The Left Claims the Red Letters — but How About What’s Black and White?

By Rob Schwarzwalder Published on May 27, 2018

Many of us grew up with Bibles in which the words of Jesus are shown in red ink.

This practice is well intended. It’s designed to show special reverence for the words of the Savior.

However, printing Jesus’s words in red is misleading. Not intentionally. But still misleading.

Inspired by God

Here’s why: The entire Bible was inspired by God. Historically, Christians have believed that from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22, the very words of the 66 books of the Old and New Testament were “breathed-out” by God.

This doesn’t mean the men who wrote those books were robots. Their different writing styles, word choices, and grammar show God used thinking human beings. Men with various life experiences, cultures, and educations.

The apostle Peter explained it this way: “No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:20-21).

The word translated “carried along” is also used by Paul’s friend Luke (Acts 27:15-17) for a ship that’s being blown by the wind. Theologian Ron Rhodes comments that “just as the sailors were active on the ship (though the wind, not the sailors, ultimately controlled the ship’s movement), so also were the human authors active in writing as the Spirit directed” (Christianity According to the Bible, pages 26-27).

Equally Authoritative

So, all of the Bible was equally inspired by God. This is what the Bible says of itself (see, for example, II Timothy 3:16). Jesus is God, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Conclusion: Every word of Scripture has been breathed into human minds and pens by God. This means every word, verse and passage is equally authoritative.

And that means that the “red letter” verses have no more or less weight than Amos 4 or Hebrews 7.

This truth is lost on the Evangelicals who recently descended on Lynchburg, Virginia to challenge the politics of Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr.

Red Letter Christians

The “Red Letter Christians” are affirming something which any coherent reading of the Bible cannot countenance. They claim the words of Jesus take precedence over every other part of the Bible.

Really? How about the words of God given to Moses, Abraham, the prophets, the apostles, and so many others? Is Jesus superior to the Father or the Spirit? 

And how can anyone assert that the author of the book itself — the Triune God of the universe — is less an authority than the member of the Godhead Who became a man?

Aside from the illogic, there is a deep theological motive for this peculiar, “red letter” reading of Scripture. Distorting the words of Jesus for political reasons gives one’s political agenda the hue of authority. And pulling His words out of context or misinterpreting them deliberately can lead to a semi-Marxist, semi-socialist, and very pacifistic message.

Just what the “Red Letter Christians” want.

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Interestingly, these professing Evangelicals have other beliefs that don’t line up with the Bible. They claim that Christian opposition to same-sex marriage and homosexual conduct is wrong. “The evangelical anxiety about inclusion and affirmation relates to our struggle with empire and the changes that threaten our privileged place in it,” according to Red Letter executive director Dan Golden.  

Abortion “should not be politically decisive for Christians.” And this: “Jesus calls us away from the consumerist values that dominate contemporary America. Instead, he calls us to meet the needs of the poor. He also calls us to be merciful, which has strong implications in terms of war and capital punishment.”

Translation: Disdain free enterprise, redistribute income, demand national pacifism, and don’t execute murderers. Of course, if all of these things lead you to vote for Bernie Sanders, it must be just a coincidence.

Consumerism is an idol. God wants His people to be merciful. But He calls us to be generous to the poor so that they will be poor no longer. And His mercy is not isolated: He is also just, which is why the state does not bear the sword in vain (Romans 13:1-7).

Political Preferences

All Christians need to be careful about not reading their political preferences into Scripture. Yet some things are more important than others. Destroying defenseless life in the womb, eroding the foundations of the family, and denying the equal authority of all Scripture are wrongs that rise to the top of the list of evils.

Red-lettering the words of Jesus does no favors to Him or to the body of Scripture. Let us honor Him by honoring all of His Word and, whether conservative or liberal, not using it to justify our preferred beliefs.

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  • Patmos

    The red letters say to go forth and sin no more. Says it multiple places too. I guess maybe these fools think we get to write our own Torah to determine what sin is.

