agree with me on that and have just over simplified. Could you restate or explain?
Kevin I certain wrote something that is nonsensical.
I would still like to hear your views on the subject.
Italian88 I don’t think RLC’s rejects any of the Old or New Testament, at least I have never met one who did. My history is one in which Believers did to the words of Jesus what you seem to claim RLC’s do to the rest of the Word. I think this is one of the main points of brother’s like Tony C. Let’s get back to following Jesus in total, following his words and his deeds, his attitudes, likes and dislikes, taking up His cross. If we believe Him we should follow Him.
When a believer disagrees with me we can argue. That’s okay.
Ashphenaz. I never saw that. Jesus says his words are foundational, like a rock we are to build upon. The rest are like the walls and roof, just as necessary, but if not built on the words of Jesus, likely to fall short of their intention and purpose. Thanks



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 10, 2007 at 11:45 am


If you have a problem with certain Christians not caring about the environment/the poor/social justice/etc. enough then try to change their ways by prayer and discussing this with them, but don’t set yourself apart from them as if they are some form of lesser Christian.
We’ve always tried to do that, but the conservatives labelled us as “less than.” For example, Ron Sider’s book “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger” came out in 1977 and has gone through several editions, but a sarcastic response, “Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators,” has done the same thing and Sider still takes a lot of crap from so-called conservative Christians. You can’t reason with people like that who are more interested in being right than reconciled. Therefore, they are the ones who need to change for true dialogue to occur.



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Kevin Wayne

posted October 10, 2007 at 12:09 pm


“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).

“All” means ALL.

Food for thought: In context this would not be referring to the New Testament, right? After all they only had the OT when this was written.
Of course, there is one other place where something other than the Old Testament (or Christ) is referred to as “the Word of God” -can you think of it?



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canucklehead

posted October 10, 2007 at 12:17 pm


John Hagee?



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Kevin Wayne

posted October 10, 2007 at 12:17 pm


We’ve always tried to do that, but the conservatives labelled us as “less than.” For example, Ron Sider’s book “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger” came out in 1977 and has gone through several editions, but a sarcastic response, “Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators,” has done the same thing and Sider still takes a lot of crap from so-called conservative Christians. You can’t reason with people like that who are more interested in being right than reconciled. Therefore, they are the ones who need to change for true dialogue to occur.

Posted by: Rick Nowlin | October 10, 2007 11:45 AM

Thanks for that, Rick. Ron Sider is who I read that convinced me of the peace position. And yes, he was immidiately demonized in a way that makes most of what Campolo, etc are now saying by comparison.



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kevin s.

posted October 10, 2007 at 12:20 pm


“That’s why I start here before going to any other part of the Bible. Jesus asked me to.”
But Proverbs, also the word of God, says the same thing. I don’t think the two come in conflict, so we are to adhere to both.
“Was the Good Samaritan a real person? No, he was a character in a story, told to make a point about the nature of God. Ditto Job. Why is this even problematic?”
Because the Bible says that Jesus told allegories, but Jesus referes to characters of the old testament as real. Jesus doesn’t “tell the story of Moses”, for example.
I do think that this strikes at the core of why the concept of “Red Letter Christians” is problematic. If we prioritize the literal words of Christ , then we render the rest as a sort of fiction. Worse, if we assume that God simply inspired the Bible as a collection of instructive stories, then we can certainly call into question the divinity of Christ.
The quest for the historical Jesus was rooted in this very question, thought the theologians involved, for the most part, had already answered this question for themselves.



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Another nonymous

posted October 10, 2007 at 12:32 pm


Posted by: kevin s. | October 10, 2007 12:20 PM
“Because the Bible says that Jesus told allegories, but Jesus referes to characters of the old testament as real. Jesus doesn’t “tell the story of Moses”, for example.”
It’s a matter of distinguishing between literary genres. Moses is not presented as being a fictional character; Job is, as the highly literary nature of the discourses makes clear.
“If we prioritize the literal words of Christ , then we render the rest as a sort of fiction.”
I don’t follow this at all.
“The quest for the historical Jesus was rooted in this very question, thought the theologians involved, for the most part, had already answered this question for themselves.”
Perhaps so, but I certainly wouldn’t put Tony Campolo in this camp, if that’s what you’re implying.



