Pledging Allegiance

In his 2006 book, The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne urged us to be careful what we pray for, because God may call us to live it out—often in profound ways. A new generation of Christians was called to action by the testimony of this ordinary radical, social activist, and founding member of the Simple Way community in Phila­delphia. “We need more of the prophetic imagination that can interrupt violence and oppression,” he wrote.

Jesus for Presi­dent: Poli­tics for Ordi­nary Radicals, by Clai­borne and Chris Haw, is evidence of that imagination, and that prophetic message still rings true. Their call—that as Christians we are to be politically and socially engaged, with Christ as our central “candidate”—is relevant for readers of all ages and denominations.

It’s easy during an emotionally charged election season to draw sharp party lines. Claiborne and Haw—who with his wife, Cassie, belongs to an intentional community in Camden, New Jersey—call us to rise above the divisive politics and embrace our shared history and future. “Being born again radically dissolves affection for national borders,” they write. “Maybe it’s time for Christians all over the world to lay down the flags of their nations and together raise the banner of God. The Christian icon is not the Stars and Stripes but a cross-flag, and its emblem is not a donkey, an elephant, or an eagle but a slaughtered lamb.”

Claiborne and Haw tackle many of the tough issues that so often direct evangelical voters. Rather than insist all Christians identify with a common perspective on marriage equality and abortion rights, for example, we would be better served “to create communities in the church in which people can find intimacy and love rather than split congregations over issues.”

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Sojourners Magazine April 2008
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