Sunday, November 4, 2012

Red Letter Revolution - Book Review

Red Letter Revolution takes a closer look at the words Jesus says in the Bible and challenges Christians to take those words seriously. In some Bibles, the words of Jesus are written in red ink. I've never seen a Bible like that, so I was unfamiliar with the "red letter" concept before reading this book. But that's where the book's title and the name of those who adhere to the Bible's red letters, Red Letter Christians, comes from.

The book is set up in dialogue format between its two authors, Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo. Having read one of Claiborne's other books, Jesus for President, I knew to expect a non-traditional format. The dialogue actually comes from recorded conversations between the authors that were later transcribed to form the first stages of the book. When I found out that, it made me happy. I would have been disappointed if the "dialogue" had just been the two men writing separately and then merging their writings. I was glad that the dialogue did have an organic beginning.

The authors discuss a variety of topics that are divided into three sections: Red Letter Theology, Red Letter Living, and Red Letter World. The first section deals with the history of the church and what Jesus has to say about liturgy, saints, hell, Islam, and economics. There are so many great parts in this section, but I'll only share one with you. This comes from the chapter about Islam: "As Christians, we should be the best collaborators in the world. We should be quick to find unlikely allies and subversive friends, like Jesus did." (58)

The second section deals with topics such as family, being pro-life, environmentalism, women, racism, homosexuality, immigration, civil disobedience, and giving. I really liked this section, even though I didn't agree with everything that was written. But even on those issues I disagreed with, the arguments made were rational, and I understood the authors' points. My favorite passage from this section comes from the chapter on homosexuality: "[N]one of the red letters have anything to say about [homosexuality]. Jesus never spoke about homosexuality, and it was not that he didn't know about it... Homosexuals were not on his big-ten hit list of people to condemn. Number one on his list were religious leaders who made it a policy, according to Matthew 23:4, 'to lay heavy burdens on people and do nothing to lift those burdens.'" (131-32)

There were some topics in this section that I felt were too short. I really wanted the dialogues to continue because I felt that there was still more to talk about, or at least I had questions that needed answering.

The last section, Red Letter World, deals with how Red Letter Christians can help those in need around the world. Topics include empire, politics, war and violence, national debts, the Middle East, global church, reconciliation, missions, and resurrection.

This is really a fantastic book that everyone should read. It's great for Christians who feel like they don't fit in with the stereotypical, negative Christian image. It's an eye-opener for Christians who do embody the stereotypical, negative image. And non-Christians would especially benefit from reading this book and knowing that not all Christians are "anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-environmentalist, pro-war, pro-capital punishment, and conservative Republican." (XI) Some of us are Red Letter Christians.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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