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Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary…

Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals (edition 2008)

by Shane Claiborne, Chris Haw

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5661217,572 (4.18)7
Title:Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals
Authors:Shane Claiborne
Other authors:Chris Haw
Info:Zondervan (2008), Paperback, 348 pages
Collections:Your library

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Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne



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Bottom Line Up Front: Absolutely crucial for modern Christians in the US. Truly a challenge of what being a disciple of Jesus should look like.

I was, however, tempted to give it a lower rating based on the design of the book, but ultimately the message overshadowed any misgivings I have about its design. I wish it would have been a simple, boring old book, but they over-designed it. I am not sure the reason, but it seems silly. ( )
  JEPartrick | May 2, 2017 |
Certainly not perfect on an academic/thinker/senser level, but since I already agreed with most of what he has to say it served to inspire me. I mean, we all read our own agenda into the Bible one way or another anyway. ( )
  swampygirl | Dec 9, 2013 |
Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw’s Jesus for President lays out a sort of electoral strategy for making Jesus our President, if not in reality than at least in our hearts. Claiborne and Haw look at the prophetic templates for rulers in the Hebrew Bible, the teachings of Jesus, and the pre-Constantine church for inspiration on how to live into the politically subversive nature of the Christian message. The authors make it clear that no political party has a claim on the party of Jesus; in fact it would seem that Jesus’ politics would take a creative reimagining that would transform the way we live into our worldliness while acknowledging our other-worldliness.

In the Hebrew Bile the authors look to the warnings against becoming like the other nations and to the precedent of rulers being accompanied by a “critic on the margin” who could challenge the ruler to be more aligned with the will of God than with the will of humanity. The plenteous examples of rulers from the Hebrew Bible make it clear that kingly power is ultimately corruptive in human hands; even the great King David abused his power. The solution to the earthly kings came in the form of the marginal Jesus. The authors make the point that the Bible is ironic, with great power coming from the unexpected and lowly places. Jesus does not fall neatly into the political schism of the world, rather Jesus approaches the world in a “third way.” By suffering crucifixion, and encouraging his followers to suffer the path of the cross, Jesus preaches a “completely different way to view the world.”

The authors conclude by showing how this ‘third way’ of Jesus could look in the world. They describe the various hypothetical situations that people propose to them, and then show how a third way could be used to emulate Jesus’ actions. Rather than confronting or escaping evil, Jesus and the authors of this book propose doing the unexpected. Even though this third way may result in the same tragedies that traditional responses would, they would at least refuse to pay back violence for violence. The ultimate message of Jesus for President is trying to find a third way for dealing with the problems of the world by the people not of the world. ( )
  cbradley | May 17, 2012 |
I’m wondering if this book will somehow define a watershed in my faith. I hope so. Claiborne and Haw have come up with something that is potentially explosive where I live, a model of USAnian Republican Christianity. It’s not that they’re saying anything new, it’s the context in which it is said that makes this book dynamite.

No one who truly understands the character and teachings of Jesus Christ can fail to be disturbed by the political policies of the United States. Let me start out by staying that the US is no more or less corrupt than any other nation you might happen to brush with. But what makes the message broadcast by the superpower of the moment so insidious is the fact that it is presented with a sugar-coating of spiritualism that claims that it is a Christian nation with a president (at least of the time Jesus for President was written) who follows Jesus.

Claiborne and Haw describe what following Jesus looks like for the first third of the book. The second third is dedicated to showing that whatever the US follows, it isn’t Jesus. The final third of the book is a description of what society could look like if it did follow Jesus. I found the first third a bit boring, the second had me cheering from the stands and the third had me on my knees with a notepad. I found it exceedingly challenging.

Described here is a very compelling argument as to why the US versions of nationalism, democracy, capitalism and foreign policy are anything but comparable to the teachings of Jesus. It’s a message that I dearly wish my Republican-minded US colleagues and friends would engage with. Note, I didn’t say follow. We’re no more to follow Claiborne and Haw than Bush is to follow Wolfowitz. But in 90% of the conversations that I have with people who believe what this book challenges, I find there’s absolutely no room for argument. To be Christian is to be Republican and, perhaps more importantly, vice versa. But as the authors brilliantly point out in response to the question of whether the US is in fact a Christian nation:

The United States is Christian insomuch as it looks like Christ.