  • Rick

    Been happening a long time.

    “in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction”. 2 Peter 3:16

  • Linda Choquette

    You’ve cherry-picked your quotes and I hope readers do some of their own research about these peaceful Christians who live out the gospel daily. For example, where you give the brief quote about them not wanting abortion to be a devisive issue, they take that position while doing everything they can to change minds and hearts about abortion. Additional quotes from the same article you’ve used, go on to explain

    “I believe that abortion should not be a factor for Christians when assessing politicians or political parties…there is no evidence that restrictive laws and policies have any impact on reducing abortions…restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. Those who have done the most research on global abortion policy have found that restrictive and punitive laws simply do not serve their purpose. Just as laws banning abortion do not stop women from having them, it is equally true that permissive laws do not cause them to do so.

    “I hate abortion. But this is not the issue that should be mobilizing Christians when it comes time to vote. The belief that legislation will save unborn lives is misguided. Love, persuasion and an environment of support will accomplish much more. Imagining that legislation will stop abortion is just wishful thinking. Such legislation, were it to become law, would do more harm than good by pushing women to turn to unsafe illegal abortion. If Christians are going to be politically engaged, let it be for issues that truly matter for the well-being of those who are the most vulnerable and least advantaged.”

    • Patmos

      “these peaceful Christians who live out the gospel daily.”

      You’re really kidding yourself if you think affirming LGBT means living the gospel. Jesus preached repentance everywhere he went, as did the Apostles. The message of grace by definition has to include acknowledgement of sin.

      Or are you just part of this group’s PR team?

      • Tim Pan

        Well said.

    • Andrew Mason

      Except that other parts of that article further undermine the Red Letter’s claim to Christianity. It contends that pro-lifers should give up on the unborn and instead focus on providing food, shelter and health-care for the needy. It contends that abstinence programs don’t work, that Christians should be supporting contraceptives, and that illegal abortions endanger women. In closing it ends with SJWism – that Christians should be politically focused on the well-being of those who are the most vulnerable and least advantaged.

      Without giving significant details it appears to be preaching Marxism rather than Scripture. There are none more vulnerable than the unborn, and yet Red Letter seem to define abortion as an evil that ought to be ignored. They advocate contraceptives yet ignore that this is contrary to Catholic teaching, and sex outside marriage – the main reason to use contraceptives, is contrary to Scripture. They claim abstinence programs don’t work, yet this simply wrong. True they don’t prevent all accidents from happening – and society is preaching anything but abstinence, however laws against murder don’t stop murder either. The key is curtailing excesses, encouraging right living. By contrast non-abstinence programs simply encourage fornication, especially by young and vulnerable members of society. As for providing food, shelter, and healthcare for the needy, churches and Christians already do that however pro-lifers have a passion, or a calling, for the most vulnerable members of society. As for the claim that Christians should be politically focused on the well-being of those who are the most vulnerable and least advantaged, pro-lifers are. The unborn are denied rights every other citizen takes for granted – they’re even denied the right to life. Contrast that with the privileges afforded those who choose to pursue an LGBT lifestyle. Red Letter insist their demands be defended, and Scripture calling the lifestyle an abomination be ignored. If Red Letter is so quick to ignore Scripture, why are they not equally quick to ignore Jesus’ love of children?

    • Rob Schwarzwalder

      Respectfully, the quote you have just cited only underscores the title of the article itself – that abortion should not be a decisive voting matter for Christians. In my view, nothing should be more decisive in the ballot box than defending the 2,700 unborn children killed each day.

      • Linda Choquette

        Also respectfully, these people explain that they believe the love and support they offer women experiencing unwanted pregnancy goes further in saving unborn babies (changing her mind about having an abortion and helping her prevent a future one). Legislation does not change minds and hearts. Now, objecting to your tax dollars paying for abortion is another matter, but plenty of experience shows that the kindness of God leads to repentance and life change, legislation does not.

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