red letter revolution.

mjkimpan  —  October 3, 2012 — 21 Comments

 what if jesus really meant what he said?

that’s a question that can get you into a lot of trouble.

ironically, a good portion of that trouble tends to come from inside the religious community, because taking a serious look at the words highlighted in red in the sacred text seems to cause questions that are easily seen as meddling with the status quo.

but then again – the same thing happened when jesus spoke those red letters in the first place.

i recently had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Red Letter Revolution, a co-authored dialogue between shane claiborne and tony campolo. in it, they break up their two-way conversation into sections – part i :: red letter theology || part ii :: red letter living || part iii :: red letter world.

shane and tony have a ‘back and forth’ – almost like a transcripted discussion – on topics like hell, the church, the role of women, civil disobedience, homosexuality and empire.

while not all of the material was new to me, it was helpful – and i believe this recorded conversation between tony and shane could indeed serve the purpose of inspiring further thoughtful conversation and intentional movement among followers of jesus to find out better what that looks really looks like – if jesus really meant what he said.

i also appreciated the accessibility with which the authors outlined their understanding of how jesus’ teachings have more to offer for us – and the world – in this thing we call christianity.

perhaps my favorite quote from the book comes from shane claiborne ::

‘I always tell our community that we should attract the people Jesus attracted and frustrate the people Jesus frustrated. It’s certainly never our goal to frustrate, but it is worth noting that the people who were constantly agitated were the self-righteous, religious elite, the rich, and the powerful. But the people who were fascinated by him, by his love and grace, were folks who were already wounded and ostracized — folks who didn’t have much to lose, who already knew full well that they were broken and needed a Savior.’
-shane claiborne

what would happen if we lived with this perspective?

in my experience, one result would be the restoration of some red letters to their intended meaning, rather than a perpetual misunderstanding that lends itself to frustrating the very people jesus has called us to reach, as we discussed a few days ago.

want more?

<if you’d be interested in winning a free copy of this book – you’re in luck! thomas nelson graciously gave me ten copies of the book to give away. i’ve sent out three. seven left. want one? easy – like this post on facebook, tweet it, or leave a comment to let me know you’d like to be one of the seven!>

in the meantime, i’m going to unplug and process the things God is speaking to me through my time with rob bell and other new friends…which has literally been life-altering.

and yes, i just name dropped. you would too. he’s amazing.


  • Steve


    That sounds like a great book. I have read articles by both of those brothers. I’d love to have it. I also enjoy your words here Michael on Wayward. I first saw your articles on RLC and saw that you live right here in my area.


    • michael j. kimpan

      thanks, steve. send your mailing address to and i’ll send you a free copy!

  • Shaleen Camery-Hoggatt

    I’d love to have a copy and read this book. In a dream last night I was trying to communicate to my church leadership just how radical Jesus was/is and get a discussion going about the implications for our lives and church.

    • michael j. kimpan

      this book might help frame some of that discussion, for sure. send me your mailing address at and i’ll have thomas nelson send you one!

  • Roger Greenlee

    Hey, enjoy reading your blog, would love a copy of the book if you have any left… I have sent my address to your email. THANKS!

    • michael j. kimpan

      thanks, roger – i passed the info on to thomas nelson. i’ll let you know what i hear!

    • michael j. kimpan

      @google-55b9b0b3c7248c20901661cb8bf9f4ac:disqus just received this contact regarding your copy of the book from my contact at thomas nelson :: ‘on its way!’ so there you have it.

  • Micah J. Murray

    I just finished reading RLR too, and had a lot of the same thoughts you wrote about here. It’s sad that so many Christians feel more intimidated in following Jesus from OTHER CHRISTIANS.

    Check out the review on my blog:

    • michael j. kimpan

      that’s something we shall have to remedy, isn’t it?

  • Larrnell Cross

    I would love to have a copy of Red Letter Revolution. The things you highlighted from the book are very interesting. Hope you pick me.

    • michael j. kimpan

      unfortunately i no longer have any free copies – but it’s available in the resources section under the books tab for order. hope you enjoy it, larrnell

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