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Ashpenaz

posted October 10, 2007 at 1:20 pm


The Bible is an anthology, not a single book. If I wanted to put together a book “inspired” by the Civil War, I’d include newspaper accounts, a biography of Lincoln, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Huckleberry Finn, the book of Exodus, some spirituals, the Narrative of Frederick Douglass, Gone With The Wind, Across Five Aprils, The Gettysburg Addresss,etc.
Some of this is fiction, some of it poetry, some of it fact. You would need it all in order to understand what the Civil War is all about. The Bible is just such an anthology–it is a collection of different types of writing reflecting a nation’s relationship with God. They were inspired by God to write about their experience the same way the writers above were inspired to write about the Civil War. “Inspired” means they were so emotionally moved by these events, they worked with different genres and different perspectives with varying degrees of accuracy to create an account of a difficult, complicated time. Some of them were eyewitnesses, some wrote about the events years later. The fact that Huckleberry Finn is fiction doesn’t make it less inspired–and the same is true of Job.
I believe that all Scripture is inspired by God, but that inspiration leads to a wealth of creativity which can use many forms to get it’s truth across.



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kevin s.

posted October 10, 2007 at 1:56 pm


You are mixing definitions of inspiration here. Huckleberry Finn is absolutely less inspired than the word of God, party because it is a fiction. In fact, you mae my point for me. If the bible is simply a collection of creative meditiations on a relationship with God, there is no reason to take it any more seriously than, say, Huckleberry Finn. The latter also has plenty to tell us about life, does it not?
“It’s a matter of distinguishing between literary genres. Moses is not presented as being a fictional character; Job is, as the highly literary nature of the discourses makes clear.”
There is no necessary correlation between the nature of discourse and the actuality of the events. You impute this based on our present understanding of fiction and narrative, but there is no compelling reason to believe that Job was not a real person who experienced what the Bible says he did.
“I don’t follow this at all.”
I think you do, but you don’t find it problematic or controversial. When we prioritize Christ, we do so because his words have a special authority that the other words of the Bible do not have. The only reason to assign special authority to the words of Christ is because you believe the rest is, in some way, untrue… Or, at minimum, less true. It becomes fiction.
“Perhaps so, but I certainly wouldn’t put Tony Campolo in this camp, if that’s what you’re implying.”
No, but it is instructive to understand where his assumptions lead us.



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dynamo

posted October 10, 2007 at 2:16 pm


kevin s. said:
“In fact, you mae my point for me”
This is not English. Can you restate your sentence?



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kevin s.

posted October 10, 2007 at 2:42 pm


“This is not English. Can you restate your sentence?”
Sure it is. It just has a rather obvious typo.



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wayne

posted October 10, 2007 at 2:46 pm


“I think you do, but you don’t find it problematic or controversial. When we prioritize Christ, we do so because his words have a special authority that the other words of the Bible do not have. The only reason to assign special authority to the words of Christ is because you believe the rest is, in some way, untrue… Or, at minimum, less true. It becomes fiction.” Kevin s.
This is hard for me to get my head around Kevin. If we can read the Old Testament through the New or even read the New through the Old, how is reading the whole of scripture through the words of Jesus any different?
I have to say that for a believer to have a problem with giving Jesus the final say in a matter is more than a little strange to me. Wouldn’t Moses say He followed Jesus? Wouldn’t Paul say the same? If there is a problem between Moses and Jesus say, over eating unclean food, who would you agree with? Peter seemed to think Jesus had the last word on that subject and James, along with the counsel at Jerusalem said Peter was right.
The early church had a lot of problems figuring out how to get Moses and Jesus to jibe. They went with Jesus every time that I can think of.
The disciples had a very hard time with some of the things Jesus taught in regards to Moses. The best example is Jesus saying it is not what goes into the mouth but what comes from the heart that defiles us. The disciples obviously were incredulous, Jesus seemed to be going against the Law of Moses. Eventually Christians threw the whole dietary thing out the window.Oops, sorry “Mos”.
I don’t know Kevin, it seems to me there is a fair amount of evidence to say that even Paul was an RLC. If not there is certainly high enough ground for being one that is not as easily disputed as you seem to think.
As the author and finisher of our faith, whenever Jesus speaks on a subject I think He wins. I do not think that makes the rest of scripture any less inspired or authoritative. If that means I am an RLC then I would gladly take the moniker. Anything less would be walking on water in the opposite sense.



