My first exposure to Shane Claiborne was through his first book, “Irresistible Revolution”. There he talks about growing up as a good Christian but then actually meeting the Jesus of the Bible (instead of the typical Christian sub-culture Jesus) and how it messed him up real good. Typically it’s the other way around! I loved what he had to say in that book, I loved reading about the stories following this secondary conversion and his passion was fully evident on every page. If you want to understand about Claiborne or the Simple Way, this would be a good starter.
If you want to take it a step further, I believe that “Jesus for President” would be a good follow-up. Here in this book he outlines his theology and the way he understands how the Bible should shape our politics. Rather than fall into Republican vs Democrat battles, he traces in the Bible how God’s plan for his people was never about that type of debate. Claiborne discusses ancient Israel, Jesus and the NT Church and each of these was radically counter-cultural in their own day. Like certain other prominent Christians, Claiborne is alarmed at the increasing mix of politics and faith in our world and one of his main goals is to proclaim that this is simply not Biblical. This book came out around the 2008 election, so some of the references may be a bit dated, but the message certainly isn’t. He also includes a section on different Christians from history who “thought differently”, as well as individuals and communities of our own time who are also doing this.
I do have a few critiques – as much as I love his thinking, at times it can become somewhat simplistic or it almost sounds as if you’re not following the exact same path as him then you’re doing it wrong. Plus, he repeats some of the same stories from Irresistible Revolution (“Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers” has some of these same stories as well!). The binding on the book is somewhat cheap and some of my pages have started falling out. However, the presentation of the book is wonderful – it looks like one big delightful art project. Even if you don’t like his theology or thinking, it’s hard to criticize its physical beauty. At the end of the day, we need more folks like Shane Claiborne and I look forward to what else he has to contribute in years to come!
A wonderful book that seeks to challenge our ideas about Christianity, politics, and what it means to be God's people set apart in this world. The book design is quite remarkable with beautiful illustrations and relevant quotes.