Though I own several Bibles with the words of Christ printed in red, I've always found the concept a bit iffy. After all, we evangelicals believe in the plenary, or full, inspiration of Scripture, don't we? Setting off Jesus' sayings this way seems to imply that they are more holy than what is printed in ordinary black ink. Sure, Christians understand that Jesus the incarnate Word fulfills the written Word. But if all Scripture is God-breathed, then in principle Jesus' inscripturated statements are no more God's Word to us than are those from Peter, Paul, and Mary—or Ezekiel.Compolo gave a response.
That's why I felt a bit queasy when I heard about a group calling itself "Red-Letter Christians." In the book Letters to a Young Evangelical, Tony Campolo says RLCs have an "intense desire to be faithful to the words of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament." That's a worthy start, of course—but only that.
I have to say, "You got us right!"(HT: Justin Taylor)
While we, like you, have a very high view of the inspiration of Scripture and believe the Bible was divinely inspired, you are correct in accusing Red Letter Christians of giving the words of Jesus priority over all other passages of Scripture. What is more, we believe that you really cannot rightly interpret the rest of the Bible without first understanding who Jesus is, what he did, and what he said.
ADDED: My blogging friend Doug has left an excellent comment which I've chosen to bring up here instead of leaving it in the meta: how did we get the Bible today? It's certainly not a question that deserves an easy, ten-word-or-less answer. Let me point to some places to start: