1. Joined
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    19 Mar '13 02:243 edits
    Came across the following, found it interesting and would like to invite comments on the contents. The author makes a lot of valid points regarding how far "Evangelical Christianity" has gotten away from the teachings of Jesus.

    In America, over the last decade-and-a-half, Evangelicalism has become married to the Republican Party. To go on university campuses and declare oneself an Evangelical is to immediately have red flags raised by secularists. Once defined as Evangelical, it is assumed that he or she is pro-war, anti-feminist, anti-gay, pro-capital punishment, pro-gun, anti-environmentalism, and certainly part of the Religious Right.

    Many of us made unsuccessful attempts to stave off such categorisations. Eventually, a group of one-time Evangelicals, drawn from the Pentecostal to the Roman Catholic communities, got together to come up with a new name. Henceforth, we said, we are no longer going to call ourselves Evangelicals. We are going to call ourselves Red Letter Christians. Our name refers to the red letters in the Bible. In many editions of the Scriptures, the words of Jesus are highlighted in red letters.

    While holding to the same orthodox theologies as Evangelicals, those of us who call ourselves Red Letter Christians point out that our lifestyles are, as much as possible, those prescribed by the words of Jesus. We recognise that the ethic of Jesus, especially as set forth in the Sermon on the Mount, is a higher ethic than anything we have found in the Hebrew Bible. The call to love our enemies and to overcome evil with good has turned most of us into advocates of non-violent resistance. Certainly, we are not in favour of capital punishment, given that in the red letters we read that Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

    The primary focus of we Red Letter Christians is on what Jesus had to say about the poor. We realise that the only description that He gave of Judgment Day (Matthew 25) was through a parable in which people were evaluated as to whether or not they fed those who were hungry, naked, sick and imprisoned. Many of us take literally the red letters stating that it would be harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. From this we have deduced that a simple lifestyle must be embraced by those who call themselves Christians and that money should no longer be spent on unnecessary luxuries, but should be spent wisely and invested carefully on behalf of those in need. Jesus said that to be one of His disciples we should be ready to sell what we have and give the money to the poor, and we take Him literally.

    It is acknowledged among Red Letter Christians that the ethic of Jesus, if taken at face value, would make His followers into radical, counter-cultural persons who recognise that their American lifestyles have to be abandoned. We recognise that our lifestyles have been largely responsible for depleting the non-renewable resources of the planet, including the oceans and the air, and exploiting underpaid workers in Third World countries to produce bargains for our American consumption, and for this we must repent.

    Red Letter Christians recognise that not only must we be involved on the micro level, living out the teachings of Jesus, but that we also must be intensely politically involved. But we are quick to declare that Jesus is neither Democrat nor Republican, and advocate that Red Letter Christians should invade both political parties to be “the leaven” transforming those parties in accord with the teachings of Jesus.

    There have been many who have been critical of this new movement. Some have said that we hold the red letters of the Bible as being superior to the black letters, and that we have propagated the “simple lifestyle” as though it is biblically prescribed. Our response is, “You’ve got us right!”

    Not only do we believe that the teachings of Jesus are superior to anything else in the Bible, but that Jesus Himself said that His words were superior to what we read in the black letters. In the Sermon on the Mount, He declared repeatedly that the teachings of old have been replaced by new ones. For instance, the Hebrew Bible had been interpreted to say that when dealing with offenses the guiding principle should be “an eye for an eye” and “a tooth for a tooth”. But Jesus said that we are to overcome evil with good. While the Law of Moses stated that we should not commit adultery, Jesus raised the standard by saying that to be engaged in lustful behaviour (i.e., getting into pornography, engaging in sexually degrading conversations, viewing members of the opposite sex as “things” to be exploited) is to be judged as seriously as adultery. In referring to the law in the Torah that forbade murder, Jesus raised the ante when He declared that treating another person in such a way as to destroy the dignity and to diminish the humanity of that person should be regarded as though murder had been committed.

    Furthermore, we believe that the black letters of the Bible cannot be understood unless we first come to grips with Jesus. Unless we understand who Jesus is and what He did through His life, death and resurrection, the rest of the Scriptures won’t really make much sense. Can we really understand the 53rd chapter of Isaiah or the 22nd Psalm without knowing about Jesus? Is there any way of understanding the allusions to Jesus that are found all through the writings of the prophets unless we understand what was revealed through Christ’s words and deeds?

