A Review: "Red Letter Revolution" by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo

"Red Letter Revolution:  What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?" by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo is written as a dialogue between the two authors. They introduce it as a "new movement" of believers who attempt to take seriously the words of Christ and commit to living them out in daily life. Overall, they tackle twenty-six different topics, including hell, Islam, family, racism, homosexuality, immigration, politics, war, national debt, and missions, divided into three separate sections.

There are some good points in the book. Both authors call the church out on handling finances--do we have a balance between what we use for ourselves and what we give away to take care of those in need (both within and without our church)? Both authors call us back to being good stewards of creation, a hearkening back to God's call to Adam in Genesis 1. 

But overall, the book had far more troubling aspects than good ones. I found it to be pretty reductionist and incomplete. For example, evangelism has been reduced to "recruiting agents for God's work in this world" (p. 51). Missions is reduced to simply helping the poor. There is no sense for the real true Gospel in this book. By placing so much emphasis on helping the poor, with that being the end goal of evangelism and missions, you have developed a works-based theology with no discussion of grace. The only aspect of God's character that is ever talked about is love; anger is covered, but really only in regard to the religious people (a barely covered jab at evangelicals).

To me, this book is a piece of liberal propaganda that panders to those who want a Christianity that conforms to the secular culture. It is a call to activism--but an activism that emphasizes works instead of grace, meeting practical needs instead of the true message of the Gospel. Many things in the book may sound good upon first reading them, but as you begin to ponder it, you begin to see the holes in their arguments, especially in light of what the entire Bible says. Could we all stand to take more seriously the words of Christ? Yes. But we enter dangerous territory when we pick and choose only portions of Scripture to take seriously, as these authors are apt to encourage.

This is not a book I can in good conscience recommend to anyone. It's light on theology and heavy on social justice with a few carefully chosen Scriptures thrown in for good measure. I think I'll stick with my Bible--the entire Bible--and a few more doctrinally sound authors.

(I’ve received this complimentary book through the BookLook program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

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