Irresistible Revolution – book review

October 2, 2006

The Irresistible Revolution: living as an ordinary radical
Shane Claiborne
Zondervan: 2006

Shane Claiborne is an ordinary radical who is bringing the kingdom of God into the world through incredible love.  Claiborne is also a founding members of The Simple Way.

The Irresistible Revolution is a calling to become a follower of Jesus. Claiborne challenges us to leave behind shallow self-serving Christianity, and instead, enter into the work of establishing God’s kingdom.  We are called to be the Church, radically pursuing Jesus’ teachings in the everyday choices that we make.

Challenging the System – First, Claiborne gives us a clear call to discover what it means to follow Jesus.  He speaks against shallow, self serving faith, and seeks to discover what true Christianity.  When we come to Jesus, we both lay down our
burdens as well as pick up our cross.  “God comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable” (p. 107) and Claiborne asks what it looks like for modern Christians to “shout the gospel with their lives” (p. 127). 

The Issues – Second, Claiborne challenges the systems within society that need redemption.  He challenges us to reform the role of mammon in our lives, and asserts that followers of Jesus should seek for an equal distribution of wealth.  He speaks against violence of all kinds, offers creative suggestions for standing against violence in our world.  Finally, he reminds us that our loyalty and our allegiance are to the Church, and not to our country, and that love should not be held back by borders.

The Irresistible Revolution – Finally, Claiborne speaks about how this revolution will overtake the world. Through radical love, many will come to find their Lover, and God’s kingdom will gently redeem all nations.  By living as true followers of Jesus, our fire will burn so brightly that people will wonder what
sets us apart and will be drawn to Christ.

This book is messing me up.  Everything is fine if you just smile and nod along with Claiborne’s book, but as soon as you take his story seriously and ask what it would look like to radically follow Jesus, things start to get messy.  Claiborne offers two  alternatives, you either go after Jesus with everything you’ve got,
or you are luke warm.  Beautifully Claiborne inspires his reader to a vibrant, action based faith that draws you to the heart of God.

Claiborne’s life takes his theology to the logical endpoint.  And yet, how do I, as a leader of a traditional church, live this out? Is the only way to follow Jesus the lifestyle that Claiborne advocates? I don’t think so, but I don’t really know what the alternatives are.  At the very least, the church needs to rethink what we are calling people to when we speak about Christianity.  There must be more to faith that showing up on Sunday mornings and getting into heaven.  We should not exist to serve ourselves, but to love others in a radical new way.  The Church must train people to be followers of Jesus and to help people develop a passion for loving others, and hopefully, in our small acts of love, God will be able to reclaim the world.  


One Response to “Irresistible Revolution – book review”

  1. Hey if you’re a fan of Shane Claiborne and his book, then you should really check out the Another World is Possible DVD series. It’s a multimedia project by Shane Claiborne and Jamie Moffett (co-founders of the Simple Way) that emerged in response to their belief that things are not right in the world, and that they don’t have to stay that way. There are three DVD’s, one on war, one on poverty, and one on creation. You can find out more about them at

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