Tony Campolo, best-selling evangelical author and preacher, has defended the Red Letter Christians movement which gives the words of Jesus primary authority over other parts of the Bible.
The group derives its name from some Bible editions which put Jesus' words in red and has been criticised for viewing these passages as having more authority than others. But Campolo rebuffed his critics and said "red letters are the most important part of the Scripture" because "Jesus raises the moral standard."
In an interview with the Christian Post he said: "There's no question that the morality prescribed by Jesus is superior to anything that was hitherto suggested by the law and the prophets."
The defence on Monday came after Campolo wrote an article for Christian Today in late September where he argued "the words of Jesus…are more important than the black letters in the Old Testament, primarily because Jesus himself said they were."
He was responding to another article for Christian Today by Ian Paul who accused him of "cutting down our Bibles to remove the awkward bits". The theology lecturer and blogger wrote: "Focusing on the red letters actually undermines historic Christian belief."
But Campolo insisted Red Letter Christians do consider all the Bible inspired. He told the Christian Post "the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible, is crucial in that it points to Jesus.
"I want to always add that the early Church didn't have a New Testament, but what they were able to do under the influence of the Holy Spirit is to find the message and the story of Jesus written all through the law and the prophets of the Old Testament," he said.
"In short, the Scriptures that were written before the New Testament point to Jesus and they are crucially important for us to understand Jesus."
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