Book review: The Irresistible Revolution

by Shane Claiborne


Welcome to the world of radical Christian Shane Claiborne, where compassion and brotherly love trump all else. It’s a world of protest rallies, sleeping alongside the homeless, frequent jail time, caring for others alongside Mother Teresa at Calcutta, and visits to leper colonies and wartime Iraq. Shane believes in works, and has written a book for a new generation of Christians who want to live their faith to the fullest. Church is no longer enough: Shane jokes that if someone had a heart attack on Sunday morning, the paramedics would have to take the pulse of half the congregation before they would find the dead person. A friend of his put it this way: “I gave up Christianity in order to follow Jesus.”

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. For Shane, these are no longer repetitious words, atonally muttered in anticipation of a future era. They are today’s conviction.

At this point in my book review, I’m supposed to gleefully endorse Shane’s revolutionary Christianity. Actually, the book was a bit troubling for me, more so as I saw shades of Jesus himself in its radical suggestions, for I cannot lend my support to some of Shane’s teachings, and others, though just as unarguably Christ-like, I find myself unwilling to embrace. I find, like Shane, that Jesus was a radical activist, a role I am uncomfortable with. I agree with Shane that Jesus taught we should literally sell all and follow his humanitarian lead, and the only weak defense I can muster is to point out that that was 2,000 years ago. Shane’s energy (fueled by a deep belief in the “Jesus of faith” and the Bible’s inerrancy that I cannot share) left me drained and discouraged. I’d like my Jesus served up passive and agreeable, please, even when I know it ain’t so.

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