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 10, 2007 at 3:05 pm


As the author and finisher of our faith, whenever Jesus speaks on a subject I think He wins
Wayne I believe this is where you are misunderstanding something . Do you belive Jesus affirms the bible’s meaning or contradicts it ?
The Bible teaches murder is wrong , Jesus affirms that but also teaches that if we hate another person that is murder . Adultry is wrong , but if we lust that is adultry . The Lord talks to the things in our heart that can lead to acting out sin . To me He affirms the scriptures and teaches a radical way of living , with the Help of the Holy Spirit , and the WORD of God . If you think the Holy Spirit is telling you something and it does not line up witht he Word of God , I would suggest it is not the Holy Spirit talking to you ?
That make sense ? The Red Letter thing bothers me also , I recall going to a Sunday School Class to help Beginning Christians in my denomination . We were talking about the Church of Cornith and the women speaking being told to be be silenced by Paul . To me that sounded like prejudice , and saud its only Paul saying this , its not that important . I think this is the problem many see with RLC . Of course I misunderstood the scripture , and may I add Jesus can also be taken out of context , The Bible should be used to confirm your undertsanding , not to take some parts to mean more then others . That is how I was taught and I find it a sound teaching . If you are taking the words Of Christ to contradict other messages in the Bible , I think you know Jesus well enough to understand that He would be concerned about your motive .



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Another nonymous

posted October 10, 2007 at 3:29 pm


Posted by: kevin s. | October 10, 2007 1:56 PM
“There is no necessary correlation between the nature of discourse and the actuality of the events. You impute this based on our present understanding of fiction and narrative, but there is no compelling reason to believe that Job was not a real person who experienced what the Bible says he did.”
I could just as easily say that you are imposing on this text a modern standard of factual accuracy that the Biblical writers would not have recognized. I could then go on to say that imposing such culturally inappropriate expectations on Scripture will lead inevitably to its being increasingly marginalized as the original functions and contexts of the texts are forgotten. That, frankly, is what concerns me, and I think I value the Bible as highly as you do.



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Wayne

posted October 10, 2007 at 4:21 pm


Mick
I definitely agree Jesus affirms the scripture. That said I don’t think Jesus necessarily affirms our current ideas of scripture, not many of the ones I was taught as a child anyway.
You and I probably agree on most of scripture. We can pose hypothetical situations but the one I wrote on was real. Moses and the Law said don’t eat certain foods. If you do eat them you will be unclean. Jesus said this was not true. He said it is not what goes into your mouth that makes you unclean but what comes out of your mouth. The disciples didn’t get it.
The proof that they didn’t get it is in Acts when Peter has to have the vision of the sheets repeated three times. This vision is very problematic because it reverses the law of Moses and all of its dietary restrictions. The voice in the vision is Jesus’.
This vision is the beginning of what opened the minds of Jewish believers to the idea of You and I being allowed to hear and receive the Gospel and live by Grace. Paul took this idea and based much of his theology and almost all of his ministry on it.
The point is Mick, it is a very real example of the first century church trumping the Old Testament with the teaching of Jesus. This does not negate the Old Testament or any of the New Testament, but it shows that it is certainly defensible to interpret the rest of scripture through the words of Jesus and/or to give Jesus’ words emphasis or priority over other scriptures.



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Anonymous

posted October 10, 2007 at 4:44 pm


The point is Mick, it is a very real example of the first century church trumping the Old Testament with the teaching of Jesus. This does not negate the Old Testament or any of the New Testament, but it shows that it is certainly defensible to interpret the rest of scripture through the words of Jesus and/or to give Jesus’ words emphasis or priority over other scriptures.
Thanks Wayne , That was a pretty good explanation, I see what your saying . But remember Paul giving it to Peter pretty good for being judgemental about the non Jews who were recent converts . Peter thought that they should act like Jews , But Paul got into his face somewhat teaching if you think it is a sin to eat that food , it is , if you don’t its not , just don’t do something to make the other think they are sinning . Paul did not tell Peter not to act like a Jew , just accept those who did not .
I see the Sermon on the Mount and the Ten Commandments being compatible . There are leftward leaning churhes in my area that promote and are joined at the hip with the politics of SOJO but believe all religions are equal , that we are not one body of Christ , but believe it is superior and take the Gospel to mean we are one body of the human kind . You often get quoted not to judge , use to be John 3;16 , at least at football games . ;o) I see that as a danger of not taking the whole Bible . Sort of taking the Dictionary but leaving out the words starting with vowels . ” I have a form of dylexia so this makes sense to me ”
I have listened to Rabbis explain the law as a means of keeping Jews closer with God . I believe it has something to do why we are to be fellowship with other believers , it keeps us accountable and focused on God .
. So I understand what your saying , I guess from my understanding though I see Jesus
enlightening what the Old Testament says . I never read the Old Teastament till I was in my 30’s . But I find so much Jesus in there all the time . I don’t see the contradictions that many see. I do have a hard time understanding what is going on , and evvery time I read it I notice the word is illuminated with what is going on around me at the time , I just think you are missing out somewhat if you don’t read the Prophets and such and take what they are saying as very important .



