The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical
"Passionate" isn't enough
The word Ã¢ÂÂrevolutionÃ¢ÂÂ would have you believe this book presents something new. But itÃ¢ÂÂs the same old same old: turn Christianity from a faith centered on salvation and heaven to just another wing of liberal political activism. This is evident in the Foreword, where Wallis perpetuates a familiar liberal clichÃÂ© when he praises the Ã¢ÂÂnew generation of Christians who want to live their faith in this world, not the next.Ã¢ÂÂ That is a false Ã¢ÂÂeither/orÃ¢ÂÂ that liberals have used to bash conservatives for fifty years. ItÃ¢ÂÂs not a matter of either this world OR the next, as you will find if you visit any evangelical churchÃ¢ÂÂs website and look at the various ministries they perform. Evangelicals regard the next world as a higher priority but keep plenty active in this world. For liberals, the afterlife is an afterthought, and it plays no role in their ideology.
Claiborne on the next page launches into the same harangue, Ã¢ÂÂChristianity has offered little to the world, other than the hope that things will be better in heaven.Ã¢ÂÂ Does he know nothing of Christian history? Mission hospitals, abolishing slavery, monasteries and convents that ministered to the sick, the poor, orphans, the charities that always sprang up in the wake of any religious revival. And how little he seems aware of what conservative churches do today. Like so many in his age bracket, the world only began when he first came on the stage. Typical of the young, he canÃ¢ÂÂt see past the end of his nose. Typical of the Ã¢ÂÂemergents,Ã¢ÂÂ he defines himself not in relation to real evangelicals, who engage in a multitude of charitable ministries, but in relation to the old straw man, the evangelical who thinks only of heaven Ã¢ÂÂ never mind that none of us has ever MET that straw man.
He claims to be distancing himself not only from evangelicals but from Ã¢ÂÂsecular activismÃ¢ÂÂ as well. ThereÃ¢ÂÂs no evidence of that in the book, except that, unlike the secular activist, he will tack on Ã¢ÂÂI love JesusÃ¢ÂÂ to whatever photo-op charity he is involved with at that moment. He claims that a college teacher told him, Ã¢ÂÂDonÃ¢ÂÂt let the world steal your soul,Ã¢ÂÂ and then goes on to try convince us he avoided that fate, but the faith he presents here is decidedly worldly. Ã¢ÂÂI donÃ¢ÂÂt really fit into the old conservative-liberal boxes.Ã¢ÂÂ In fact, on every issue, he is solidly liberal. He does, of course, embrace the Ã¢ÂÂradicalÃ¢ÂÂ title. We are back in the 1960s again, and the smirk of the Ã¢ÂÂradicalÃ¢ÂÂ opposing the Ã¢ÂÂsystemÃ¢ÂÂ hasnÃ¢ÂÂt changed one iota.
There is much self-congratulation here. An Ã¢ÂÂall-night vigil and sleep-outÃ¢ÂÂ turns into a pizza party, yet somehow he recounts this as having some effect on the war in Afghanistan. (Burying a dead cat a midnight will rid you of warts too.) He and his fellow Ã¢ÂÂradicalÃ¢ÂÂ Christians believes everything they do is a blow against the big three sins Ã¢ÂÂ racism, militarism, and materialism. Frankly, for all his criticism of people conforming to the culture, these Ã¢ÂÂradicalsÃ¢ÂÂ look just like secular liberals. Like secular activists, they focus on poverty, war, and (the biggie) the environment. Having given up belief in an afterlife, the libs canÃ¢ÂÂt help but focus on Ã¢ÂÂsustainability.Ã¢ÂÂ
The Bible isnÃ¢ÂÂt important to this writer (except any verses that happen to contain the word Ã¢ÂÂpoorÃ¢ÂÂ), and he states (as every Ã¢ÂÂemergentÃ¢ÂÂ must, inevitably) that doctrines/beliefs just arenÃ¢ÂÂt important for him. Well, of course not. Doctrines require thought, and his whole generation is oriented on feeling. (Yes, I know Ã¢ÂÂ feelings DO matter, but Christianity doesnÃ¢ÂÂt require us to abandon thought.) Feeling, not thought, leads him to take the usual liberal positions on pacifism, capital punishment, etc.
Ã¢ÂÂWhen people hear you wrote a book, they listen to what you have to say,Ã¢ÂÂ he says. Not necessarily. Some readers are savvy enough to know that there are plenty of books full of bad, unbiblical ideas. I donÃ¢ÂÂt doubt that this author and his Ã¢ÂÂradicalÃ¢ÂÂ pals mean well, and maybe they really do feel their acts are Christian, but it is clear in this book that he has no respect at all for people who lived before him, no conception that there might actually be good in many traditions, no ability to learn from people with more experience of the world. His understanding of the Bible is shallow, to put it mildly, and he quotes it only to back up his pre-deteremined Ã¢ÂÂradicalÃ¢ÂÂ positions. His theology, if that is even the right word, is equally shallow. Like so many of the young, he thinks Ã¢ÂÂpassionÃ¢ÂÂ and good intentions are enough. Maybe in time he will mature.
September 24, 2012
I found this book to be very challenging to my discipleship. Made me realize that I'm not on a level of service or devotion to Christ that I should be.
May 18, 2010
Half Star Too Many Says,One of the first things I did is stop at page 34 and go to his appendix and simply follow some of the links that the money from the sales of this book go to. What did I find? You can see what I found in more depth.I found a person beholden top anti-Christian Marxist ideals that connects the reader to some of the most atheistic/Marxist/Leninist sites imaginable... not to mention an extreme form of liberal Christianity. One can also find throughout this book by Shane Claiborne the following (keep in mind I could have been more exhaustive in my examples, but these should suffice):Shane is also very antithetical to police (p. 122), anti-military (pp. 95-96, 122-123), and teaches a "kingdom now theology" (pp. 62, 87), calls for overthrowing a particular social order using Marxist/Leninist speak (p. 129), and the like. Why this book is even considered in the panoply of Christian literature is beyond me. But I hope that others with discerning ears and eyes will put this book in its proper place by saying along with me that even half-a-star is too much. I recommend a book sold here at CBD to help the student work through some of these issues (not Shane's issues specifically), it is "Reclaiming the Center: Confronting Evangelical Accomodation in Postmodern Times"I will recommend CBD pick up Bob Dewaay's book, "The Emerging Church: Undefining Christianity." This topic will get more and more needed and CBD should be ahead of the curve.
January 14, 2010
This is one of those rare books that peals away the scales from our eyes and lets us look again at what it really means to be a follower of Christ. This book is for all of us who have ever thought, there has to be more to Christianity than this.
May 18, 2009