taking the words of Jesus seriously

It started in 2004 as a little Bible study looking at the political implications of Jesus’ teaching and the social dimensions of the gospel. Four years later, during the 2008 presidential election, I published a book with Chris Haw called “Jesus for President” and took the movement out on a national tour, traveling through nearly every U.S. state in a bus that ran on waste vegetable oil, hosting packed-out rallies in different cities each night.

We had some solid ideas for serious change in America back then. Like putting the Amish in charge of Homeland Security and melting all of our weapons into garden tools and enacting the biblical year of Jubilee, where property is redistributed and financial debts are forgiven. We were dead serious about some of those ideas (and still are).

A lot has changed since 2008. A lot has changed since 2016. Heck, a lot has changed since last month, and week and day.

One thing that has not changed is that Christians still have a hard time knowing how to engage with politics, especially during an election year.

Some Christians ignore politics altogether, preferring to focus on matters like saving souls and getting people into heaven. They often quote Scripture about how our “citizenship is in heaven” and insist that this world is not our home. Politics don’t belong in the pulpit, they say (unless it’s abortion or marriage equality). Jesus didn’t come to overthrow Caesar and take over Rome, but to establish an altogether new kingdom that is not of this world. So it goes.

Another group of Christians has totally bought into partisan politics and married itself to these Christians’ favorite candidate or party. If they are evangelicals, that usually means the Republican Party. As my friend the Rev. Tony Campolo says: “Mixing our faith with a political party is sort of like mixing ice cream with cow manure. It doesn’t mess up the manure, but it sure messes up the ice cream.”

More recently, I have become familiar with the progressive version of the savior complex; it still messes up the ice cream.

Read the full article where it originally appeared on Religion News Service.

About The Author


Shane Claiborne is a best-selling author, renowned activist,
 sought-after speaker, and self-proclaimed “recovering sinner.” Shane writes and speaks around the world about peacemaking, social justice, and Jesus, and is the author of several books, 
including "The Irresistible Revolution," "Jesus for President," "Executing Grace," "Beating Guns," and his newest book, "Rethinking Life (released in Feb 2023)." He is the visionary leader of The Simple Way in Philadelphia and co-director of Red Letter Christians. His work has been featured in Fox News, Esquire, SPIN, TIME, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, and CNN.

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