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Kevin Wayne

posted October 10, 2007 at 4:53 pm


I do think that this strikes at the core of why the concept of “Red Letter Christians” is problematic. If we prioritize the literal words of Christ , then we render the rest as a sort of fiction. Worse, if we assume that God simply inspired the Bible as a collection of instructive stories, then we can certainly call into question the divinity of Christ.

No…
BECAUSE I believe int he Divinity of Christ, I say his words are to be prioritized.



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 10, 2007 at 5:03 pm


Thanks again Wayne , I might have to reconsider and put this web page in my Christian folder instead of my political one . Perhaps the mis understanding by conservative folks like me in the RLC discussion is in my area so many of the liberal voices in regards to religion will quote thous shall not judge ,then have forums on if Christ was really divine or not . They share your politics and the SOJO editorials never seem to addree these churches . I just put you in the same box , me be bad again . I take what you say is why mess around , Christ says it best . You be cool .



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wayne

posted October 10, 2007 at 7:34 pm


Mick
Thank you.



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Kristi

posted October 10, 2007 at 8:16 pm


1) I agree that Paul would have said that Christ’s words take precedence over his own words, and even those of Moses. He would have understood that someone recording their own (or others)inspired words, is not the same as God saying something (via the person of Christ). If you equate them, then you are saying that Christ was not more important than any other biblical figure.
2) I also agree that RLCs put an emphasis on what Christ said specifically, because it has a much cleaner line of exegesis (though far from perfect) within Christian church. There is so much disagreement about what the rest of the Bible does or does not mean or imply. So if you use the “what would Jesus do?” filter, than you can be surer of your understanding of the original text. For example (and one that has already been used here)Jesus stated that adultery isn’t the problem itself, but the condition of the heart that perpetrates the adultery (ie a lustful nature). This is the true heart of the scripture, and not the judgemental finger pointing of the Pharisees, or any other tyrannical group that uses the bible to perpetrate suffering on others. Jesus always said, look to your own heart first.



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wayne

posted October 10, 2007 at 9:43 pm


Kevin,s and w, Don, Mick, Payshun, Rick, Moderatelad, Another anon and all the rest. Hope you all come back to this because I just have to tell you something that I am telling everybody.
We just got word Monday that my daughter and son in law are expecting their first baby in late May! I am going to be a Grand Father! My daughter is our eldest and the best young woman in the world. (In my always humble opinion). Can’t tell you all how happy I am right now.
I know this is completely selfish but I was just thinking about it and had to crow!



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 10, 2007 at 10:42 pm


wayne — Congrats.



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kevin s.

posted October 10, 2007 at 11:10 pm


“This is hard for me to get my head around Kevin. If we can read the Old Testament through the New or even read the New through the Old, how is reading the whole of scripture through the words of Jesus any different?”
I’m not entirely sure what you mean by reading the New through the Old. If you simply mean that we read the Old testament with the knowledge that the New Testament would follow, then this is different from prioritizing one over the other.
“I have to say that for a believer to have a problem with giving Jesus the final say in a matter is more than a little strange to me. Wouldn’t Moses say He followed Jesus? Wouldn’t Paul say the same?”
I have no problem giving Jesus the final say. I think the whole Bible is the final say of Jesus. God speaks through the words of Paul, and his word is infallible.
Here is how the difference plays out in practical terms. If one believes, as Campolo apparently does, that Christ’s words take precedence over the New Testament, when confronted with a paradox, he simply opts for whatever Christ said.
For those who believe that all of scripture is divinely inspired, and equally true, we work to resolve paradox by way of theological study. This is the method practiced by theologians who inform the versions of scripture from which we typically read.



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 10, 2007 at 11:15 pm


Wayne that Is AWESOME .
Its a blast , I have two Grandkids .
Wait till you ask your kid permission to give your Grandchild a popsicle or something , or better yet actually try to get your kid to be less strict with himor her .
The world changes uopside down , nothing better ,
Praise God,



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kevin s.

posted October 10, 2007 at 11:26 pm


Wayne – I add my congrats.
“I could just as easily say that you are imposing on this text a modern standard of factual accuracy that the Biblical writers would not have recognized.”
You can say that, of course. But that would be mere assertion. You drew a direct connection between narrative style and veracity. I said you utilized a modern standard of literary analysis to draw this conclusion. Applying a modern understanding of narrative to the questions of whether the events of the Old Testament actually happened is absurd, for reasons that I would think to be obvious.
“I could then go on to say that imposing such culturally inappropriate expectations on Scripture will lead inevitably to its being increasingly marginalized as the original functions and contexts of the texts are forgotten.”
You could say that these interpretations are culturally inappropriate, but I would ask you to bolster your case with some measure of evidence.
” If you equate them, then you are saying that Christ was not more important than any other biblical figure.”
Why is this necessarily so? How do you define importance? Is there a correlation between importance and reality?
“I also agree that RLCs put an emphasis on what Christ said specifically, because it has a much cleaner line of exegesis (though far from perfect) within Christian church.”
What do you mean by a “cleaner line of exegesis?” Why is this the goal? Shouldn’t accurate exegesis be the goal?
“There is so much disagreement about what the rest of the Bible does or does not mean or imply.”
True. However, much of the agreement stems from our desire to match scriptural teachings to our worldview. Such disagreements are not valid.
“So if you use the “what would Jesus do?” filter, than you can be surer of your understanding of the original text.”
Does Paul not indicate what Jesus would do? If not, then why did the divinely inspired texts include his message? Did he conflict with Jesus?
I would also add that Christ’s own words are a source of disagreement. Lot’s of it. I have heard the story of the virgins with the lamps interpreted to oppose tything in certain instances.
“For example (and one that has already been used here)Jesus stated that adultery isn’t the problem itself, but the condition of the heart that perpetrates the adultery (ie a lustful nature).”
Of what is this an example? The WWJD filter? I suppose, but how does this argue for your point?
“This is the true heart of the scripture, and not the judgemental finger pointing of the Pharisees, or any other tyrannical group that uses the bible to perpetrate suffering on others. Jesus always said, look to your own heart first.”
Absolutely. Would Paul say anything different? Or Moses? I’m just trying to figure out why this is relevant to the topic at hand.



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Another nonymous

posted October 11, 2007 at 8:35 am


“You could say that these interpretations are culturally inappropriate, but I would ask you to bolster your case with some measure of evidence.”
Actually, Kevin, the evidence is needed on your side. The interpretive framework that you’re applying is a creation of the modern scientific worldview, which looks for factual accuracy everywhere and cannot understand reality in any other terms. It would have been incomprehensible to the writers of the Bible.
Wayne, that’s fabulous! You’re entitled to crow. Blessings to you and your family.



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Wayne

posted October 11, 2007 at 9:51 am


Kevin
I think the context of this discussion is getting a little lost.
There are many denominations that do not preach the words of Jesus and teahc that in many cases at least, they do not apply to us today. In part this came out of the fundamentalist movement where the evangelical Church’s rich history of social involvement got lost and was abandoned for the most part.
Christians like me who were taught these things, have been rediscovering the Gospels since the latter half of the twentieth century. We have gone back to the Gospels and abandoned much of the teachings we received when we were younger. The Gospels are the cornerstone for this “New Evangelicalism” but I know that because of my attention to them I now have a richer understanding of the OT than I ever had.
I do not know of any who do what you say Tony C does, but, if I ever ran into something paradoxical and which after much study I could not reconcile, yes I would opt for Jesus’ statement on the subject. Jesus is the last and fullest revelation of who God is. I can see how it would be wrong to give him the only word, but fail to see how it is wrong to give Him the last word.
The statement about reading the OT through the NT etc. is just a reference to things others have stated here. Since you did not take exception to those statements I assumed you agreed with them. My bad.
Paul, an ardent believer in Mosaic Law, is at the center of the book of Acts and its record of the early church struggling with the doctrinal/social changes that the Gospel required of the first to believe. If he and Peter had not opted for the words of Jesus, we would probably not be here today discussing theology. It was the words of Jesus and how they literally changed the Law that opened the Gospel to us Gentiles. I know Jesus said that not one bit of the Law would pass away, but the fact is Peter’s vision of the sheets pretty much did away with the dietary sections of the Law and the racist implications that Jews had given the Law in total.
Go back and read the reaction of the Jewish Christians to Peter’s staying in a Roman’s home in Acts 11:1-3.
Paul’s statement that there is no more Jew nor Greek etc was an earth shattering application of Jesus words to the early church. This change was bolstered by the OT with James’ quote of the prophets in Acts 15, where he used verses which the Jews, like my old fundamentalist teachers, also seemed to have overlooked or misread.
The RLC movement is actually an attempt to get back to using the whole of scripture, it is not a negating of all else except what Jesus said.
Thanks for rejoicing with me about becoming a Grand Father. I have not been this emotional since my own children were born. For health reasons dating back to 1984 I did not expect to ever live to see this day. I am overwhelmed with this blessing.



