Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Jim Wallis at His Best

Wallis.jpgI began reading Jim Wallis when I was in seminary, and of all his books, my favorite is his book The Call to Conversion
, which I consider to be a classic moral text for American Christianity. I’ve also enjoyed the lesser known Faith Works, but I found two of his recent books to be too much about politics and not enough vintage Jim Wallis.

But his newest book, Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street
, is a return to the themes and to the fire of his classical period of fighting for American Christians to cut back and help the poor and to take stock of how we live. This is the most personal of his books — the stories about his two boys and baseball and their night time prayers are priceless. It is also the most generous and pastorally sensitive. (Never mind that one of my (our) North Park students, Tim King, got to write The Epilogue.)
This books calls America, and Christians in America, to ask not “How can we recover our economy?” or “How can we get back to way things were?”, but to ask “How can this economic crisis change us?” and “What can communities of faith do about it?” Wallis fears that we want to go back to the way things were, but the way things were got built on sandy foundations and reckless speculation and spending. Instead, in this book he calls us back to the values that can make a society strong and a church a witness to God’s justice and peace.


Like Tim Keller, Wallis thinks the decades leading up to our economic crisis were rooted in idolatry, where greed was good, where it was all about me, and where the idea of “I want it now” ruled the day. Instead, we need to begin to see when enough is enough, that we’re all in this together, and that we need to think of what life here will be like seven generations from now (as American Indians did).
So, Wallis probes ideas that can make a difference, like recommitting ourselves to family cultures and to the deeper meaning of work.
This book closes with twenty moral exercises, including the idea that calendars and family budgets are moral documents and that we need to measure our “screen” time over against our family time. The book returns to one of Jim’s earliest themes: the value of simplicity in life.
This is Jim Wallis at his best, now softened and measured by his family life. I’ve become a fan of Jim Wallis again.
Comments read comments(6)
post a comment

posted December 28, 2009 at 6:05 am

Thank you. The only book that I’ve ever read by him was “God’s Politics.” As the word “screed” started to come to my mind, I put it down and never could finish it. I would like to believe in this man and your review encourages me to do just that.

report abuse

Jim Martin

posted December 28, 2009 at 10:11 am

Scot, glad you posted this review. I have heard good things about Wallis for many years. What you say in this post reaffirms what I have heard. What you found in this book is more like what I was hopping to find in his last book.
I look forward to reading it.

report abuse


posted December 28, 2009 at 10:23 am

This is the perfect time for such a book. Right now “cutting back” is the in thing, even for those not directly suffering from the economic climate.
If we can, as a society, or at least as the Western church, decide not to fulfill our every desire and live off credit, perhaps we can change the shape of our world.

report abuse


posted December 28, 2009 at 1:17 pm

I was a long time subscriber to Wallis’ Soujourners magazine until recently. Although I lean in his direction politically, one of the reasons I stopped subscribing is that some of what he has been promoting on “Wall Street ethics” post-economic crisis was too simplistic, and demonstrated a lack of understanding of how things work (e.g., along the lines of the concerns raised in Michael Kruse’s posts on this blog). There were clearly moral issues at the center of the crisis, but I haven’t come across a religious leader that really understands them, or that has been able to address them in a practical way that could help business leaders going forward. It is one thing to encourage individuals and faith communities as Wallis does. But it takes a greater depth of understanding of the issues to address the interface between an individual and the larger business culture, and the questions that arise. Has anyone come across someone who can effectively address these issues?

report abuse


posted December 28, 2009 at 7:04 pm

Many years ago I also subscribed to Sojourners magazine, but got fed up with a consistent political viewpoint. Ironically, I heard him at a conference one time talking about putting principle over politics. Just the opposite, I see Wallis with a consistent political viewpoint from the Left, and in bed with the Democratic Party. Wallis also seems to love the limelight, as he has cozied up to the Obama administration. Question: Why is it that Ron Sider doesn’t get more attention with books like Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, and more recently, The Scandal of Evangelical Politics? Methinks it’s because Sider dares to cross the political divide and sign things like the Manhattan Declaration — a big Religious Left no-no; but he’s also able to work with many on the Religious Left on issues such as poverty, creation care and racial reconciliation. It’s too bad more Christian leaders can’t hold a consistently pro-life and traditional marriage viewpoint while also working on the other pet issues

report abuse

len hjalmarson

posted January 12, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Call to Conversion was outstanding, as was Agenda for Biblical People. Both of these books shaped my early years as a disciple. This quote from the latter..
“Thus, the renewal of the church will come not through a recovery of personal experience or straight doctrine, nor through innovative projects of evangelism or social action, nor in creative techniques or liturgical worship, nor in the gift of tongues, nor in new budgets, new buildings, and new members. The renewal of the church will come about through the work of the Spirit in restoring and reconstituting the church as a local community whose common life bears the marks of radical obedience to the lordship of Jesus Christ.” (101)

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog ...

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the ...

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: ...

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's ...

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or ...

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.