Maybe in the blogosphere the word trashing should be replaced with snarking but that is another issue. Let’s hit this head on. If you search the words “red letter Christian” on WordPress and other blogs you will find several sites by fellow Christians that are antagonistic to that phrase or even to the concept of using red letters. I must admit the word “trashing” might be a little strong for most of these criticisms but not all. People opposed to this concept seem to think that somehow if you concentrate on the red letters (i.e. the words of Christ) you are either a heretic or at least a misguided Christian needing correction. Giving priority to the direct words of Jesus seems almost sacrilegious to some of them. They cite 2Timothy 3:16 for their proof. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. To them this means that no words are more important than others. St Paul wrote the letter that is now recognized as 2 Timothy around AD 60. Many theologians believe that he was referring to the Jewish Old Testament. The reason for this is as follows. The Gospel of Mark, which is widely believed to be the first of the four gospels written was probably composed about the same time as 2Timothy. Therefore it was very unlikely that Mark’s gospel, or any of the other gospels which came later, was even available to Paul as he was writing these words. Of course Paul was a very devout and knowledgeable Jew before he became a Christian so he was very familiar with the Old Testament. Since it would be another 300+ years before anything resembling our present day Bible was even in existence Paul could not have been talking about the New Testament as we know it. But, I do agree that the New Testament , even if that is not what Paul was talking about , is also useful for teaching and training and such.
Even the term “God-breathed” in this text is highly debatable among many scholars of the Bible. Many believe that the original text, or should I say the earliest surviving text, is more appropriately translated to be “inspired by God”. To me “God-breathed” and “inspired by God” has two completely different meanings but I will not criticize others who think differently. Yes, I agree that all of the Bible, and also many of the early Christian writings that did not end up in the Bible, were inspired by God. But, for me I reserve the words “God breathed” to mean they came directly from Jesus’ mouth or were given directly to some of the OT prophets by God himself.
There is a centuries old ongoing debate in the Christian community between “inerrancy” and “infallibility” when it comes to the Bible. I fall into the camp of the latter but I will respect my Christian brothers who choose to think differently than me. One of the best things and one of the worst things about the Bible is that two people can read the same words and come away with two completely different meanings. It often happens that even one person will get two different meanings from one verse depending on where he/she is at on their road with Christ. Some of the sites that speak out against the red letters arrogantly assume that everything they believe is totally true and if you disagree with them then you must be “wrong”. I will not be one to assume that I, or anyone else for that matter, totally knows the heart of God. Won’t those who think that way be surprised when they reach the pearly gates.