Red Letter Christian

February 9, 2018

A “Red Letter Christian” Revival?

Repeatedly challenging Jerry Falwell Jr. to a public debate proved unsuccessful for Evangelical Left activists Shane Claiborne over the past year. But Falwell’s disinterest won’t stop the co-founder of the “Red Letter Christian” group from organizing a “revival” in Falwell’s backyard.

Falwell is an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump and the president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, the largest Christian university in the world. You can read IRD President Mark Tooley’s full examination of the contention between Claiborne and Falwell here. But essentially Falwell’s unabashed defense of the president and his policies have led to Claiborne’s criticisms and his recent question:

As you can see, the vast majority of the near 2,000 Twitterverse respondents claim they will participate in a “Red Letter Revival” gathering in Lynchburg. Thus, Claiborne says it’s happening:

When asked via Twitter what Claiborne hoped his Lynchburg revival would accomplish, he replied:

According to Red Letter Christian’s press release, speakers will include Religious Left fixture Tony Campolo and former Sojourners-affiliated activist and author Lisa Sharon Harper, among others.

I’m unconvinced this revival will be anything more than a politically-charged demonstration against Falwell and what’s been called “Trumpvangelicalism” by the Religious Left. The irony to me is that in demonstrating against Falwell’s pro-Republican devotion, Claiborne and his supporters could use the event to advance their own commitment to social causes on the political Left. I also wonder how many participants will actually be Lynchburg natives and Liberty University students. Because if the demonstration is largely comprised of the usual Religious Left company from outside of Lynchburg, is it really a community revival?

I could be wrong. Claiborne’s Lynchburg revival could be a good old-fashioned crusade filled with alter calls and testimonies of forgiveness and finding salvation through Jesus Christ and less of a call to liberal political social action. Either way, I plan to attend and see for myself.


13 Responses to A “Red Letter Christian” Revival?

  1. Patrick98 says:

    Chelsen, please let us know about the event by doing a follow-up story on it after you attend. I appreciate you.

  2. Josh says:

    Eh, I don’t think Shane runs with the crowd you think he does. I’m sure that he socializes with a wide array of people across the political, social, and racial spectrum, you know, like Jesus did. But he’s really passionate about being a disciple of Jesus. I don’t think that he worships at the altar of any political ideology. Yeah . . . you might ought to check him out personally before you make any judgments.

  3. Jason says:

    I always found it ironic that the “Red Letter Christians” are so in favor of pushing gay marriage, etc. and ignore that Jesus’ teachings on marriage only said one man and one woman. Nothing else.

    So if they truly were “red letter Christians” then they couldn’t support gay marriage because that’s not what Jesus described as marriage.

    But I guess the whole of Jesus’ teaching isn’t the focus of “red letter Christians”, right? 😉

    • Jacob says:

      Hey Jason, I’m a liberal person who reads this blog to try and understand what another side thinks. While many in the “Red Letter” organization are LGBT affirming, Shane Claiborne is not. At the end of the day, his theology is basically conservative evangelical, while also taking Christ’s social teaching seriously. He would be a little too far to the right for most mainline groups. Thanks, have a good day!

    • al says:

      I agree, Jason. Claiborne is also very political. Look at the tweets.

      • Josh says:

        The IRD is very political – so . . .

        • Steven Vornov says:

          Tu quo que is an illogical argument. “Red Letter Christianity” is warmed over Marcionism for the diminishing religious left.

          • Steven Vornov says:

            That’s “tu quoque.” In other words, we all know Jerry Falwell is a right winger and supports Donald Trump. Shane Claiborne is merely the other side of a debased coin.

          • Josh says:

            That is not an accurate description o “Red Letter Christianity.” That title was first brought up several years at the end of the Bush presidency when a lot of devoted Christians noted that the “culture wars” were taking precedence over being a disciples of Jesus (“Great Commission”).

            Many people went different ways during that time, emergent, emerging, post-modern Christianity, ancient-future faith, etc. Some went off the deep end. Some have invested well since those days.

            Just from a historical perspective, it is wrong to call “Red Letter Christianity” warmed over Marcionism for the diminishing religious left. Many people felt that the actual teaching of Jesus was not being focused on and sought to be obeyed in evangelical/conservative circles. Folks were more loyal to their political party than to Jesus. It’s still going on right now.

  4. Penny says:

    I look forward to your follow-up report. Thank you for keeping us informed.

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