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Vote for Jesus this presidential election

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  The presidential election season is on us, God help us all.  So now we have four months of nonstop Obama & McCain.  Lovely.  Who do you as a follower of Christ pick? Do you pick the lesser of two evils? Well, this is not a political blog and I’m not going to advise…
By Seth Barnes
 
The presidential election season is on us, God help us all.  So now we have four months of nonstop Obama & McCain.  Lovely.  Who do you as a follower of Christ pick? Do you pick the lesser of two evils? Well, this is not a political blog and I’m not going to advise you. Clinton ran on big government and balanced the budget and got rid of welfare, while Bush ran on small government and ran up the debt and boosted Medicare.  A pox on all their houses, I say. Jesus was studiously apolitical. His followers, particularly the media pundits, who major on politics as a first priority in shepherding their flocks, have taken a wrong turn somewhere.

In his new book Jesus for President, Shane Claiborne challenges the church to not just ask “Who should I vote for?” but “How should I live?”  Ever since Claiborne came out with the Irresistible Revolution, I’ve been a fan. Frankly, the subject of politics is depressing enough that I don’t recommend you rush out and buy this book.  But if you’ve prioritized the political Jesus over Jesus the radical, then Claiborne will help you recalibrate.  Check out this book review:

Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw rocked my theological and political boat. I was offended, amused, and inspired. The authors compare America to imperial Rome of the first and second centuries and call Christians to live in stark contrast to the ways of the world.


The book begins by telling the tale of Israel, a “peculiar people” who are set apart from the ways of the world. Claiborne examines Hebrew culture, citing distinct rites and customs, such as the Jewish practice of Jubilee, a redistribution of wealth that would remedy the evils of modern capitalism.

History, Claiborne argues, has been plagued with the unnatural human tendency to want a king of this world, instead of allowing God to reign supreme. The crux of the book is that Jesus came to earth to fulfill the role of a messiah, which in itself is a political role, but he did it in a counter-political way. That is, he embraced politics that were contrary to the ways of Rome, religious authorities, or even popular culture. And he was hated and killed for it.

As followers of Christ, we must be careful not to embrace a political paradigm that opposes Jesus’ “platform” – love your enemies, bless those who persecute you, live simply, give what you have to the poor, and die for those who hate you.

lambOne of the most fascinating sections was the comparison of the coronation of a Roman caesar to Jesus’ crucifixion (his own morbid version of a coronation). Both included a crown, scepter, robe, procession that led to the top of a hill, and a sacrifice.

Claiborne and Haw cite the history of the Early Church, going from a rag-tag group of radicals to a formal institution. The authors criticize Constantine’s “conversion” and the violence that accompanied the “Holy” Roman Empire. They suggest that the kingdom of God has and always will directly contradict any system that humankind can invent. Thus, when powers of church and state are consolidated, the kingdom of God is compromised. More comparisons between the Roman Empire and the “empire” of the U.S.A. are made, and the authors challenge the reader to go beyond just buying free-trade coffee or wearing a piece of Product Red to fight the evils of worker oppression.

This new way to live out Christian politics includes doing everything possible to not pay taxes, use up fossil fuels, or take advantage of the poor. Claiborne wonders what it would mean for the world to see Christians as a group that made their own clothes, lived amongst the poor, rescued food from the dumpsters, neither voted Republican nor Democrat, and didn’t even watch TV.

The book challenges us to continue learning compassion for the poor, to not just accept right-wing politics as the best worldly alternative to the kingdom of God, and to realize that my economic and political decisions are, in fact, theological decisions, as well – each with its own consequence that will directly or indirectly the people for whom Christ also died to save.

Read the rest of the review here.

What are your thoughts? Is this wisdom or naievete?

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