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The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne

Here’s one of the best books of the year, The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. What one reviewer says: From dressing the wounds of lepers in Calcutta to living among the homeless in Philadelphia to visiting families in Iraq, social activist Claiborne strives to live an au…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Here’s one of the best books of the year, The
Irresistible Revolution
by Shane Claiborne. What one reviewer says:

From dressing the wounds of lepers in Calcutta to living among the homeless in Philadelphia
to visiting families in Iraq,
social activist Claiborne strives to live an authentic Christian life. In his
view, he is a radical in the truest sense of the word, returning to the roots
of Christianity by living as Jesus did and doing “small things with great

A partner-founder of the Philadelphia-based faith
community the Simple Way,
he presents an evangelical Christianity gentler and more inclusive than is
usually seen, especially in the mass media. He describes Simple Way as a new culture that relies
on radical interdependence and consists of grassroots organizations,
intentional communities, and hospitality houses. Although the book isn’t an
autobiography, in it Claiborne reports much about his life: growing up in the
Bible Belt, becoming a Jesus freak, moving to Philadelphia despite his family’s misgivings,
and helping the homeless there.

Then he boldly requested an internship with Mother
Teresa in Calcutta.
She simply responded, “Come.” Besides illuminating his own faith
journey, Claiborne is insightful on the huge U.S. cultural and economic divide:
the problem isn’t that wealthy Christians don’t care about the poor, he says,
it’s that they simply don’t know the poor. A moving, often humorous account of
a life of faith lived to the fullest.
June Sawyers, Booklist

The book is full of great insights. I found myself using a highlighter. I found myself saying “amen!” to passages
like this one, “I can remember when Christianity was still safe, comfortable,
trendy. I must have gotten born again
six or eight times. Preachers were
telling me to lay my life down at the foot of the cross, but weren’t giving me
anything to pick up. I had become a ‘believer,’ but I had no idea how to become a follower. People had taught me what Christians believe,
but no one had taught me how Christians live.”

Shane lives down the street from our AIM base in Philadelphia. We love what his little community stands for and lives out. I’m going to use a few upcoming blogs to explore some of Claiborne’s themes.

Check out: 

Comments (10)

  • I love this book and am looking forward to your blogging insights! Talk about being ‘wrecked for the ordinary…”

  • Seth,

    Great resource here. I just read a chapter of the book and found it to be very refreshing.

    On that note, I wanted to share a challanging quote that is relevent to your ambission of discipleship.

    Shane writes, “The concept of multidimensional discipleship is essential as we consider how to retain a radical discipleship that is multiethnic, intergenerational, and includes singles and families. Otherwise we will just end up surrounded by people who look like us, think like us, and respond to the gospel in exactly the same way we do.”

    The validity and richness of this blog and more generally the work of AIM will grow immensely when both are able to engage and serve individuals coming from a variety of backgrounds. More importantly, it is imperative that the result of this engagement is not the creation of like-minded individuals who are afraid to think differently, but rather that through this process of engagement people are liberally encouraged to respond to the gospel in their own unique, culturally determined way.”

    Another probing question posed in the book was: “We’ve all heard the saying , “Give someone a fish and they’ll eat for a day, but teach them to fish and they’ll eat for the rest of their life.” But our friend John Perkins challenges us to go farther. He say, “The problem is that nobody is asking who owns the pond or who polluted it.”

  • I’ve read this book twice in the past couple of months and it has pretty much ruined me. I want to live that kind of life so bad.

  • very concerning… twisted doctrine and half truthes. there is but on that is good, and this is Jesus… (See quotes from the Lord when discussing with the Rich Man in Matthew)… Good works are not going to get us to hevan and NO where in the bible are we commanded to give up all we have and follow HIM.. Giving and working with the poor is no higher calling than obeying God and helping the broken hearted , divorced, etc… All of our works are as dirty rags.. No one comes to the Father but thru faith, and faith alone.. We are not judge on how we do for the poor.. That is false doctrine..

  • This person’s response is very defensive & irrational. I don’t think one thing that they said was even alluded to in your blog. Furthermore, I disagree on most of what they have to say anyways 🙂

    Faith, I am not quite sure what you are reacting to – for none of it Seth claimed to have professed in his writing (not that I agree with what you said.) However, in response to what you did have to say, I don’t think Seth ever would ever claim that works are what brings someone to Christ, but it is when our heart becomes broken in the ways in which Christ’s is broken, we will be filled with compassion – which, in turn, often leads us to the hurting and broken. In Shane’s case, it has been the poor of Philly, Calcutta, Iraq, and beyond. In other cases, as you mentioned, it is with the divorced – or those who are broken in other ways. What I find to be essential to our faith is that we DO respond to the heart of Christ in us. I find it impossible to believe that I would seek to live in such a way that imitates that of Jesus, and not have graceful works accompanying my personal faith journey.

    Check out Matthew 25..it’s worth a read in response to what you have to say. I think Jesus was quite clear in what it means to include “works” in our “faith.”

  • Be as wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove

    Following Jesus is a surrender of our will. Some may very well be called to work with the poor in Calcutta or Irag or Toronto. The problem that we have in Christianity today is that so many want to find the way to follow Jesus by following somebody else. The bible which all born again people should believe is the inerrant word of God calls us to follow Jesus in the surrendered life. After all it was Jesus who said anyone who seeks to save his life will lose it and anyone who loses his life for Christ will save it. We must be careful that we do not seek to follow the next guru or prophet. We must learn that the true Christian life as described in Romans is a struggle between the flesh, the devil and the world. The only victory that can be found is to surrender to what Jesus is working out in our lives in the process of transformation (sanctification). To pick up and follow a guru or spiritual leader will make your tranformation more reformation(work of the flesh) as opposed to santification (work of the spirit). This is the process of being made more and more like Christ as time goes on. Anything else is a work of the flesh and is but wood and stubble. Please work out your salvation with Jesus Christ not following someone who is doing good deeds that are great but not necessarily the call God has for your life. The Church of Jesus Christ is in place to support and encourage believers and all the more as the day of Lord draws near. The call is live out through a surrender of what we want to what Jesus calls us to do right where we are, so that the witness of our faith will be used by Holy Spirit to draw people into the Kingdom of God.

  • Dear Faith (post #7),
    Dear, dear, dear. Faith. What you have said is false doctrine. You say noone comes through the Father but through faith. Well in the Bible I read is says noone come to the Father except the Jesus Christ His Son. Please please please back up all statements with scripture. If you don’t believe what someone says that is fine but do NOT bash someone is backs up their words or actions with scripture.

    Thank you,

  • I just read about half of that book in the past few weeks and loved it as well. Looking forward to the fun you will have expanding on it!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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