"Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?" by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo is written as a dialogue between the two authors. They introduce it as a "new movement" of believers who attempt to take seriously the words of Christ and commit to living them out in daily life. Overall, they tackle twenty-six different topics, including hell, Islam, family, racism, homosexuality, immigration, politics, war, national debt, and missions, divided into three separate sections.
There are some good points in the book. Both authors call the church out on handling finances--do we have a balance between what we use for ourselves and what we give away to take care of those in need (both within and without our church)? Both authors call us back to being good stewards of creation, a hearkening back to God's call to Adam in Genesis 1.
But overall, the book had far more troubling aspects than good ones. I found it to be pretty reductionist and incomplete. For example, evangelism has been reduced to "recruiting agents for God's work in this world" (p. 51). Missions is reduced to simply helping the poor. There is no sense for the real true Gospel in this book. By placing so much emphasis on helping the poor, with that being the end goal of evangelism and missions, you have developed a works-based theology with no discussion of grace. The only aspect of God's character that is ever talked about is love; anger is covered, but really only in regard to the religious people (a barely covered jab at evangelicals).
To me, this book is a piece of liberal propaganda that panders to those who want a Christianity that conforms to the secular culture. It is a call to activism--but an activism that emphasizes works instead of grace, meeting practical needs instead of the true message of the Gospel. Many things in the book may sound good upon first reading them, but as you begin to ponder it, you begin to see the holes in their arguments, especially in light of what the entire Bible says. Could we all stand to take more seriously the words of Christ? Yes. But we enter dangerous territory when we pick and choose only portions of Scripture to take seriously, as these authors are apt to encourage.
This is not a book I can in good conscience recommend to anyone. It's light on theology and heavy on social justice with a few carefully chosen Scriptures thrown in for good measure. I think I'll stick with my Bible--the entire Bible--and a few more doctrinally sound authors.
(I've received this complimentary book from Thomas Nelson Publishing House through the Book Sneeze program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)
I used to be a huge fan of Campolo, but in recent years he seems to be trying to endear himself to a younger generation by partaking of their worldview. Though he and Claiborne are many years apart chronologically, they are definitely on the same page mentally, and though this mock "dialogue" is supposed to highlight their differences, they differ on little. The book could be interesting anyway, except that a valid point is followed by something completely silly, like people bringing their pets to church. They recommend practices such as praying the rosary and making the sign of the cross - which are fine for people raised as Catholics, but to suggest Protestants adopt these (since they abandoned at the Reformation) shows a rather shallow view of spiritually. Will making the sign of the cross really make us better Christians?
Also, both authors claim to oppose Christians involvement in politics, yet it's clear they only oppose conservative politics, not liberal. They accuse evangelicals of cherrypicking Bible verses to support their positions, yet both of them do exactly the same throughout the book. Frankly, the book is an attempt at "stealth liberalism." Campolo has had an evangelical following for many years, and he knows lots of evangelicals will buy a book with his name on it. But his "red-letter Christianity" is just a new name for theological liberalism. As Ecclesiastes says, "Nothing new under the sun."
I was so excited to find this book. Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne both live out their faith and I was curious to see what their discussions together would look like. The book does not disappoint.
Red Letter Revolution is styled as a number of discussions between Tony and Shane on various topics facing Christians, ranging from church history and Islam to homosexuality and politics. The title comes from the old publishing technique of printing Bibles with the words of Jesus in red. Their hope is to inspire Christians around the world to take these words seriously and consider what it means to live them out in their daily lives.
I really enjoyed the discussion style of the book, as it allowed both men to share their personal stories or reflections in their own voice. The book changes font styles between the two, which also helped me "hear" their voices as I read. I thought they did an excellent job of addressing a number of real, relevant issues in our world without ever feeling heavy-handed that you had to agree with everything they said.
If you're curious about this idea, go check out http://www.redletterchristians.org to read what others are saying about how those "red letters" shape their lives.
"Red Letter Revolution" written by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo is less a book and more a dialogue between two friends. The two authors, Tony and Shane, are sharing in their own personal experiences as a disciple of Jesus Christ and their understanding that the church is in need of, what I would call, rebranding from evangelical Christians to "Red Letter" Christians. Claiborne and Campolo, both have a strong voice in the Emerging Church movement and as a result this book seems to be targeted toward that audience. Their intention in this book is to distinguish that a "Red Letter" Christian is one who takes very serious the words of Jesus Christ and attempts to live them out, well, to the letter.
While I do not agree with everything that these two gentlemen set forth in this book, I do believe that as a disciple of Jesus Christ we are called to take very serious his teaching, and do all that we can to live them out on a moment by moment basis. Being a Christian means that we not only take to heart what Jesus said in the New Testament, but that we also take to heart the full council of Scripture. Being a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ requires that we take to heart not only the "Red Letters" but also all of the "Black Letters." While I applaud their efforts in drawing the readers toward a deeper commitment to the words and teachings of Jesus, I would recommend that all readers understand the being a Christian requires us to study all of God's word not just the "Red Letters."
This book is fantastic. It is written by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo. I have read books by both authors and have thoroughly enjoyed them as well as have been incredibly challenged. This book does not disappoint.
It is a conversation between the two authors as they discuss many different topics that Christians need to hear about, not things they want to hear about. It is a book that you cannot read in one sitting because it is so intense, in depth and very challenging. There are many people I would encourage to read this book. It is a great book to encourage Christians to live beyond Sunday mornings. To become, red letter believers.
They discuss the difference between those who read the red letters in the Bible, and those who live the red letters in the Bible, which is what Jesus calls us to. I will be recommending this book for sure!