Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw envision a new kind of President in their book Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals. There have been many books published this year that attempt to provide a guide to voting in the upcoming Presidential elections (See my previous reviews of Tony Campolo’s Red Letter Christians, and Jim Wallis’ The Great Awakening . Claiborne and Haw seem less interested in helping Christians figure out whether they should vote for the Republican or Democratic candidate than in encouraging Christians to think more carefully and deeply about their primary loyalty to Jesus Christ. Claiborne and Haw explore the lordship of Jesus Christ in fresh, creative, and engaging ways.
Jesus for President is divided into four main sections: Section 1 looks at the problem that has come from human sin and the need that we have to be saved from ourselves; Section 2 looks at Jesus as the Prince of Peace and the ironies surrounding his life and the kingdom he is ushering in; Section 3 asks what disciples of Jesus Christ should do when the “empire” seems to have been baptized , or what to do when “two Kingdoms” collide?; Section 4 argues that the greatest challenge facing Christians “is to maintain the distinctiveness of our faith in a world gone mad… all of creation waits, groans, for a people who live God’s dream with fresh imagination.”
Claiborne and Haw are currently in the midst of a “Jesus for President” tour where they continue to campaign for a very different Presidential candidate. Check out their website to see if Claiborne and Haw are coming to a city near you.
I really appreciate Claiborne and Haw’s efforts to take seriously the teachings of Jesus. Claiborne talks about his experiences with Simple Way, a community in inner Philadelphia in his previous book, Irresistible Revolution. Claiborne is tough to categorize, because his stubborn insistence of living the kind of life that Jesus taught his followers to live makes him seem “conservative,” while his obvious identification with the poor and oppressed makes him seem equally “liberal.” This book is worth the read, ultimately, because Claiborne and Haw aren’t working to get either a conservative or a liberal into the White House, they are working to get those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ to care more about loyalty to the Kingdom of God than the government of the United States. Amen. Jesus for President!
This is a thoughtful and concise review of an extremely interesting book. May more of us have the courage to consider Jesus’ teachings as Haw and Claiborne have.
Jonathan Marlowe said:
I like the book. It seems he was providing us with a version of Yoder’s Politics of Jesus, only putting it in a fresh, non-academic idiom.
Kevin Watson said:
Ryan, thanks for your comment and thanks for stopping by.
Jonathan, good point on the connection to Yoder. I also agree about the non-academic idiom, their book reminded me at times of much of what I had been taught in seminary, but more conversational and easier to follow… and maybe also a bit better situated into the overall Christian story. Thanks for the comment!