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Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said? Hardcover – October 8, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 183 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Shane Claiborne is an activist, author of Jesus for President, coauthor of Common Prayer, and is a founder of The Simple Way, a community in inner-city Philadelphia that has helped birth and connect radical faith communities around the world. 


Tony Campolo (Ph.D., Temple University) is professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University in suburban Philadelphia, a media commentator on religious, social, and political matters, and the author of a dozen books, including Revolution and Renewal, Let me Tell You a Story, and 20 Hot Potatoes Christians Are Afraid to touch.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400204186
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400204182
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (183 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

With tears and laughter, Shane Claiborne unveils the tragic messes we've made of our world and the tangible hope that another world is possible. Shane graduated from Eastern University, and did graduate work at Princeton Seminary. His ministry experience is varied, from a 10-week stint working alongside Mother Teresa in Calcutta, to a year spent serving a wealthy mega-congregation at Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago. During the recent war in Iraq, Shane spent three weeks in Baghdad with the Iraq Peace Team. Shane is also a founding partner of The Simple Way, a faith community in inner city Philadelphia that has helped to birth and connect radical faith communities around the world.

Shane writes and travels extensively speaking about peacemaking, social justice, and Jesus. He is featured in the DVD series "Another World Is Possible" and is the author of the several books including The Irresistible Revolution, Jesus for President, and Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers. Shane speaks over 100 times a year in a dozen or so countries and nearly every state in the US. Shane has given academic seminars at Vanderbilt University, Duke University Pepperdine University, Wheaton College, Princeton University, Goshen College and Harvard University. Shane also speaks at various denominational gatherings, festivals, and conferences around the globe. Shane's work has been featured in everything from Fox News and the Wall Street Journal to CNN and National Public Radio.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is not really a book, as much as it is a transcript of an extended discussion. The authors Claiborne and Campolo reflect on what Christianity might look like, if those who claim to follow Jesus would stop actually following religious or cultural tradition. Instead they discuss what it would look like if the red letters of the bible were followed. In most modern bibles, the red colored letters are the words spoken by Jesus. Thus, the "Red Letter Revolution" is the revolution that would take place if people who call themselves Christians would first and foremost follow the teachings in the red letter sections of the bible. The authors refer to these people as Red Letter Christians.

Fundamentally, I would call myself someone who is attempting to be a Red Letter Christian, and therefore embraced the reading of the book with great expectancy. The book is divided into three main sections: Red Letter Theology, Red Letter Living and Red Letter World. The first section was everything I could have hoped for and more; more, because I was deeply challenged in areas that I did not expect. If I had stopped reading at this point, I would have given the book 5 stars - I really thought it was amazing. The second part of the book was less ideal. The authors would reflect on the way they believed Red Letter Christians should live, and for the most part I strongly agreed with them. The problem was, there was little or no connection between the red letters in the bible and many of the suggestions that were made! I therefore found this section to have insufficient support. No one with a contrary opinion would be swayed, because little or no arguments were made to support their suggestions. The chapters on Environmentalism, Women, Homosexuality, Civil Disobedience and Giving were especially weak.
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Format: Hardcover
The Red Letter Christian movement is something that is starting to gain momentum in the Western Church, so when the opportunity arose to read the manifesto (so to speak) of said movement, I was excited. While I knew going into Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo's "dialogue" that I would have areas of contention, I enjoy reading perspectives that differ from my own. After all, I've been wrong before. Undoubtedly, Claiborne and Campolo did what they do best: in this easy to read conversation; they put on quite a show. Unfortunately, its a show that is riddled with problems in logic, a false sense of openness and historical misinformation.

I realize that sounds harsh, so I want to clarify. I love Shane. I've never met him, and I disagree with his writings frequently, but he loves Jesus (often better than I do). When two people have deep disagreements, but can agree on Christ then the disagreements seem much less important. I don't have to have the same politics as Shane in order for me to see that his heart is fixed on God. He's a guy who truly gets the red letter expression, "love God with all your...body and spirit." Not to mention he shares a passion with me: ecumenical dialogue. Shane understands that Christian includes Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists, Pentecostals, Anglicans and every one else who holds to the orthodoxy of the Church. I can't help but love a fellow brother who loves God's people.

All that being said, I was disappointed in some of the points in Red Letter Revolution. For starters, it doesn't seem to promote much of a revolution. To revolve is to return to a starting point, and this book deviates from much of the early Christians perspectives on issues that face the Church today. What are we getting back to?
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For reference: while I am a Lutheran (sola scriptura, sola fide, etc) I am also a Lutheran (aka Evangelical Catholic, member of a church that upholds an ancient tradition of liturgy, relies upon a book of confessions to help us interpret the Gospel, and whether we admit it or not, leans quite a bit on tradition.) I am also fiscally pretty left-wing, in line with what gets called Catholic social teaching more or less, and have been poor myself. I was brought up to be pacifist and don't like war. In general, I am from Oregon.

Thus, I am sympathetic to many of the same ideas that Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo love best. I like the liturgy, the Jesus prayer and my little wool chotki, not building nuclear bombs, feeding the hungry, being nice to kitty cats. So why do they bother me so very, very much that I could not even finish this book?

The problem, for me, was one of false pretenses. There's a lot of talk of focusing on the "red letters" and "taking what Jesus said seriously." Well and good. However the problem is, it seems like too much of a coincidence that the red letters lead this pair to a very familiar political platform--right down to speculation that Jesus would have joined Occupy--and an arcane and socially trendy set of other preoccupations (environmentalism, bringing pets to worship, putting things on one's head for religious reasons, prayer beads).

Even as a liturgical Christian, the statement on page 40 that one is required, absolutely MUST, participate in liturgy and rituals such as lectio divina to really follow the "red letters" struck me as ridiculous and presumptuous. It is the weak stone around which this entire book and its rewarmed 1970s theology crumbles.
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