    Because Evangelicals have been steeped in the theology of the Pauline Epistles before they scrutinise the teachings of Jesus in the red letters of the Bible, they have read Jesus through the eyes of Paul. Red Letter Christians do just the opposite—we read Paul through the eyes of Jesus. There is no contradiction between these two perspectives, but there is a difference in emphasis. If we get into the red letters first, we will be committed to a new lifestyle even before we grapple with the sophisticated theological concepts set forth in Pauline teachings. Commitment to Christ and following His teachings becomes primary.

    Rather than a new legalism, we Red Letter Christians are preaching a call to obedience to the radical teachings of Christ. We are not about to water down the red letters in the Bible in order to create an ethical lifestyle compatible with upper-middle class affluence. We believe that Jesus made perfectly clear what He expects of His disciples.

    Across America, and even in other countries, there is a new church emerging that embraces the Red Letter Christian lifestyle. There is a new generation that no long ascribes to the “easy believism” that reduced Christianity to a mere affirmation of theological propositions. This new generation of Christians calls for obedience to the obvious teachings of Christ concerning wealth and power and what should be done for the poor and oppressed, and we are committed to live out His teachings.

    http://www.christiantoday.com/article/red.letter.christianity.a.new.name.for.progressive.evangelicals/22438.htm
  2. Standard memberRemoved
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    19 Mar '13 18:19
    Originally posted by ThinkOfOne
    Came across the following, found it interesting and would like to invite comments on the contents. The author makes a lot of valid points regarding how far "Evangelical Christianity" has gotten away from the teachings of Jesus.

    In America, over the last decade-and-a-half, Evangelicalism has become married to the Republican Party. To go on unive ...[text shortened]... m/article/red.letter.christianity.a.new.name.for.progressive.evangelicals/22438.htm
    Interesting that they hold the red lettered words in such high esteem.
    However Psalm 138:2 God says he "magnified" his word above his name.
    He thinks very highly of the entire word, not just the red lettered words which were inserted by man. The color , that is...
    Jesus is the subject of the bible from Genesis to Revelations, but to hold to just what Jesus said is wrong, since things changed after his Resurrection.
    In the time of Jesus, the people were still under Law, now they are under Grace.
    The words spoken by Paul, Peter, etc., come from God and Christ both, so it is confusing to say the least what their point is.
  3. Joined
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    19 Mar '13 19:372 edits
    Originally posted by checkbaiter
    Interesting that they hold the red lettered words in such high esteem.
    However Psalm 138:2 God says he "magnified" his word above his name.
    He thinks very highly of the entire word, not just the red lettered words which were inserted by man. The color , that is...
    Jesus is the subject of the bible from Genesis to Revelations, but to hold to just what ...[text shortened]... etc., come from God and Christ both, so it is confusing to say the least what their point is.
    This was largely addressed by the author as follows (make special note of the parts in bold)

    There have been many who have been critical of this new movement. Some have said that we hold the red letters of the Bible as being superior to the black letters, and that we have propagated the “simple lifestyle” as though it is biblically prescribed. Our response is, “You’ve got us right!”

    Not only do we believe that the teachings of Jesus are superior to anything else in the Bible, but that Jesus Himself said that His words were superior to what we read in the black letters. In the Sermon on the Mount, He declared repeatedly that the teachings of old have been replaced by new ones. For instance, the Hebrew Bible had been interpreted to say that when dealing with offenses the guiding principle should be “an eye for an eye” and “a tooth for a tooth”. But Jesus said that we are to overcome evil with good. While the Law of Moses stated that we should not commit adultery, Jesus raised the standard by saying that to be engaged in lustful behaviour (i.e., getting into pornography, engaging in sexually degrading conversations, viewing members of the opposite sex as “things” to be exploited) is to be judged as seriously as adultery. In referring to the law in the Torah that forbade murder, Jesus raised the ante when He declared that treating another person in such a way as to destroy the dignity and to diminish the humanity of that person should be regarded as though murder had been committed.

    Because Evangelicals have been steeped in the theology of the Pauline Epistles before they scrutinise the teachings of Jesus in the red letters of the Bible, they have read Jesus through the eyes of Paul. Red Letter Christians do just the opposite—we read Paul through the eyes of Jesus. There is no contradiction between these two perspectives, but there is a difference in emphasis. If we get into the red letters first, we will be committed to a new lifestyle even before we grapple with the sophisticated theological concepts set forth in Pauline teachings. Commitment to Christ and following His teachings becomes primary.

