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Red Letter Revolution: What if Jesus Really Meant What He Said?
By Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo
Thomas Nelson, 2012, 272 pages
Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne are evangelical religious professionals who are progressive Christians. Red Letter Revolution is a book of dialogues between Mr. Campolo, an emeritus professor and pastor, and Mr. Claiborne, leader of the Simple Way community in a rundown neighborhood in Philadelphia.
Both are also prominent in world and national religious circles, and in this book they give their thoughts about conducting their lives and activities according to what Jesus said and taught — and they hope that others will follow Jesus in the same manner.
As Mr. Campolo wrote in the introduction, “... 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, however, who are theologically evangelical, but who defy that image. Trying to escape that definition, a group of us gathered together to adopt a new name for ourselves: Red Letter Christians.”
Red Letter Revolution shows Mr. Campolo and Mr. Claiborne as being open and welcoming to the world and to Jesus' words rather than isolating themselves in groups of like-thinking Christians who use Scripture to support aims of their own prosperity.
Mr. Claiborne and Mr. Campolo speak of theology, to explain the approach of Red-letter Christianity. They have a section on social issues of today, including conversations on the environment, on racism, and on homosexuality — with Mr. Campolo explaining his position that individual churches should have the choice whether to perform same-sex marriages, along with his advocating that the government get out of the practice of licensing marriage and focus on providing civil rights to all.
The final section of Red Letter Revolution is on world issues, including war, debt, churches, and Christian beliefs about the future.
It is refreshing to read about two people with social and spiritual commitments, from different generations, who’d like their religion to focus on its chief prophet’s words and actions and to show the relevance of Jesus’ teachings two millennia after his ministry. The reader also gets to see that there are some differences between the two authors.
“We are aware that while we agree for the most part on theology and social ethics, living out what we believe has taken different forms for each of us,” Mr. Campolo wrote. More important than their differences is the mutual support in their evangelism that makes this a thorough book.
Both Mr. Campolo and Mr. Claiborne are activists and teachers who have followers; it would be nice if their shared book leads more religious people to live and relate to others in an authentic and spiritual way.