Well known Christian author and speaker, Tony Campolo has coined the term “Red Letter Christians” as a new description for progressive Evangelicals. Like Tony, I too am fed up with the term Evangelical being synonymous with right-wing, pro-war, anti-gay, anti-feminist, pro-gun politics . It is sad to see that progresive orthodox Christians have to resort to a new descriptor in order to show that our faith can stand for a progressive inclusive ethic. I guess from time we all think “Lord save us from your followers!”
The term Red Letter Christians comes from a renewed focus on the words of Jesus in the Bible (often marked out in red)- a focus on the poor, the socially excluded, the prisoners, the homeless, the widow and the orphan. Tony argues that if we take these words and the ethic of Jesus at face value and let it drive our Christian agenda then we really can transform society. It calls for us to stand up and be counted, get politically involved and transform society to better reflect the teachings of Jesus. Jesus made a difference everywhere he went and yet so often we are but a pale imitation of what he said and did.
I recall an old socialist anthem called the Red Flag but however loudly it was sung it never really did fly here in UK or make much difference: a great rallying cry but short on delivery- in fact it was replaced by “Things can only get better” (but they didn’t -it really was a D-REAM). Maybe it’s time to run a Christian red flag up the pole and give it the best salute we can manage as a broken, authentic unfinished church.
There is a well-known phrase “Paint the town red”- which means to go out, enjoy yourself and make it show in your community- to literally tranform the town with a new colour. Let’s hope that Red Letter Christians go out and do just that in their communities and make people feel included and not exluded. Let’s pray that no-one waters down their redness on the way!
A good account of Tony’s thinking on this can be found at http://www.christiantoday.com/article/red.letter.christianity.a.new.name.for.progressive.evangelicals/22438.htm