Definitions

mark with red letter

Red-Letter Christian

Red-Letter Christians believe that Evangelicalism has been exploited by both right-wing and left-wing political movements, and they endeavor to create an Evangelical movement that focuses on the teachings of Jesus Christ, particularly in regard to social issues. "Red-Letter" refers to New Testament verses printed in red letters to emphasize the actual words that Jesus spoke without the use of quotations (see Red letter edition). While many Christians have defined themselves as such over the years, a mass-market movement was initiated by authors Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis who felt the religious right spend too much time on two issues: abortion and homosexuality. They believe Christians should be promoting biblical values such as peace, building strong families, the elimination of poverty, and other important social justice issues.

The social issues valued by Red-Letter Christians include taking care of the poor, spreading the Gospel (see also the Great Commission), and loving one's enemies. They believe that these are the issues that Jesus spoke of directly, and therefore these issues should be political priorities. Other issues such as homosexual rights, abortion, and war are viewed as important but over-emphasized by both liberals and conservatives.

On the reason for creating Red-Letter Christians, Tony Campolo said, "The purpose of this gathering was not to create a religious left movement to challenge the religious right, but to jump-start a religious movement that will transcend partisan politics.. Campolo has released a book to help explain this, called Red Letter Christians, A Citizen's Guide to Faith and Politics (Regal Books, February 2008).

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