Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo Start a Red Letter Revolution

A Risky and Controversial Pursuit of Truth and Image Change

Oct 10, 2012, 07:39 ET from Thomas Nelson

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Oct. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Renowned speakers and best-selling authors Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo aren't afraid to talk openly and candidly about Jesus' teachings in Scripture and how they give Christians a road map for living out their faith in a fractured world. In their new book Red Letter Revolution, which releases this week from Thomas Nelson, Inc., they're calling the public to re-imagine the world and the way we live—the old patterns of politics, economics, and religion that aren't working—and urging them to embrace a new kind of Christianity. And it's their hope that those outside of the church, who may have been hurt by or suspicious of the faith, will witness truths that the human frailty and imperfections of Christians often contradict.

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"There are a lot of monologues going on in the world and not a lot of dialogues," notes Claiborne.

Written in a compelling, thought-provoking manner for conservatives and progressives, skeptics and believers, Red Letter Revolution addresses many of the difficult issues facing our world today including human sexuality, capital punishment, immigration, and even the Middle East. The authors show that Jesus' example is relevant and revolutionary and calls people back to a Christianity that looks like Him again. In this ambitious project, they mine the words of Jesus—the "red letters" of Scripture—asking the simple question, "What if we lived out what He said?"

Red Letter Revolution undertakes the world-shaping mission of understanding how Jesus' words could change everything—if people would only give them a chance. From the power in Washington, to the poverty in rural towns, to the broken systems everywhere else, the world is looking for salvation. But this salvation is not just for people's souls—it's for schools, governments, churches, and families.

"I hope that readers take away an awareness that what Jesus had to say 2,000 years ago is radical and absolutely necessary if Christianity is to survive into the 21st century," says Campolo. But he also warns that "if we follow Jesus and do what He says, we will be counter-cultural and radicalized."

"Starting in 1899, Bibles have been published that highlight the words of Jesus in red. We adopted the name Red Letter Christians not only to differentiate ourselves from the political social values generally associated with evangelicals but also to emphasize that we are Christians who take the radical teachings of Jesus seriously and are committed to living them out in our everyday lives," Campolo adds.

As Claiborne puts it, "Karl Barth once said that we've got to read the Bible in one hand and we've got to read the newspaper in the other. This whole project has been about not seeing our faith as a ticket into heaven and an excuse to ignore the world around us, but the exact opposite. That Christian faith and love for Jesus has everything to do with how we engage the world that we live in, how we think of economics, militarism, poverty and immigration and all the stuff that folks are talking about. These were the things that Jesus talked about. The parables are about unjust judges and day labors and the lilies and the sparrows, the earth. So these things matter to God and they matter to us as Christians."

To summarize the book in a word, Campolo says it is 'risky.' "We took a lot of risks in saying things we felt really needed to be said. In fact, there are statements I think most Christian preachers would like to make if they thought they could get away with it."

Claiborne shares that they also uncover some of the biggest things plaguing our culture, "One of the challenges we have is the concept that where everything is Christian, nothing is Christian. By that I mean that we live in a Christianized civilization wherein God-talk is heard everywhere, but with little attention given to what we're actually saying or what's implied in what we're saying. So when our money says, "In God we trust," that's quintessentially taking the Lord's name in vain when it is used to buy heroin, guns, bombs, pornography, etc. It would be better if it said, "In God sometimes we trust" or "In God we hope to trust." But then, when God-talk is used thoughtlessly and carelessly, it inoculates us. It's like getting a small dose of something that's real, but not getting hit with the full force of it—you're immune to the real thing. No one wants Christianity because of the little bit they've experienced."

Ultimately, Claiborne and Campolo agree that in the world where there are numerous segmentations—republicans and democrats, old and young, Catholics and Protestants, believers and unbelievers, and so forth—honest conversations are necessary to bridge the divisions across all generations and groups to reflect on where we've been and where we see ourselves headed.

To join the conversation or for more on the Red Letter movement, visit and

Shane Claiborne is a best-selling author, Christian activist, speaker, and recovering sinner. Shane writes and speaks extensively about peacemaking, social justice, and Jesus and is the author of several books including The Irresistible Revolution and Jesus for President. Each year, he speaks in a dozen countries and nearly every state in the United States. His work has been covered by the likes of Fox News, Wall Street Journal, CNN, and NPR. For more information about Shane, visit:

Tony Campolo is professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University, a best-selling author, a former faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania, and the founder and president of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education. Tony speaks about 350 times a year in the United States and around the globe. He has been a media commentator for a wide variety of outlets, has written more than thirty-five books, and blogs regularly at A few of his popular books include It's Friday but Sunday's Comin, Let Me Tell You a Story, and Following Jesus Without Embarrassing God. For more information visit

Thomas Nelson, Inc., part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, is a world leading provider of Christian content and has been providing readers with quality inspirational product for more than 200 years. The publishing group provides multiple formats of award-winning Bibles, books, cookbooks, curriculum and digital content, with distribution of its products in more than 100 countries. Thomas Nelson, is headquartered in Nashville, TN with additional offices in Plano, TX. For additional information, please visit


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