Irresistible Revolution is a collection of stories, teachings, and life experiences by Shane Claiborne. Claiborne is a Christian living as an ordinary radical. As a teen, he became bored with the mundaneness of christianity that he was seeing. So he sought out Christians who live according to The Word. He saves the living space of homeless, interns in Calcutta with Mother Teresa, co-founds an 'intentional community' (a community where everyone lives together, each contributes to living expenses, and serves the community and the surrounding communities), helps native families of Iraq during the war, and so much more. He is always tying in values and beliefs, as this book is focused on Christianity. He talks about the effects of war, materialism, self-righteousness, and the power of love and forgiveness.
This book contains views and claims that can be very convicting for someone who shares the same values as Claiborne. He does a nice job explaining what he means and why he means it. It is quite obvious that he is very passionate about his values and beliefs. I would recommend this book to someone who wants to see a different side of Christianity, whether they are a Christian or not.
Claiborne on the next page launches into the same harangue, "Christianity has offered little to the world, other than the hope that things will be better in heaven." 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 can't see past the end of his nose. Typical of the "emergents," 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 - never mind that none of us has ever MET that straw man.
He claims to be distancing himself not only from evangelicals but from "secular activism" as well. There's no evidence of that in the book, except that, unlike the secular activist, he will tack on "I love Jesus" to whatever photo-op charity he is involved with at that moment. He claims that a college teacher told him, "Don't let the world steal your soul," and then goes on to try convince us he avoided that fate, but the faith he presents here is decidedly worldly. "I don't really fit into the old conservative-liberal boxes." In fact, on every issue, he is solidly liberal. He does, of course, embrace the "radical" title. We are back in the 1960s again, and the smirk of the "radical" opposing the "system" hasn't changed one iota.
There is much self-congratulation here. An "all-night vigil and sleep-out" 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 "radical" Christians believes everything they do is a blow against the big three sins - racism, militarism, and materialism. Frankly, for all his criticism of people conforming to the culture, these "radicals" 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 can't help but focus on "sustainability."
The Bible isn't important to this writer (except any verses that happen to contain the word "poor"), and he states (as every "emergent" must, inevitably) that doctrines/beliefs just aren't important for him. Well, of course not. Doctrines require thought, and his whole generation is oriented on feeling. (Yes, I know - feelings DO matter, but Christianity doesn't require us to abandon thought.) Feeling, not thought, leads him to take the usual liberal positions on pacifism, capital punishment, etc.
"When people hear you wrote a book, they listen to what you have to say," he says. Not necessarily. Some readers are savvy enough to know that there are plenty of books full of bad, unbiblical ideas. I don't doubt that this author and his "radical" 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 "radical" positions. His theology, if that is even the right word, is equally shallow. Like so many of the young, he thinks "passion" and good intentions are enough. Maybe in time he will mature.
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.
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.