Contend Earnestly: The RED Letters

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The RED Letters



The Red Letters, compiled by Tim Beals, for it is hard to say that he is the author as the author here is Christ as they are his words, is a book that, if used correctly, can be of great help. Tim Beals states at the end of his introduction that his "hope is that the red letters become the read letters."

What I really like about the book is that it sets up all the saying of Christ in chronological order in the first part and then by topic in the second part. He also makes sure that he only takes from one of the gospel accounts instead of all four when Christ's words are recorded by every author or multiple authors. Mr. Beals decided to do this to keep the book at a minimum and chose to take whichever account was most thorough in its recording of the words of Christ. I believe the book will be most helpful to take all four gospel accounts of Christ's words and put them in the order that Christ said them, as this can get quite confusing when trying to put them in order yourself. For this, it is quite helpful and will be used by myself when in need of this type of study.

The hard part of this study is that it is quite unreadable. The reason is that it is literally only the words of Christ. So, as one tries to read through it, they miss all the dialogue of the listeners or background information given by the gospel writer. So, while the book might be a great resource for a teacher or one studying the words of Christ, to simply read the book one will be quite frustrated.

The other part that sets this book up for question, but I don't believe is the author's intent is the movement of those who only rely on what Christ states, and dismiss the rest of the Bible as secondary because it isn't in "red letters." While I don't believe that Mr. Beals would accept this idea he does make the point to state that, "My (Mr. Beals) primary incentive is to provide a unique volume that will enable us to become better apprentices of the Master by allowing us to hear directly from him about what matters most." and "By looking at the 'red letters', Jesus' spoken words, we see what is important to him."

These two quotes seem to put forth that the rest of Bible isn't the spoken word of Christ. I have said before that just because it didn't come out of the mouth of Jesus while on earth doesn't mean Christ didn't say it or deem it as important. The danger with the thinking that the only importance that Christ deemed came from his mouth while on earth is that one will put these words above the rest of Scripture. This isn't okay. All Scripture is inspired by God, not just the red letters. While I do not know the convictions of Mr. Beals on this subject, I would suppose that he would not desire his book to be used by "red letter Christians" who put Paul's words, and the other writers of Scripture, as secondary to that of Christ's. This is my main concern with a book that simply puts forth Christ's words with absolutely no commentary on them.

So, the book will be very helpful for those who desire to get to the point of what Christ spoke while on this earth and in what order that happened and the topics he discussed. I just hope that this book isn't taken to mean that the rest of Scripture is secondary and used to show why certain topics or convictions are okay because they aren't "in red" in the Bible. So, I would recommend the book for study and useful help, but would not recommend the book to base one's sole theology on. Recommended.

Link to Buy:

Crossway



4 comments:

Pete Williamson said...

this sounds like Tony Campolo's shtick...is this where he gets it or is it the other way around?

Seth McBee said...

Not too sure about Campolo. I haven't followed his stuff since he went crazy during the Clinton administration and then came to SPU (my alum) to talk and just started to get very liberal in his theology.

So, just not too sure.

I also am not sure about Tim Beals thoughts on "Red Letter Christians". That's why this book was hard to write a review on.

Josh said...

Have you ever read "The Life of Christ in Stereo"?

I loved that book.

Seth McBee said...

Josh.
I haven't....will check it out.

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