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I and I

posted October 11, 2007 at 11:17 am


And I want to say, even though I was away from my computer and couldn’t continue in the discussion yesterday, that upon reading over all this it really struck me as a great discussion. Thank you all for the substantive and mostly polite postings; I’m printing it out so I can digest it further. And congrats, Wayne.



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tos

posted October 11, 2007 at 2:39 pm


Them and us. When we make them them and us us we take a huge step back from God.



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Tom Newell

posted October 11, 2007 at 9:32 pm


I have taken the time to read everyone’s posts and would like to make just a few observations.
1) This is my first time on this site, and as a matter of observation it seems that those supporting the RLC position, as a whole, are much more beligerent and close minded than the so-called religious right.
2) All Christ followers should be concerned about the poor, creation, etc. The debate, therefore, centers around the best way to do this. I firmly believe that history has proven that government welfare and higher taxes do not help. Rather it creates a class of citizens dependent on the state and thus a core constintuency for liberal socialists. Modern liberalism is nothing more than socialism and I challenge you to name any time in history when socialism actually benefited the masses. I challenge you to convince me that Jesus would have supported Karl Marx, Stalen, and Lenin.
3) Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John did not carry tape recorders. Therefore, the words in red must be taken by faith as inspiration just like the rest of the Bible. So far as Scripture must be used to interpret Scriptue it is wholly appropriate to use Christ’s words to help us understand other passages. However, it is also true that much of the New Testament is inspired writing to help us understand Christ’s words and how to live them out. One is as important as the other which is why we do not just have the Gospels, but the entire New Testament.
Sincerely,
Tom



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A non-liberal

posted October 12, 2007 at 8:19 am


Mr. Campolo,
You are either very naive or a Democrat power broker thinking you can still cover your Leftist tracks by presenting all nicey-nice.
Guthrie got it bulls-eye right about what is going on in Leftist politics. “You guys” are trying to dupe Christians into electing Democrats.
How interesting that you wuld present marriage from the “red letters” as “you guys” (and your wife) are planning to violate the immutability of marriage as a man and a woman. Seems the “Red Letters” of Jesus are not as important as you let on.
All of the Democrat “frontrunners” bowed low before the Gays and Lesbians and made it clear that the Red Letters of Jesus meant nothing to them.
And yet, you continue to peddle your Democrat theology (like a lock-step Progressive Democrat( as if nothing were wrong about it.
Onc the “Red Letters” are negotiable, the Apostles are nothing more than a nuisance.
Why not just be honest and proclaim your “new” religion?
Donny



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Andy

posted October 12, 2007 at 10:09 am


Whenever we label or name someone, it’s much easier to dismiss them, and then to stop listening to them, which is a bad thing. This fact has been proven repeatedly in these posts, from both sides of the fence. I have long been an admirer of Tony’s preaching and his work. His energy, his nutty (and fearless) sense of humor and his tireless work at genuinely trying to “live like a believer” have always made him a role model to me. I don’t always agree with him, but I always give him air time. To simply name and the dismiss him as a “liberal”, or to name and dismiss Stan as a “conservative”, is to be unfair and to miss the point entirely. These “RCL’s” are merely attempting to heed and obey our Lord’s words, and to invite all Christians to do the same.
That said, I see Stan’s point in questioning Tony on the whole “red letter” matter. I too believe that the “red letters” and the “black letters” are equally authoritative. I think Tony somewhat misunderstands the Hebrew Scriptures’ statements about “an eye for an eye”. Those laws were commands to make the punishment fit the crime, not license for us to take our own revenge. On the other hand, I do believe in the final authority of the New Testament, and that Jesus told us what the esssence of the Law is, which is love, for God and our neighbor. And I applaud the “RCL’s” attempts to call us all to take much, much more seriously what Jesus invites us to do as His followers.



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Andy

posted October 12, 2007 at 2:20 pm


Ooops! I meant “RLC’s”, not “RCL’s”. Sorry!