Now I have no problem with Christians taking a political view. In fact, I have problems with Christians who think you should not or, more naively, cannot take one. But we have been warned to be as wise as serpents and navigating political waters these days, as in Jesus’ day, requires great wisdom. As they say

the most important question for the church today isn’t whether Christianity is political but how is Christianity political

Those who leave no room for argument perhaps leave no room for God to speak to them through works like Jesus for President and that, for me, is a great tragedy. We need present-day prophets like Claiborne and Haw to remind us of what Jesus teaches and to remind us that he is the standard that we should measure ourselves by daily. Listen to this for a sample of what you’re in for here:

In [the fourth century church’s] pursuit of "making disciples of every nation" and baptizing all those within the [Roman] empire, they stumbled into baptizing the empire itself…. producing what so many liberal and conservative Christians want today – an empire run on the blood of Jesus Christ, a holy Christian state. Through inheriting all the "kingdoms of this world," the church became the kind of beast that Jesus worked and taught against. The history of the church has been largely a history of "believers" refusing to believe in the way of the crucified Nazarene and instead giving in to the very temptation he resisted – power, relevancy, spectacle. One says that we must love our enemies, the other says that we must kill them; one promotes the economics of competition, while the other admonishes the forgiveness of debts. To which do we pledge allegiance?

I’ve lent this book to someone else in the community now and it will be making its rounds. It will no doubt spark debate. I have a feeling though that Claiborne and Haw… and Jesus… are after repentance, not simply debate. ( )
  arukiyomi | Nov 25, 2011 |
The term 'kingdom of God' is about as overtly political as it's possible to be. Jesus wasn't glossing over the political implications of his ministry so it's unfortunate that so many Christians today have learned not to hear them. Praying "thy kingdom come" in the Lord's Prayer is political subversion and a hope for radical overturn of present day politics. As the book points out, if the prayer meant God's support for current world leaders, then Jesus would have in fact just prayed for people in power. But Jesus was never a fan of people in power; he would much rather advocate for the dispossessed and marginalized at the mercy of unjust systems headed by the powerful. We hear that in the Beatitudes, another passage that Christians today certainly know but generally don't hear as a political message.

So Jesus for President is meant as a reclamation of the political overtones of Jesus' ministry, offering challenging considerations for what it means for Christians in the United States today to live under a hyper-capitalist republic (slash oligarchy). This does not mean that the authors are suggesting the US government should impose Christianity, nor should anyone be led to think that America is a "Christian nation" in any appreciable sense of the term. The title is rather tongue-in-cheek: the authors cite the adage that anyone who desires power isn't trustworthy enough to deserve it. And Jesus' most direct experience with the power of the state was when it executed him, so there's that. Ultimately they argue from a bottom-up involvement with people rather than a top-down involvement with systems. "No government can legislate love" in any case, but individuals can participate in the good of their country by being concerned for the good of one another.

For readers who are interested in biblical scholarship about Jesus' politics, please look elsewhere (I'd begin with Horsley's Jesus and Empire; this book relies heavily on Yoder's Politics of Jesus). Claiborne and Haw aren't scholars nor claim to be, so the academic sections of this book were the weakest. But once they hit their stride with reflection on present day issues of justice, with citations of Jesus as a tool to think with rather than an answer, this book invites readers into considerations of their own politics and responsibilities to their nation, fellow citizens, and God. ( )
  the_awesome_opossum | Feb 26, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0310278422, Paperback)

Jesus for President is a radical manifesto to awaken the Christian political imagination, reminding us that our ultimate hope lies not in partisan political options but in Jesus and the incarnation of the peculiar politic of the church as a people 'set apart' from this world. In what can be termed lyrical theology, Jesus for President poetically weaves together words and images to sing (rather than dictate) its message. It is a collaboration of Shane Claiborne's writing and stories, Chris Haw's reflections and research, and Chico Fajardo-Heflin's art and design. Drawing upon the work of biblical theologians, the lessons of church history, and the examples of modern-day saints and ordinary radicals, Jesus for President stirs the imagination of what the Church could look like if it placed its faith in Jesus instead of Caesar. A fresh look at Christianity and empire, Jesus for President transcends questions of 'Should I vote or not?' and 'Which candidate?' by thinking creatively about the fundamental issues of faith and allegiance. It's written for those who seek to follow Jesus, rediscover the spirit of the early church, and incarnate the kingdom of God.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:48 -0400)

Addresses the relationship between faith and allegiance, arguing that the ultimate hope of individuals lies not in partisan political options but in Jesus and the incarnation of the politic of the church as a people "set apart" from this world.

(summary from another edition)

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