Red-letter Christians

Some editions of the Bible print the words of Christ in red so that they stand out from the rest of the text. This has lent a nickname to Christians who make a common doctrinal mistake. A red-letter Christian is someone who believes that the only parts of the Bible that really matter are the direct quotations of Christ. There are a couple reasons I think this is a mistake.

First, it’s naive. The authors of the Gospels made decisions about what quotes to include and what to exclude. So if you base your faith on the red letters, you aren’t reading Christ’s words straight. You’re reading the Gospel writers’ versions of what Christ said.

Second, it takes Christ’s words out of context. Christ wasn’t speaking into a vacuum. He was forming a community (the Church) and speaking to it. The community heard what he said and created the New Testament based on it.

Some Christians think you can get rid of the Church and just read the Bible, and that makes for a simpler, purer Christianity. But that’s backwards. Jesus didn’t write the New Testament, upon which the Church was later based. Jesus created the Church, which then wrote the New Testament.

If you are interested in learning more about what Catholics believe about the Bible, a good place to start is this section from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.


5 Responses

  1. I am a former Catholic who has since converted to Christianity and I see a common thread here as I saw before I found the truth, not using God’s word the Bible as the authority for your teachings. Apostle Peter said of scripture in 2Peter 1:21 that men spoke as they were moved by holy spirit and apostle Paul also said in 2Timothy 3:16,17 that ALL scripture is given by inspiration from God and is profitable for teaching,…
    Jesus Christ quoted from the scriptures many times not only when he was teaching his audience but also when the devil tried to tempt him. (Matthew 5:21,27,31,33,44; & 4:1-10; Mark 7:6 etc) In Mark 7:7,8 Jesus’ words made clear the importance of scripture when he said in quoting Isaiah’s prophecy, “it is in vain that they keep worshipping me(God), because they teach as doctrines the commands of men, letting go the commandments of God, you hold fast the tradition of men. There is so much from the Bible that is in conflict with the Catholic faith and many other faiths claiming to be Christian but surely since Christ is the founder of TRUE Christianity shouldn’t ALL those professing belief in him as the son of God and our savior adhere to his teachings which he himself said were from his Father and God?

  2. Emmy, what makes you any better than the Catholics? Nothing that I see.

    There is no evidence that Jesus founded a religion and even most Protestants admit that Jesus didn’t write any of the Gospels either. So Jonah got it right.

  3. Sometimes the verses of the Báb were copied so that the word “Bahá” would be written in red ink. This enabled those who had no time to read everything would at least spot the name of the Promised One.

    I have a large compilation on all the issues pertaining to A Baha’i-Catholic Dialogue (ABCD) IF you would like this Word file email me

  4. I’m not a Christian, but if I were I think I would be a Catholic or Orthodox – not a Protestant. I don’t agree with the concept of “sola scripture”, as I think it leads to stagnation and a literalistic reading of all scripture. The problem is that sometimes the Bible is symbolic, and other times it is literal. Who, then, gets to decide which is which? Designating somebody or a group of people who have authority to make said decision, would help alleviate a lot of confusion about that one issue alone. That doesn’t mean there is no room for individual interpretation, but having a clear answer to some of these problems isn’t a bad thing imho.

    Assuming that Christ can only speak through his written words, is also a contradiction imho. If Christ is God, and can do anything – then why is He limited to some words written in a book. He can’t communicate with human beings directly? He can’t guide people and inspire them to write, and infuse those writings with His power? He can’t designate certain people to interpret His teachings – and by extension He can’t designate people to interpret the person who interpreted His teachings? That’s putting a lot of limitations on someone who is supposed to be God, imho.

    Getting off my soapbox

  5. LOL ! you all are so wrong in your views. Or better said your simplistic views are wrong not you. First of all the first person insults Christians that decide to give importance to the red -ink no one said that people just read the red. Obviously to understand the context has to read the previous black ink verses. Second : The catholic church is known for always taking away Jesus from the people and perverting the word of God with rituals, and statements of guilt and condemnation, stating that iot is infallible and the true church. Any church that says that is wrong because the church is ALL THE BELIEVERS IN JESUSCHRIST AS THEIR SAVIOR THRPUGH THE SACRIFICE ON THE CROSS, THE SHEDDING OF HIS BLOOD AND RESURRECTION HE IS THE TRUTH THE LIFE THE WAY AND SALVATION FOR ALL. CATHOLICS DON’T EVEN READ THE BIBLE LET ALONE UNDERSTAND IT. THIRD: They teach that the virgin any virgin is the mother of GOD that’ is so aberrant. Virgin Mary was USED AS A VESSEL of the grace of God Through the Holy Spirit . not His mother! Even in the altars they put the Virgin all up and jesus our savior over here on the side. many saints for eeeevverything ! Taking away from the true faith in Christ Jesus. And Jesus didn’t “invented” the catholic church either. He came to be the savior of this world not all but of those who put thair faith in Him, to be the light of this world. And the church is US Christians or catholics or whatever church out there that has people that truly know the father through His son Jesus. if catholics were less lazy to read the bible they will find that comparing versions, translations and searching for the truth is not contained in their Ecumenical version full of pictures especially placed in the chapters that are most important like SALVATION for instance and ful of Papa pics, saints, you name it. the game is called : DISTRACTION FROM THE TRUTH. AND THE TRUTH IS IN JESUSCHRIST ONLY !

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