A question that many younger followers of Jesus are asking is: What if Jesus meant what he said?
It seems like an odd question on the surface. We’d be tempted to answer: Of course he did! Which exposes the deep importance that the question gets at.
Many of us who graduated just before or after the turn of the millennium have asked this question in various ways for the past decade or so. We’ve noticed that what we see in Scripture and specifically in the teachings (and actions) of Jesus isn’t always manifested in the life of God’s people. We’ve sanitized the revolutionary red letters of Scripture!
Today, Red Letter Revolution: What if Jesus Meant What He Said? by Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne officially releases. I’m working through the book as we speak and plan to say more about it during these next few days.
Here’s what I like about the book so far:
- It deals with most of the important issues facing Christians in the West today.
- It’s written in a dialogue format. Interestingly, they chose Times New Roman for Tony Campolo’s parts and a hip Ariel-esque font for Shane Claiborne’s parts. The conversational style feels as though we are “flies on the wall” on a conversation that puts into language the generational baton being passed from trailblazers like Tony (add to that list Ron Sider and Jim Wallis) and younger radicals like Shane.
- I like the tone that they write with, respectable towards those who would be more compatible with traditional evangelical views. Tony even cites Jerry Falwell positively in the Pro-Life chapter without any sort of qualification (even though he clearly disagrees with him on several points).
- I like that I can hand this to a friend who is wrestling with the question “What if Jesus meant what he said?” and trust that they will be able to take steps forward in their quest for answers after reading this book.
To give you a taste of the premise of the book, here is the first paragraph, written by Tony:
Whenever the word evangelical is used these days, a stereotype comes to mind. Whether or not that image is justified can be debated, but there is little argument that the word evangelical conjures up an image of Christians who are anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-environmentalist, pro-war, pro-capital punishment, and conservative Republican. There are many of us who are theologically evangelical, however, but defy that image. Trying to escape that definition a group of us gathered together to adopt a new name for ourselves: Red Letter Christians (IX).
Are you ready to join the Red Letter Revolution? If so, this book is for you. Are you curious about the next generation of Christian young people and what many of them value? Then this is a book worth picking up. Do you want to take Jesus at his word? Read this book and listen as two people, an older man and a younger one, discuss what they think it means to take the red letters of the Gospels seriously!