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Are You a Red Letter Christian?
Globalism - Ecumenism
Friday, February 23, 2018
Alf Cengia

Are you a Red Letter Christian? What do Red Letter Christians exactly mean by that term anyway? How do they see themselves? Should we all follow their examples?

You can read a self-description HERE:

Staying true to the foundation of combining Jesus and justice, Red Letter Christians mobilizes individuals into a movement of believers who live out Jesus’ counter-cultural teachings.

By inference, the term applies to the words spoken by Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Many Bibles have these words in red. So, it ought to mean following Jesus' words to the letter. In reality it doesn't quite work like that.

This column will no doubt be my subjective take on the matter. But it isn't much of a secret that Red Letter Christians (RLCs) are inexorably tied in with popular issues of Social Justice. When I hear the term my immediately mind goes to people like Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis, Shane Claiborne, Rachel Held Evans and Jen Hatmaker, among others.

Wallis is the founding editor of Sojourners Magazine. A quick perusal of the magazine's headlines gives a clear indication as to where they stand. For example one recent contribution by Wallis states that, "Trump’s Immigration Policies Are Anti-Family, Anti-American, and Anti-Christ."

I believe it's fair to say that RLCs tend to Leftist issues such as immigration, Climate Change, gun control, the Arab-Israeli conflict, racial injustice, LGBT rights etc. They sometimes side with the Pro-Choice lobby and defend Planned Parenthood. At the very least they hijack the term "Pro-Life" and use it as leverage against Capital Punishment.

They are unanimously opposed to Donald Trump and fundamentalist Christian support for him - and the GOP for that matter. A recent Juicy Ecumenism article asked, "Will ‘Red Letter Revival’ Turn Hearts to Jesus, or merely agitate against Trump?"

According to Chelsen Vicari:

Washington, DC - Religious Left activists are announcing a revival planned for Lynchburg, Virginia as a seeming provocation aimed at Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. Evangelical Left activist Shane Claiborne of the group Red Letter Christians has repeatedly challenged the University President to public debate, prompted by Falwell’s unabashed defense of U.S. President Donald Trump and his policies.

It's clear that political activism figures prominently in the Red Letter make-up (as well as those it opposes). However, the assumption that people who differ with RLC activism, are automatically pro-Trump, is erroneous. Regarding Trump, John MacArthur put it very well - even though he was criticized for it. See this snippet.

MacArthur knew from personal experience that certain non-pc public religious expressions were increasingly being challenged and threatened under the current administration. Hillary Clinton stumped on a platform which promised an escalation of what the Obama Admin stood for.

A quick look around the Red Letter Christian website reveals folks who are pro-Clinton  and some who are frustrated at the slowness of marriage-equality enactment. One writer notes problems with Clinton re abortion (Let's just call it murder of the pre-born shall we?), marriage and religious freedom. But apparently Trump's alleged racism and immigration injustice disqualify him.

On the marriage-equality issue:

Let churches and couples deem for themselves what marriage means and if they want to engage in a ritual to affirm that publicly. But rather than fight over the definition of what “marriage” means, I’m far more concerned about the ongoing denial of equal rights to millions in our midst in the meantime. (Emphasis mine)

That sounds awfully cultural, rather than "counter-cultural." The issue of homosexuality was raised in a Q & A session between Shane Claiborne and Rachel Held Evans.

Claiborne responded that this shouldn't be discussed in ideologies, or talking at people. He said he had, "plenty of apologetics on what [he] thought Scripture said about homosexuality." But then became he friends with someone who was gay and who wanted to kill himself because he thought God made a mistake.

Claiborne wants us to re-examine what our faith is and whether it embodies good news for these folks as well. He is allowing his friend's condition and the flow of the culture to form his position in this instance.

But what would Jesus say?

The red letter portions of the New Testament were recorded by those who Jesus commissioned. You can't take bits of the red and ignore other parts as you please. Jesus affirmed Scripture and spoke a good deal about hell and sin - something RLCs tend not to focus on.

James White's interaction with Matthew Vine's 40 questions for Christians who oppose Marriage equality should be read by those interested in biblical answers, rather than the culture. Also former lesbian Rosaria Butterfield's Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert is recommended reading.

Significantly, Rachel Held Evans doesn't like the good news as delivered by Butterfield and Christopher Yuan. The difference between her grievances and Butterfield and Yuan's personal testimonies is, simply, the latter two's willingness to identify with and follow Christ. I'd argue that that makes them true Red Letter Christians.

I want finish this off with Tony Campolo. Campolo's sense of social justice has seen him align with the Christ at the Checkpoint activists. While he claims both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have issues, he thinks Israel is especially guilty:

When you begin comparing this to Apartheid in South Africa, you immediately communicate to the American people…The phrase has power...

Campolo's use of apartheid in reference to Israel is erroneous and lamentable. This false charge encourages violence and activism. Christian pro-Palestinian lobbyists even excuse it. Should Red Letter Christians indulge in inaccurate inflammatory accusations?

Again, what would Jesus say?

Well He had a lot to say about the end times in the Olivet Discourse and in Revelation. Much of this information is found in the prophets, and it concerns Israel. We ought to be RLCs in the sense that we embrace the whole counsel of God, not just the bits which satisfy our particular social justice urges.

In light of this, shouldn't all RL Christians be paying attention to what's happening in the Middle East around Israel? Read the Olivet Discourse and compare it to Zechariah chapters 13 and 14.

And pay some close attention to the context of this verse:

For thus says the LORD of hosts: "He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. Zech 2:8

The Lord may be returning sooner than we think. Are we ready?

About Alf Cengia

Last week: Social Justice Warriors, Israel and Prophecy

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