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What are Red Letter Christians?

There’s a movement afoot to seduce evangelical Christians into anti-biblical, socialist, tyrannical politics – the kind currently energizing Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

I know this because I just read a new book by the self-proclaimed “godfather” of the movement – Tony Campolo. Yeah, you remember him as Bill Clinton’s spiritual guru.

The book is a manifesto of sorts called “Red Letter Christians.” Red Letter Christians are those, we learn in Campolo’s book, who heed the words spoken by Jesus and recorded in the New Testament – sometimes in red letters.

I’ll summarize the book for you: Christians have been paying enough attention to issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, homosexual indoctrination in schools, etc. But, says Campolo, they need to start paying attention to what the Bible teaches to do about poverty, the environment, global warming and social injustice. And, in response, we have to empower government through political activism to shoulder our biblical responsibilities.

It’s a stunning treatise – breathtaking in either its naiveté or self-indulgent and willful corruption of clear biblical principles.

I’ve debated Campolo. We’ve exchanged heated correspondence. But this book stands Scripture on its head substituting collective responsibility for personal accountability to God. It presupposes that government is actually good at solving problems. It suggests we need to usher in the kingdom of God on Earth through the power of Big Government.

Let me give you a rundown on what Red Letter Christians believe:

All this, by the way, from someone who describes himself earlier in life as “the kind of political conservative Rush Limbaugh would have loved.” How did Campolo get this way?

This sentence summarizes the answer pretty well: “The significant changes in my thinking began to occur during the ’60s and ’70s, when I moved from the pastorate to academia.” Bingo!

Only the most superficial scriptural references – red or black – are provided to justify Campolo’s predictably leeward stands.

At one point, Campolo makes the statement that “you can only understand the rest of the Bible when you read it from the perspective provided by Christ.” Given that Jesus is, as most Christians believe, the living Word, the God who spoke all of the Bible into the hearts and minds of those who faithfully transcribed its 66 books, this is somewhat disturbing. In other words, Christ’s perspective pervades the entire Bible – not just the red letters. Further, there is nothing in the red letters that is at odds with the rest of the Bible. There is no contradiction between the red letters and the black letters.

The whole sickening, neo-Marxian, materialistic, utopian diatribe left me wondering what work might be left for Jesus when He returns. I even e-mailed Campolo’s publisher with that question and a few others. I’m still awaiting a response that is unlikely to come before the Millennium.

Maybe you can ask Campolo when, inevitably, he or some other so-called Red Letter Christian comes to speak in your church – spreading, not the good news of sacrifice, repentance, forgiveness of sin, personal accountability, spiritual renewal and rebirth, but the bad old news of collectivism, faith in government and moral relativism.

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