June 4, 2009

Review of Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne

Shane Claiborne is someone "living as an ordinary radical." He is part of a faith community known as The Simple Way in Philadelphia, and lives in the impoverished area known as Kensington in Philadelphia. This community is part of a movement that could be considered a form of new monasticism.He is someone who has taken seriously the call of the Gospel to live a radically different life.

The Irresistible Revolution reads like a travelogue of a life, or, like a memoir of sorts. It weaves stories and experiences from Shane's life with challenging questions and theological insight. It is easy to read, but challenging to chew.

Shane's book is about his experiences and application and sometimes this makes it a little difficult to interpret...it actually takes some thinking on the readers part (imagine having to do that!) to make application for our own life. Shane is single without kids, living in a community house in a poor neighborhood, part of the cell church type of system, and relatively free of some of the responsibilities of that life (not that he is free of responsibility). The challenge becomes making application and figuring out how to live the Kingdom-Life for the person who is married with children, living in the suburbs or rural areas, part of an organized church, and tied down with some additional life responsibilities because of those realities. Luckily Shane isn't completely insensitive to our plight to make application...he says, "You don’t have to have my life, but you have to react to Jesus.”

It would be easy, but wrong, to write Shane off as a liberal or an activist who is simply pasting the message of Jesus over his own message. Somehow he has forged a middle ground between liberal activist and right wing conservative. He manages to hold elements of both in tension with great humility and recognition of his own inner struggles. Shane says, “While most activists could use a good dose of gentleness (after all, it is a fruit of the Spirit), I think most believers could use a good dose of holy anger.”

I was challenged and convicted by many things said in the book, and believe it is well worth your time to read. Perfect? No. There were a few things that gave me pause (and not some of the ones that gave others people pause). But all-in-all this was a good read. I don't necessarily agree with all of his conclusions (I don't necessarily agree with all of my own conclusions), but I can't disagree with his commitment to live out an expression of the faith that echoes the Old Testament Prophets (established orders didn't like them much either...critiquing their theology and commitment to the nation).

I think the point is don't live Shane's life...live his commitment to living out Jesus' life. Or, maybe just start asking the hard questions of how you can more fully life out Jesus' life for yourself. I know I am, and it is never easy.

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