Culture and the Church: New Ideologies: Red Letter Christians

The Red Letter Christians describe themselves as “a network of effective, progressive, Christian communicators urging an open, honest and public dialogue on issues of faith and politics.”  This is a network of well-known Christian leaders, such as Dr. Tony Campolo, Shane Claiborne, Chap Clark, Tony Jones, and Brian McLaren, who have united because they “believe and seek to put in to action the red letter words in the Holy Bible spoken by Jesus” by addressing the political issues that they believe Jesus would be concerned about such as social justice.   This has sparked the release of several books on the subject including Dr. Tony Campolo’s Red Letter Christians, Jim Wallace’s God’s Politics, and Shane Claiborne’s upcoming book Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals. They are speaking out to address political issues due to the following statement from their website:

“For decades, leaders of the Religious Right have attempted to convince Christians and the American public that people of faith and strong moral values have only one option when it comes to voting. This narrow view continues to overshadow the majority of Christians in America whose faith motivates them to care deeply about a range of ethics and values. Our nation is hungry for an open dialogue on moral values and its role in the public square. God is not a Republican or a Democrat, and candidates should be measured by examining an array of social and economic issues.”

The website goes on to state that: “The goal of the group is to advance the message that our faith cannot be reduced to only two hot button social issues – abortion and homosexuality. Fighting poverty, caring for the environment, advancing peace, promoting strong families, and supporting a consistent ethic of life are all critical moral and biblical values.”

This is a cry from a new group of people is to redefine Christian politics and issues that matter to Christians in a way that makes Christian voters look at more than just voting with the Republican Religious Right.   Jim Wallace goes on to further the issue in the article “Red Letter Christians” where he states:

“When Jesus tells us he will regard the way we treat the hungry, the homeless, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner as if we were treating him that way, it likely means he wouldn’t think capital gains tax cuts for the wealthy and food stamp cuts for the poor represent the best domestic policy. Or when he tells us “love your enemies” and “blessed are the peacemakers,” it might be hard to persuade him to join our “war against terrorism,” especially when there is so much “collateral damage” to civilians, including women and children.

Yes, Jesus is a problem —for many of our churches, the Wall Street traders, and the powerful people in Washington who maintain the American Empire. But for millions of people, religious or not, Jesus remains the most compelling figure in the world today. The church may not be much more credible than the advertisers, the media, or the politicians, but Jesus remains far above the rest of the crowd. Somehow, Jesus has even survived the church and all of us who name his name but too often forget most of what he said.”

Wallace then goes on to recommend Brian McLaren’s The Secret Message of Jesus and Shane Claiborne’s The Irresistible Revolution and comments that these books are “evidence that believers are waking up and catching on fire with the gospel again. Their vision can’t easily be put into categories of liberal and conservative, left and right, but rather has the capacity to challenge the categories themselves. These books are a manifesto for all those “red letter” Christians who have fallen in love with Jesus again and want to live their faith in this world, and not just the next. God is again doing something new.”

I think that the heart of this Red Letter Christian Movement is to be Jesus to the world through being involved in social justice and reaching out to the least of these, but I think that the gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be minimized to be only thoughts like “Jesus did this so I will do this.”  The gospel is a message of a Savior who not only lived out a missional way but who went to the cross to die for the sins of the world.  In this whole Red Letter Christian movement, the cross of Jesus Christ and the gospel have become a missing element.  Without the gospel, we are all headed to a Christ-less eternity and when we miss that does it really matter if we lived a good life and cared for those who are hurting?  Hurting people without Jesus may be temporarily alleviated from their hurting by our help, but our temporary help will eventually come to a close and they will be hurting once again.  I am not saying that we should not be involved in helping the hurting and social justice issues, but we should not minimize the gospel while loving the least of these.

  • I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Mike Harmon

  • Without the gospel, we are all headed to a Christ-less eternity and when we miss that does it really matter if we lived a good life and cared for those who are hurting? Hurting people without Jesus may be temporarily alleviated from their hurting by our help, but our temporary help will eventually come to a close and they will be hurting once again.

    I think it matters a great deal. People notice motives. When we only help people so that we can convert them, they see that and realize that our “love” for them is conditional.

    I used to be a part of a ministry that was extremely gong-ho about evangelism and we really pushed ourselves to get out there and share the gospel. We knew it was important to help the hurting, and we told ourselves it was important, but in reality we just didn’t have the time to help them, we where too busy pushing ourselves to get out there and share the gospel. Oh we did occasional things… once a year we’d do some event to help the needy. We grew in numbers and we had doctrine stuff down pat, but we were shallow spiritually because we only paid lip service to loving others.

