All at once, gathering on my desk of books, is a four-volume collection about public issues — and I could call this post the four evangelical horsemen riding into the American scene with ideas about how Jesus can help our politics. Here they are:
Shane Claiborne, along with Chris Haw, have written a brand new book called Jesus for President. When Publisher’s Weekly calls this the “must-read election-year book for Christian Americans,” it is worth getting some attention on the blog. The subtitle is politics for ordinary radicals and it’s got all kinds of cool things … too many to name, but I have to mention one: instead of a normal listed bibliography, they’ve got pictures of books on a shelf with the titles and authors on the spines of the books. It’s cool. Jesus is the Ultimate Radical and the authors push back against Constantinianism. Classic anabaptist, community life, be an alternative community … Shane Claiborne kind of stuff. I predict this will be a potent book for the next few months or longer.
Ronald J. Sider’s newest book is called The Scandal of Evangelical Politics. His subtitle: Why are Christians missing the chance to really change the world? Sider’s complaint is that evangelicals have not constructed a biblical framework for social engagement. This veteran counter-cultural evangelical statesman brings it all together in this book, and once again I think this book will make a big impact. What is the problem? Christians have compromised when entering the political fray. Everything we’ve ever had from Sider is found here: an even-handed vision of how Christians can engage society, politics and cultural in a way that is true to Jesus.
Tony Campolo has now brought out a citizen’s guide to faith and politics: Red Letter Christians. 20 chapters; global issues and hot-button issues and economic issues and government issues. Once again, all addressed through the lens — and one is here reminded of McLaren’s book Everything Must Change — of Jesus’ teachings, those red letter verses in the Bible. Full of stories; aware of sociological studies; engaged with culture; this book is vintage Campolo. Tony tells his own story in this book about how he himself changed from being a nationalist to a Red Letter Christian.
Finally, Jim Wallis’ new book, The Great Awakening, needs to be mentioned here to round off our four apocalyptic evangelical democrat horsemen. I didn’t like Jim’s last book, God’s Politics, because it was too much of a scrapbook of where he’d been and what he’d said. The Great Awakening is a true book, in vintage Wallis line, but this one is about the revival of people with moral courage seek common ground to speak into the Western world with biblical prophetic courage. Like Campolo, he’s addressing the serious issues of our day.