    Rather than a new legalism, we Red Letter Christians are preaching a call to obedience to the radical teachings of Christ. We are not about to water down the red letters in the Bible in order to create an ethical lifestyle compatible with upper-middle class affluence. We believe that Jesus made perfectly clear what He expects of His disciples.


    The words spoken by Paul, Peter, etc., come from God and Christ both, so it is confusing to say the least what their point is.

    Jesus repeatedly exhorted His followers to adhere to HIS words (the words He spoke while He walked the Earth). He did not tell them to follow the words of the OT or the NT authors.
  4. Joined
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    19 Mar '13 21:25
    Originally posted by ThinkOfOne
    Came across the following, found it interesting and would like to invite comments on the contents. The author makes a lot of valid points regarding how far "Evangelical Christianity" has gotten away from the teachings of Jesus.

    In America, over the last decade-and-a-half, Evangelicalism has become married to the Republican Party. To go on unive ...[text shortened]... m/article/red.letter.christianity.a.new.name.for.progressive.evangelicals/22438.htm
    As I read this, the authors are suggesting that many readers of the Bible have the wrong perspective. They use the black letters to try and understand the red letters, whereas we should use the red letters to try and understand the black letters.

    This implies to me that they nonetheless consider the whole of the Bible has an internal integrity providing we adopt this latter perspective.

    The question they do not seem to address is whether, in fact, the OT, being inconsistent with Jesus's words, should not in fact be regarded as the word of God at all. And whether they should, rather, simply carry around a Bible made of the red letters and throw the rest away.
  5. Joined
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    19 Mar '13 22:502 edits
    Originally posted by Rank outsider
    As I read this, the authors are suggesting that many readers of the Bible have the wrong perspective. They use the black letters to try and understand the red letters, whereas we should use the red letters to try and understand the black letters.

    This implies to me that they nonetheless consider the whole of the Bible has an internal integrity prov ey should, rather, simply carry around a Bible made of the red letters and throw the rest away.
    As I read this, the authors are suggesting that many readers of the Bible have the wrong perspective. They use the black letters to try and understand the red letters, whereas we should use the red letters to try and understand the black letters.

    Agreed.

    This implies to me that they nonetheless consider the whole of the Bible has an internal integrity providing we adopt this latter perspective.

    Depends on what you mean by 'internal integrity'.

    The question they do not seem to address is whether, in fact, the OT, being inconsistent with Jesus's words, should not in fact be regarded as the word of God at all.

    From what I gather, it's more that Jesus' teaching supercede the OT.

    And whether they should, rather, simply carry around a Bible made of the red letters and throw the rest away.

    The author seemed pretty clear that he wasn't advocating that.

    What's interesting is that have drawn conclusions about many issues that are polar opposite simply by emphasizing the words of Jesus rather than the words of Paul. What's interesting to consider is that the traditional 'Evangelical Christians' call Jesus 'Lord', yet place the words of Paul above the words of Jesus. From what I gather, some attempt to reconcile this by saying that ALL the words of the Bible ARE the words of Jesus, but this seems disingenuous at best. Jesus made no such declaration.
  6. Joined
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    19 Mar '13 23:43
    Originally posted by ThinkOfOne
    Came across the following, found it interesting and would like to invite comments on the contents. The author makes a lot of valid points regarding how far "Evangelical Christianity" has gotten away from the teachings of Jesus.

    In America, over the last decade-and-a-half, Evangelicalism has become married to the Republican Party. To go on unive ...[text shortened]... m/article/red.letter.christianity.a.new.name.for.progressive.evangelicals/22438.htm
    I didn't see anything about how it was decided which letters should be red, who decided this, were these persons or this person divinely inspired, etc.

    I don't think it is covered here:

    http://www.biblecollectors.org/articles/red_letter_bible.htm
  7. Joined
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    19 Mar '13 23:51
    Originally posted by JS357
    I didn't see anything about how it was decided which letters should be red, who decided this, were these persons or this person divinely inspired, etc.

