I am currently attending the evening service at St. John’s York Mills Anglican Church in Toronto… I know, long name but it’s worth it. This evening, we were discussing a few things… or actually, one of my “revelations” came before the discussion even started. (The evening service is termed “The Gathering”, and is a bit more interactive than your standard, everyday church service.) Anyway, Allison (one of the worship leaders) was mentioning the concept of a “Red-Letter” Bible, and speaking about something she had learned from it. Now I have certainly heard of a “Red-Letter” Bible before, and I have one: it highlights the words of Jesus in a different colour (red) to make them stand out. I’ve always thought: yeah, but the words of Jesus aren’t really any more important than the whole Bible. I mean, it’s all God-inspired, isn’t it? It’s got to be taken as one unit. The whole thing has to be taken in context, understanding different parts as necessary. By highlighting some you’re making a false dichotomy between words that were-
And then I realized I was drifting, miles away (should I say klicks away, now I’m back in Canada?) from what Allison was saying. I actively tuned back in.
She was talking about all the material in the Bible being a bit overwhelming, and the Red Letters help her to focus on just what Jesus said. Those are often more applicable to her daily life, as they were applied to the disciples, than the broad swath of theology available in both Testaments. In fact, we’ve said for a long time that the Old Testament needs to be interpreted in the light of the New: another way of looking at this is that the black letters should be interpreted in the light of the red. She described how the Red Letters helped her to focus past the “noise” of all that is going on in the Bible to the specifics of what Jesus taught. And I realized I had the same problem. But my “noise” is in my head… and blocks out revolutionary ideas.
Ahem… like this one:
In talking about this, Allison had mentioned that Tony Campolo was now ascribing to something called “Red Letter Christians”, and although I know I’ve heard the term before, this was the first time I actually looked it up. (I guess I’d figured that I was a Red and Black Letter Christian, and I didn’t need to reduce what I was studying. Is that what they call arrogance?) So I looked it up when I got home. And the concept turns out to be quite sound (as I should have expected; I am familiar with Mr. Campolo). In fact, it’s one of the few attempts to bridge toward a theology I can be comfortable with since my divorce. Tony has written “A Guide to Faith and Politics” which looks quite interesting. He also writes an overview in The Huffington Post. Mr. Campolo’s blog goes by the same name: Red Letter Christians.
I think I am impressed.