    It doesn’t appear to me that the Red Letter guys are minimizing the gospel here, rather they are motivated by the gospel to take action, and not just lip service and/or conditional love for others. Helping the hurting needs to be an integrated part of our Christianity, even when we don’t get to share the gospel, because we love others even when they don’t want the gospel, even when they actively oppose it.

  • ReV.Dr.B.JOHN EMMANUEL RAJU.DD

    GOSPEL and SOCIAL SERVICES

    ACCORDING TO BIBLE: StMatthew: 25:34-40

    KANURU – 534329, WEST GODAVARI
    DISTRICT, ANDRA PRADESH, SOUTH
    INDIA
    E-MAIL:bjiraju@yahoo.com
    bjiraju@rediffamail.com
    Phone numbers: 00918819225799
    Cell phone: 009989608711

    Rev. B.J.EMMANUEL RAJU, B.Th., M.Div, DD
    Preparing Soldiers for Christ
    Praise God for the Wonderful testimony of my dream mission for the preparation of soldiers for Christ. I have gotten an opportunity by the Grace of God to strive to know, follow, initiate and belong to Jesus Christ in a very deep and special way made available to a lay person. It has been raised up by Holy Spirit to answer the needs of our times and to evangelize our secular society to reach out to hundreds of uncharted people and fallen away faithful and to teach faithful how to live out and deepen their lives in Christianity in the remote tribal villages. They find their strength and energy in a life of prayer centered on the faith.
    Please let me introduce myself. I am Rev.Dr.B.JOHN Emmanuel Raju, D.D. I am 44 years old. I am doing the Jesus Christ Service for the past 20 years. We have visited 15 surrounding villages regularly to lead the people towards Jesus Christ by my Gospel. On this occasion, I am distributing Gospel Tracks, new Testaments and other material of biblical subject to the people of these villages. In order to achieve these objectives, I used to visit door to door and praying for their illness and help the poor widows, orphans by providing food, shelter, clothing, medicines and financial support for their essential needs like medical treatment, education etc.
    On my personnel prayers, I always remember “O my Jesus, you have said, “Truly I say to you, ask and it will be given you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you” (Mt 7:7)
    We are using our profession, education, talents and skills in the mission to serve the poor and needy. By the grace of god, I have been in this mission for over 21 years and I am very grateful to god for allowing me to be little part of his great work. Without rendering such a service people might otherwise be condemn to their state of poverty. The poor around us desperately need our service to educate, care for and lift them up from their state and teach them how to improve their quality of life and standard of living. We educate people how to make good use of resources and foods available them. We are also providing first aid in the field of health care. So many people are sick and fear going to hospitals for a variety of reasons. People are just suffering the disease and dying unnecessarily. People are afraid to open about their ailments, but when they know we are a missionary to release them and they easily open up bout their problems which are most of the time easily solvable. When remote tribal people go to hospital, the doctors are typically rough and uncompassionate with the patients. It seems they are only concerned about the money. Many times, if don’t pay upfront, no matter how bad of shape you are in, they won’t treat you.
    I know people who have died because they didn’t have the funds to pay the Doctor for a life threatening surgery; we make an arrangement to provide a doctor who is a member of my mission. He takes his time and is patient with them. He also helped many people get through and recover from simple as well as serious illness.
    Dear brothers and sisters, Praise the Lord. This is my service and Gospel, Social work to my surrounding village people.
    In the Service of the poor and remote tribal area’s children, we are conducting regular weekly Sunday schools and medical camps, food, clothing, education etc. We are making them as good citizens of this country. Around 50 children are getting our services in orphanage home.
    As on today, we have an enormous response from the village people who were massively converted to Christianity and they stand for Jesus Christ. They were participating our regular weekly masses with dedication and full faith. Here presently around 100 or above member in each church are running in 15 different remote villages with 24 churches. Each church is running with one poor Pastor who is also dedicatedly working beyond their capacity. Some of the churches does not have permanent buildings also. But still our pastors are actively conducting their regular weekly masses.
    Church Members gathered under the Tree for conducting Weekly Sunday Mass
    Now we have started an innovative programmed to service the old age people and widow in our churches and their neighboring areas. In these programs we are supplying food, cloths, and medicines regularly and also preparing them for gospel by door to door campaign for conducting prayers and lead the new souls toward Jesus. Pray for us as we are going to construct a shelter for them to improve their services and make this program success.
    Please help for construction of bible collage or children home. These are the details GIVEN below Para.
    We are also conducting bible classes & collages for the youth to make them confident to become a preacher. The total members of youth in my service and in ministry are 250 above for the youth to make them confident to become a preacher. Kindly pray for this effort as we are struggling hard for procuring books, bible material and various Gospel books and other stationary. We also are planning to provide a shelter for them. So that this programmed may take in large scale and also planning to expand our mission beyond our present remote villages. We have also delegate a responsibility to the youth who are well trained with us, to the remote villages still nobody knows about Jesus and spreading this gospel even remote corers of the tribal villages in West Godavari. In order to achieve this programmed, we are hiring a rented vehicle, with rented sound systems, electrical, visual media equipment for every week. Because of limited resources, we could not make up this programmed so successful. Kindly pray for us to procure vehicle and own electrical, visual media equipment so that we can extend our support to Gospel with these bright and young & dynamic youth achieve wonderful and fruitful result.
    Distribution of Books, Slates, Plates & Glasses to the Children of Poor in Remote Tribal Area
    We have distributed food items, mats, buckets and other essential commodities for the victims of the fire accident
    We are distributing the ration and essential commodities like rice, mats, buckets etc to the victims of Fire accident
    We are also conducting medical camp to the poor remote tribal women
    Medical Camp: Doctor giving instruction to the poor patients
    Distributing Cloths to the Old age Widows in the remote village by Rev. Dr.B.J.EMMANUEL RAJU, Gospel & social work missionary
    At last I wish to convey that while conducting such a wonder programs, we are facing financial crisis, and social crisis etc. Despite of all these hurdles we have determined to putforth our service. So far I am conducting these programmed with the mobilization of local
    Funds through my colleagues. I am a middle class person and with the help of such likeminded employee’s participation we are going in such a progressive gospel program me. We don’t have any external funds apart from my salary and some small contributions from my employees. So I am requesting all of you that any type of help such as medicines, books, visual media equipment, vehicle provision, etc may definitely helpful in Gospel and I beg you that kindly became an associate in my service by extending your support and your prayers.
    For all these programmers’ are conducting under my guidance while facing so many difficulties and also I am engaging on this task round the clock for the Lord Jesus and the reason for such an effort is by the holy bible verse “I PRESS TOWARD THE MARK FOR THE PRIZE OF THE HIGHCALLING OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS” Phil: 3:14.”
    FOR US SPECIFIED CHURCH IS NOT THERE THAT’S WHY WE ARE PRAYING IN THE TENTS.PLEASE PRAY AND HELP FOR CONSTRUCTION OF CHURND TELL TO THEM TO PRAY AND HELP USCH IN 2008 IS OUR AIM. WE ARE TRYING A LOT.PLEASE PRAY AND SHARE OUR PROBLEM WITH NEIGBOURS .A.

