About The Red Letters….

December 20, 2012 — Leave a comment

I think its time to revisit a little history of the red letters and some of the people besides me who concentrated on them.  Who started putting the words of Jesus in red letters? Here is what Wikipedia says about that:

The term red letter edition is used to describe Bibles in which words spoken by Jesus, commonly only while he was on the Earth, are printed in red ink. This is not to be confused with the Red-Letter Christian movement, which has used this term to emphasize the teachings of Jesus in the Bible, particularly in regards to social justice.

The red letter edition was invented by Louis Klopsch, then editor of The Christian Herald magazine in 1899, and first published in 1900.  This style of Bible instantly became popular, and is sometimes favored by mainly Protestant Christians in the United States. Especially in King James Bibles, this format can be useful as quotation marks are not used.

Klopsch’s idea of printing the words of Jesus in red originated in Luke 22:20, which says: This cup is the new testament in my blood, which I shed for you. This inspired Klopsch to ask his mentor what he thought of printing the words spoken by Jesus in red, to which he replied, “It could do no harm and it most certainly could do much good.

Wikipedia made the point to emphasize that the  decision to put the words of Jesus in red letters has nothing to do with the Red Letter Christian movement now underway and growing quickly. Here again is what Wikipedia says about this movement

Red-Letter Christians constitute a non-denominational movement within Christianity. Proponents of the movement believe that Christianity, and especially evangelicalism, has been exploited by both right-wing and left-wing political movements and become too partisan and politicized. As a response they endeavor to create an evangelical movement that focuses on the teachings of Jesus Christ, particularly in regard to social issues. The two most prominent figures associated with the movement are Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo. 

Red Letter ChristiansAs you can tell from the title of this blog I am very much aligned with this movement. To me the words of Jesus Christ, especially those aligned with social justice take front and center in my life. If you are interested in learning more about this movement I would recommend the book entitled Red Letter Christians by Tony Campolo. If you search for the term “red letter christian” on Amazon several books will come up. This is a testament to the growing popularity of getting back to the words of Jesus as the early Christians did.  Most of what we call Christianity now is actually the result of men, both well-meaning and otherwise, who came after Jesus, sometime long after Jesus.

If you have read much of what I have written here you will know that to me Christianity has been hijacked to be what we believe about Jesus and many other unrelated things versus trying to “be” like Jesus as he commanded us. Part of the emergent movement that is now taking place in much of the world also aligns with putting the red letters back as the focus of our faith.

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