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Red Letter Christianity
Living The Words Of Jesus No Matter The Cost
by Shane Claibourne & Tony Campolo
The title refers to the fact that some of the early counter-cultural evangelicals such as Tony Campolo, one of the authors of this book, called themselves ‘red letter Christians’ based on the words of Christ being printed in red in many bibles, thus highlighting the radical words and actions of Christ that they were founding their lives and faith on.
This book is a discussion between one of these founding red letter Christians and one of the leading names in the new breed of red letter Christians - Shane Claibourne.
As Campolo says in the introduction, though the theology they share is fundamentally the same, the way in which the newer generation and the older generation do it is really quite different and this book is a way of looking at these differences, of weighing and considering them and seeing where they differ, how they differ and why they differ.
It addresses, in the form of a discussion between the two, issues divided under three 'red letter' headings, namely Theology, Living and World. In theology we hear them talk about issues such as history, community, liturgy, Islam, economics etc. In living they address pro-life, environmentalism, homosexuality, immigration and giving amongst others, and finally in World they look at politics, national debt, middle east, mission and resurrection to name a few.
Through the discussions you get a real feel for the authors, their personalities, outlooks and opinions. It’s a very clever move to have two different fonts so that you know easily who's speaking and in a way you can more easily hear their 'voice' and keep track of where you are in the discussion between the two.
It is a fantastic book to read as it covers a plethora of subjects, but not only that it is almost like a first primer of red letter Christianity - what it is and how you do it, what underpins it and what structures and insights it has to give. Not a catechism but nonetheless a strong guide to understanding how to go about 'living the words of Jesus no matter the cost' from the viewpoint of two articulate and respected proponents of the movement.
It would be great to use this in a group setting, using each chapter as an opening for discussion and debate - I think they would be incredibly lively group sessions indeed!
Reviewer: Melanie Carroll (29/10/12)