    I don't think it is covered here:

    http://www.biblecollectors.org/articles/red_letter_bible.htm
    "Red letter edition Bibles are those in which words spoken by Jesus, commonly only while he was on the Earth, are printed in red ink."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_letter_edition
  8. Joined
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    20 Mar '13 17:18
    Originally posted by ThinkOfOne
    "Red letter edition Bibles are those in which words spoken by Jesus, commonly only while he was on the Earth, are printed in red ink."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_letter_edition
    I know that but it doesn't answer who decided which words were spoken by Jesus. I guess if the Bible says Jesus said it, or it's obvious from the context, the red letter folks believe that. But different gospels quote him differently, don't they?
  9. Joined
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    20 Mar '13 17:343 edits
    Originally posted by JS357
    I know that but it doesn't answer who decided which words were spoken by Jesus. I guess if the Bible says Jesus said it, or it's obvious from the context, the red letter folks believe that. But different gospels quote him differently, don't they?
    For the most part it's pretty easy to discern what text was meant as a direct quotation and what text wasn't. The red letter editions weren't breaking new ground in this regard. From what I gather it would have been a simple matter of using red ink for already established quotes of Jesus.

    It's not like Red Letter Christians wrote a new Bible or anything. Red letter editions of the Bible had been around for decades before the name "Red Letter Christians" was adopted. The following explains the origin of the name and what they are about.
    The goal of Red Letter Christians is simple: To take Jesus seriously by endeavoring to live out His radical, counter-cultural teachings as set forth in Scripture, and especially embracing the lifestyle prescribed in the Sermon on the Mount.

    Ironically, it was a secular Jewish country-and-western disc jockey in Nashville, Tennessee who first suggested that title. During a radio interview with my friend Jim Wallis, that deejay declared, “You’re one of those Red-Letter Christians – you know, the ones who are really into all those New Testament verses that are in red letters!” When Jim said, “That’s right!” he answered for all of us. By calling ourselves Red Letter Christians, we refer to the fact that in many Bibles the words of Jesus are printed in red. What we are asserting, therefore, is that we have committed ourselves first and foremost to doing what Jesus said.

    The message of those red-lettered Bible verses is radical, to say the least. If you don’t believe me, just take a few minutes to read Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). In it, Jesus calls us away from the consumerist values that dominate contemporary America. Instead, he calls us to meet the needs of the poor. He also calls us to be merciful, which has strong implications in terms of war and capital punishment. After all, when Jesus tells us to love our enemies, he probably means we shouldn’t kill them.

    Gandhi once said that everybody in the world knows what Jesus teaches in those red lettered verses — except Christians. Today, lots of people share that same kind of disappointment with the American church. We want to change that. Applying the teachings of Jesus to our lives in such complicated times is difficult, but that is what Red Letter Christians is all about.


    http://www.redletterchristians.org/start/
  10. Joined
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    21 Mar '13 00:38
    Originally posted by ThinkOfOne
    For the most part it's pretty easy to discern what text was meant as a direct quotation and what text wasn't. The red letter editions weren't breaking new ground in this regard. From what I gather it would have been a simple matter of using red ink for already established quotes of Jesus.

    It's not like Red Letter Christians wrote a new Bible or anythi ...[text shortened]... Letter Christians is all about.


    http://www.redletterchristians.org/start/
    [/quote]
    OK thanks.
  11. Joined
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    28 Mar '13 13:1812 edits
    Originally posted by ThinkOfOne
    As I read this, the authors are suggesting that many readers of the Bible have the wrong perspective. They use the black letters to try and understand the red letters, whereas we should use the red letters to try and understand the black letters.

    Agreed.

    This implies to me that they nonetheless consider the whole of the Bible has an inter words of Jesus, but this seems disingenuous at best. Jesus made no such declaration.
    Depends on what you mean by 'internal integrity'.

    Not the best choice of words. 'Consistency' would have been better than 'integrity'.

    From what I gather, it's more that Jesus' teaching supercede the OT.

    Depends what you mean by supersede.

    The writers are trying to make the case that Jesus' teachings are superior to the OT. However, they do not seem, in most cases, to be suggesting that there is any contradiction to them. They see the red letters as enhancing/extending/clarifying etc what is in the black letters.

    So the Mosaic Law prohibition against adultery is 'superseded' by a much broader concept of sexual morality. However, this is seen in terms of an improvement on the previous prohibition. It is not seen to 'supersede' it in the sense of replacing something which is now obsolete or previously incorrect.

