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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals

Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals - Shane Claiborne,  Chris Haw The title of this book is an attention getting update of terms such as "King Jesus" and "Jesus is Lord."  It’s an ironic title because the authors admit that the American “powers and principalities” would remove him quickly if Jesus were somehow made President of the United States. Why? Because the first thing he would do is disarm the military and put them to work aiding the poor.

This book's position is that the ethics of Jesus apply to life here and now; not to some personal spiritual relationship that provides a ticket to a heavenly afterlife.  Readers who believe Jesus is an American and a member of their favorite political party will be shocked to find that the authors of this book are at a completely different place.  In other words, after taking the Hebrew and Christian scriptures more seriously than those identified by the mainstream media as "evangelical conservatives," this book has arrived at a political positions that are polar opposites those pious folks.

My summary of the book’s position is this--actions matter, share your money, and avoid possessing power. Doing this will lead you to live simply, aid the poor and oppose the military. If that sounds radical, this book agrees.  Jesus was radical in his time, and the writers of this book want to follow his example and be radical in our time.

I am generally sympathetic with their political positions, and I tend to be amused at how their study of the Bible leads them to political positions opposed to the “holier that thou” evangelical conservatives. But I can’t be too smug about it because the authors of this book would not approved of my own life style. They don’t offer much of a middle position short of dumpster diving, living off the grid and giving my money away.

The book is divided into four main sections. The first two sections are focused on showing that the book's positions are rooted in the Bible. The first section does a quick overview of the scriptures used by Jesus, the Hebrew scriptures. The second section deals with Jesus' relationship with religious and political leaders in his time. The third section describes what the early church was like before and after it became the state religion. The fourth and last section discusses what Christianity can look like today when allegiance is to God over national patriotism. It goes on to deal with nitty-gritty questions such as serving in the military, paying taxes, and consumerism.

I couldn't help but notice that the book references John Howard Yoder several times. I have recently read his book, Politics of Jesus which I found to be a challenging academic style of writing. The book "Jesus for President" in contrast is quite easy to read and is probably written at a junior high level. I also noticed that the book sites the Amish as a positive example of how Christians should live.