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Bill Samuel

posted October 12, 2007 at 10:10 pm


“Seek peace and pursue it.” Well, neuro-nurse, that is from the black letters of the Bible (Psalm 34:14), so should we ignore it? I like the phrase, and am thinking of making a sign with it to take to the weekly peace vigil I participate in. And it doesn’t bother me that the letters are not in red.
The RLC thing bothers me too, from several perspectives:
1. The point that has been most made here – it seems to discount the rest of scripture.
2. It carries to me a rather arrogant tone, a sense of attack on Christians who do not define themselves as RLCs.
3. It seems to be an argument for one type of literalism over another, rather than holding up the Spirit of Christ (didn’t Jesus say something about the Spirit rather than the letter?). I believe the Word (Christ, according to the scriptures) is above the words, and the words only get their authority from the Word and can only be truly understood if we are in the spirit of the Word. Part of the implication of the RLC thing seems to me to be saying we are fundamentalists too, but our fundamentalism is better than your fundamentalism. Doesn’t work for me.
How about being followers of Jesus Christ, rather than Red Letter Christians, fundamentalists, etc.?



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Katherine Wall

posted October 14, 2007 at 3:34 am


Mr. Campolo,
Like you, I am anti-war and committed to ending poverty, but that these views and goals are fundamentally Christian ones is clear not only from the Gospels but from the Bible as a whole, and our advocacy is undercut by accepting assertions that we base our theology on only four books of the Bible.
The books of Leviticus, so often despised among liberals, including liberal Christians, contains a radical philosophy on property relations that is more semi-communitarian than communist: every fifty years the land was to returned to families it originally belonged to at the entry into the Promised Land. Such a system provided surely that whatever the fiscal irresponsibility of one generation of a family, there could be no development of a permanent underclass or structural poverty, and was justified on the basis that “the land is [the Lord's] and [we] are but aliens and his tenants”. This chapter (Lev. 25) provides the very principle central to debt relief – the irresponsibility of earlier generations (and in many cases, the debts were incurred by brutal dictators who contributed little to the well-being of their people) should not provided a long-term burden for later ones, for everything on Earth belongs to God and all debts are owed ultimately to Him.
The same passage supports stewardship of the earth, saying that every seven years “the land is to have a year of rest” – we are to use the earth, for it is good and God has entrusted it to us for our good, but we are not to exhaust it.
The principles of justice for the poor are presented, if anything, in a far stronger manner in the books of the Prophets than in the Gospels, where in Isaiah 58 God gives the message:
“Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chain of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter…”
This passage follows a powerful indictment of a populace who are religious and “seem eager to know [God's] ways” and “seem eager for God to come near them” – religiosity, and even sincerity in our spiritual, life and relationship with God, mean NOTHING if we neglect the poor and the oppressed. Poverty is not a “leftist” issue; it is a human issue, and a Christian issue, and if it be defined as left-wing, than the Bible – the entirety of it – leave no question that our God is left-wing also.
My opposition to war and torture, also, is born not only of the teachings of the Gospel, but of God’s Word in Genesis that we are made in His image. If it is disgraceful to dishonour the flag, a representation of a mere earthly nation, how much more so to destroy and mutilate human being who are the very representation of our Creator and Lord?
I am not a red-letter Christian. I am a Christian who values the entire Bible and its messages, and believes that God did not undergo a sudden about-face in philosophy when he came to us in the person of Jesus. I am pro-life in all ways – anti-war, anti-abortion, pro-human rights, anti-poverty, anti-hunger and pro-justice – and my principles come from the Bible as a whole.
I find the question of whether homosexuality is morally acceptable, and what if any our political actions should be with relation to it, for the simple reason that is IS clearly and unequivocally condemned. But I believe, with no reservations, that it is a disgrace to our faith that an issue that occupies perhaps ten or twenty verses in the entire Bible has been elevated over the far more vital moral and ethical principles that recieve so much emphasis. Christianity must be reclaimed, and we will not do it by reducing it to something smaller than what it truly is.
Thank you,
Katherine Wall



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 14, 2007 at 10:46 pm


This is my first time on this site, and as a matter of observation it seems that those supporting the RLC position, as a whole, are much more belligerent and close minded than the so-called religious right.
The fact that there is even such a forum like this kind of dispels that notion. Many folks on the right won’t even allow you to question what they believe.
All Christ followers should be concerned about the poor, creation, etc. The debate, therefore, centers around the best way to do this. I firmly believe that history has proven that government welfare and higher taxes do not help.
That’s not really what it’s about — it’s whether our society can foster helping the poor to make their own way. I don’t see anything wrong with government programs if they help in that process. What conservatives offer, OTOH, is a form of I-got-mine-and-to-hell-with-you “social Darwinism” that flies in the face of the Scriptures.