    This is OK until you get to the death penalty. Most people of faith believe that the 'word of God' is timeless and unchanging (i.e. God doesn't make mistakes and change his mind). If Jesus was clearly against the death penalty, then the problem I have is how can you reconcile this with the instructions of God in the OT to execute people for a whole variety of (sometimes trivial) offences. I think the authors rather duck this question.

    Put another way, how can the red letters' view that the death penalty is unacceptable help us to 'understand' the black letters' view that the death penalty is not only acceptable, but once necessary to comply with the word of God.

    The author seemed pretty clear that he wasn't advocating that.

    Agreed.
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    28 Mar '13 13:44
    Originally posted by ThinkOfOne
    This was largely addressed by the author as follows (make special note of the parts in bold)

    [quote]There have been many who have been critical of this new movement. Some have said that we hold the red letters of the Bible as being superior to the black letters, and that we have propagated the “simple lifestyle” as though it is biblically prescribed. O ...[text shortened]... hile He walked the Earth). He did not tell them to follow the words of the OT or the NT authors.
    Jesus repeatedly exhorted His followers to adhere to HIS words (the words He spoke while He walked the Earth). He did not tell them to follow the words of the OT or the NT authors.
    Agreed, but he also said he only spoke what the father told him to speak. We only have the gospels because Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were given revelation as to what to write, but in their own words. The same goes for Paul, Peter, James,.etc.
    So it does not make a lot of sense to esteem one over another, since all the words come from God.
    Yes, Jesus did make some changes, but even those changes came from the authority of his father. He also stated that he came to declare God in the beginning of John's gospel. In the OT God was blamed for good and evil, Jesus cleared that up when he said the thief comes to kill and destroy.
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    28 Mar '13 18:48
    Originally posted by checkbaiter
    [b]Jesus repeatedly exhorted His followers to adhere to HIS words (the words He spoke while He walked the Earth). He did not tell them to follow the words of the OT or the NT authors.
    Agreed, but he also said he only spoke what the father told him to speak. We only have the gospels because Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were given revelation as to wha ...[text shortened]... amed for good and evil, Jesus cleared that up when he said the thief comes to kill and destroy.[/b]
    Agreed, but he also said he only spoke what the father told him to speak.

    Wouldn't phrase it that way, but Jesus did say that that His words and the father's words are one in the same.

    We only have the gospels because Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were given revelation as to what to write, but in their own words. The same goes for Paul, Peter, James,.etc.[So it does not make a lot of sense to esteem one over another, since all the words come from God.

    As I said:
    Jesus repeatedly exhorted His followers to adhere to HIS words (the words He spoke while He walked the Earth). He did not tell them to follow the words of the OT or the NT authors.


    Your beliefs are not based upon the words that Jesus spoke while He walked the Earth. They are not based upon the words that Jesus repeatedly exhorted His followers to adhere to. As such it makes perfect sense to esteem those words above other words.
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    28 Mar '13 20:38
    Originally posted by ThinkOfOne
    [b]Agreed, but he also said he only spoke what the father told him to speak.

    Wouldn't phrase it that way, but Jesus did say that that His words and the father's words are one in the same.

    We only have the gospels because Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were given revelation as to what to write, but in their own words. The same goes for Paul, Pet ...[text shortened]... ollowers to adhere to. As such it makes perfect sense to esteem those words above other words.
    How about if I phrase it this way...


    John 14:10
    The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority;
    NKJV

    John 17:8
    For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.
    NKJV

    John 7:17-18
    If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him
    NIV

    John 8:28-29
    "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him."
    NIV

    John 12:49-50
    For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say."
    NIV
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    28 Mar '13 21:163 edits
    Originally posted by checkbaiter
    How about if I phrase it this way...


    John 14:10
    The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority;
    NKJV

    John 17:8
    For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.
    NKJV

    John 7:17-18
    If anyone leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say."
    NIV
    While John 12:49 seems to speak in your favor (though there is a certain ambiguity if you look at other translations) regarding the minor first point of my post, the others seem to be speaking more in my favor. Given that, I still don't know that I'd phrase it the way you did.

    Of course, they don't at all address the rest of the points of my post. But then, that seems to be the way with you. You choose to ignore the light of truth when it is shined upon beliefs you hold that don't hold up under scrutiny.

    BTW, when your post ends up being all BOLD like that, you can fix it by placing an extra [ /b ] (without the spaces) at the beginning of your post.
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