    PLEASE PRAY AND HELP FOR THE POOR PASTOR, ORPHANS CHILDERNS, FOR CONSTRUCTIONS OF CHURCHS IN AND BIBLE COLLEGE IN MY VILLAGE SORROUNDING AREAS .OUR YOUTH MEMBERS ARE VERY INTRESTED TOWARDS JESUS.IAM AND MY PASTORS TOGETHER GATHERED AND DESCOUSED ABOUT THE MATTER BIBLE COLLEGE IN OUR VILLAGE .TO MAKE THE YOUTH , IN FUTHER PASTOR AND TO DO JESUS WORKS IN THEIR DAILY LIFE AND TO PREACH THE BIBLE WORDS TO THEPEOPLES IN DIFFERET PLACESES .AND WE ALSO DIDN’T HAVE CHURCHS IN MY VILLAGE SORROUNDING AREAS .WE ARE COLLECTING SOME FUNDS .THAT FUNDS ARE TOTALLY SPENDING FOR ORPHANS CHILDERNS ,AND FOR THEIR MAINTAINS..THE PEOPLE ARE INTRESTED IN CONSTRUCTING THE A NEW CHURCHS. WE TRYING VERY HARD FOR CONSTRUCTION OF BIBLE COLEGE FOR YOUTH AND CHURCHS FOR POOR PEOPLE IN SURROUNDING AREAS. THE FUNDS COMING FROM THE PEOPLE ARE NOT SUFFICIENT FOR CONSTRUCTING THE CHRUCHS AND BIBLE COLLEGE FOR YOUTH.PLEASE PRAY AND HELP IN TELLING THIS MATTER TO YOUR NEIGHBORS ARE YOUR REAIATIVES TO HELP US IN ANY WAY.ABOVE MENTIONED OUR PROBLEMS ARE IN VERY NEED TO US.WE ALSO NEED A VAN OR CAR TO CANVERS AND IN MANY WAYS FOR CHRUCHS PURPOSE .ONCE AGAIN PLEASE PRAY PRAY AND HELP FOR MY PROBLEMS.
    Therefore, it is requested to my entire brother and sisters in the name of Jesus may kindly pray AND HELP for me and my services for the poor and remote village people.
    Thanking you
    Yours sincerely in the name of Jesus
    (.Dr.B.J.EMMANUEL Raju)