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Stan

posted October 21, 2007 at 12:26 am


I am a minister in the conservative Assemblies Of God denomination, where I have been for over 35 years. During that time I have both heard and preached numerous sermons taken from the Sermon on the Mount and Matthew 25:31-46. I do agree that the “Red Letter” verses probably have slightly greater import because Jesus is the Logos (John 1:1). I can see no good exegesis however that would indicate Christ’s words are directed to human government but rather to the church and particularly its leaders. For instance, in Matthew 25:37 it is “the righteous” who anwser Him “When did we see you…”. It is incumbent on every believer to minister “to the least of these”, not the government. Personally, I have visited those in prison by being involved in jail ministry. But I also feel the best way this could have been implemented by government was by the Presidents’ faith-based initiatives, most of which were shot down by church/state separatists. As to war, I wonder if the RLC’s had been around in 1776 what they would have thought about the American Revolution? Should we have meekly submitted ourselves to the tyranny of King George?



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 21, 2007 at 7:32 pm


But I also feel the best way this could have been implemented by government was by the Presidents’ faith-based initiatives, most of which were shot down by church/state separatists.
Part of that was because they were used to evangelize, and that was part of the motivation for “compassionate conservatism” in the first place — to get people “saved” and cleaned up morally but do nothing to change their circumstances or environment. In other word, it was done on the cheap.
As to war, I wonder if the RLC’s had been around in 1776 what they would have thought about the American Revolution? Should we have meekly submitted ourselves to the tyranny of King George?
Had a poll been taken then you would have found that 1/3 of the people favored independence, 1/3 favored staying with England and the rest couldn’t have cared less. Besides, the American Revolution was anti-England anyway, as many of the settlers in the mountain areas were Scotch-Irish and didn’t like England anyway. In the book “Born Fighting” by Jim Webb, now a U.S. senator from Virginia, he wrote that it was a “Presbyterian revolution,” the Presbyterian Church the official church of Scotland.



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Stan

posted October 22, 2007 at 11:10 am


“Part of that was because they were used to evangelize, and that was part of the motivation for “compassionate conservatism” in the first place — to get people “saved” and cleaned up morally but do nothing to change their circumstances or environment.” – Sorry but I’m not buying it. They were doomed from the start because some would keep people from getting the real help they need in order to preserve that mythical “wall” between church and state which does not exist in the Constitution.
But a further point – why is it that the group that most Christians would consider the “least” of the “least of these” – the unborn – marginalized in many liberal denominations?



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Joshua Campbell

posted October 31, 2007 at 4:04 pm


I have not had time to wade through all of the remarkable comments and posts on this blog. So if I am repeating something someone else has said, I apologize for the redundancy.
John 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”
I’m no Bible scholar, but I’m pretty sure that Word here is referring to Christ.
In Colossians 1:15-17, it says “He (that is Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
We all know how the Bible starts…In the beginning ect. ect. And then there is the part where God spoke…”Let there be light.” Right?
So we know that Christ is the Word. Scripture’s pretty clear. We also know that Scripture says that all things were made through Him, and when God began to create, He did so by speaking things into existence.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but since that is true, isn’t everything God has said spoken by or through Christ? So technically speaking, if God spoke the words, breathed them, as it were, that are contained in the Bible, wouldn’t then the whole Bible technically be Red Letters?
Just wondering.



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Chris

posted November 1, 2007 at 11:13 am


Joshua,
You are right, they are all really red. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega and the Author of all scripture. (the WORD)
I am not really sure what the point is of being a RLC. But I do find it interesting that those defending them on this blog seem to be the most vicious, especially in their attacks on someone they have never met and know almost nothing about. They seem quite ready to dimiss any one who disagrees with RLC’s as one of “them,” as a member of the evil religious right who just want to steal from the poor and give to the rich.



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Semper Fi

posted November 21, 2007 at 5:39 pm


There is a real danger is being a RLC. The entire Word of God is inspired. Consider the words of Jesus:
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
(Mat 5:17-20 KJV)
Also, the words of Paul the Apostle:
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
(2Ti 3:16-17 KJV)
Giving handouts to those who are able, but unwilling, to do things for themselves is not charity, and it’s not something Jesus taught. It’s stupidity. Putting feet to the Gospel is helping widows and orphans. Voting for liberals that want to give these handouts is lunacy.



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Stephen Murphy

posted December 8, 2011 at 6:01 pm


Right on Tony – it’s too bad there are sides in the Church, I echo Jesus prayer for unity – I’m sure it’s in red in some Bibles.



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