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The Politics of Jesus : Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus' Teachings and How They Have Been Corrupted Hardcover – August 29, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Thundering like a biblical prophet against social and economic injustice, racism and political deceit ("Jesus did not establish a bureaucratic institution, weekly social gatherings, or houses of religious entertainment"), Hendricks, professor of biblical interpretation at New York Theological Seminary, proclaims Jesus as a political revolutionary who overturned the unjust social policies of his day. Rather unoriginally, Hendricks suggests that Jesus employed seven political strategies (e.g., "treat people's needs as holy"; "give a voice to the voiceless"; "expose the workings of oppression") in his challenge to the status quo. With cunning insight, however, Hendricks fervently examines the politics of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush—two U.S. presidents who have professed to be following the politics of Jesus—and argues that these leaders fall woefully short of living out Jesus' message of justice, righteousness and steadfast love. Hendricks also indicts church leaders for their complicity with these political figures, condoning unjust wars and corrupt economic practices and not calling judgment on them in Jesus' prophetic voice. Overall, Hendricks echoes the call to Christian social justice that John Howard Yoder proclaimed over 30 years ago in his own book of the same title. (Aug. 29)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Evangelical activists claiming Jesus for the Republican Party have finally met a zealous challenger. Combining the skills of a theologian with those of a political analyst, Hendricks sees little evidence that today's Republican leaders are upholding the Gospel ideals Jesus once taught. Indeed, while Hendricks adduces from the New Testament numerous indications that Jesus championed the oppressed and challenged the powerful, he interprets recent political events as proof that President Bush and his Republican allies have done just the opposite. In the president's frequent professions of Christian faith, Hendricks hears only the echoes of the corrupt triumphalism that the Roman emperor Constantine long ago substituted for the true gospel message. Even many Bush voters may concede the justice of this skeptical critique of right-wing Republican claims clothed in religious rhetoric. But many will balk when Hendricks himself drapes the mantle of Christian sanctity around the policies of FDR and LBJ. Despite his excesses, however, Hendricks provides a corrective to the religious partisanship of the Right. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Religion (August 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385516649
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385516648
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #851,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Gerard D. Launay on October 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This volume is divided into two parts. First, is the construction of a viable framework for understanding Jesus' immediate political and social message. Second, is the measurement of Ronald Reagan's and George W. Bush's conduct in light of that framework. I give 5 stars for the first part for its objectivity but only 3 stars for the second because it reads
like so many anti-Bush books that have already been written.

Nevertheless, I do agree with the central thesis that many Christians misunderstand Jesus message...ask not what God can do for you, ask what you can do for God. And what people can do for God is "dedicate their entire being to struggling to bring the world in line with a vision of love, liberation, and justice" to all of humanity, including the dispossessed, the forgotten, and the hungry. In other words, Jesus was as concerned about an individual's citizenship on earth as an individual's
citizenship in heaven.

You might say that there is nothing new in this book. (After all, it is a restatement of well accepted principles of "liberationist theology") True, but I still recommend reading the volume because the author presents his arguments as well, if not better, than others who have argued logically from the new testament texts.

If every Christian read this book..and chose to follow Jesus revolutionary program, all of us would have a chance for a better world.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Adam Ericksen on November 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed the first part of this book. Professor Hendricks does a great job of helping us understand the Jewish roots of Jesus and how those roots influence Jesus' political confrontations with Rome. Whenever Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God/Heaven through parables or through prayer, he is firmly rooted in his Jewish heritage and he is being political. The early followers of Christ got this message when they proclaimed Jesus Lord, with the political implications that Caesar is not. Yes, Jesus was political and wanted to influence the whole world (including the political world) to be based on the Hebrew notions of justice, righteousness, and love. Five stars for the first part of the book.

The second part of the book takes a sad turn. I understand Professor Hendricks desire to be prophetic in his stance against Reagan and G.W. Bush, but I have some concerns. Throughout the book, Hendricks warns us against demonizing our opponents, but this is exactly what he seems to do to these presidents. Indeed, there are some truths to his critiques of Reagan and Bush, but even prophets must be careful, lest they become consumed by their own anger and hatred. Hendricks has such a hard time letting go of his animosity for Bush that by the conclusion of the book, he alludes that Bush will be damned to Hell.

I'm a liberal. I would agree that Reagan and Bush have made political mistakes and have not treated the needs of others as holy. I would also agree that the call to follow Christ means we should act quickly, but our quick actions should not be done out of anger against the oppressors, but out of compassion for the oppressed and the oppressor, for even the oppressors are human beings in need of love. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that the Christian goal is reconciliation based on justice, righteousness, and love. Unfortunately, I don't think reconciliation is possible with Professor Hendricks' approach.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By John Inman on October 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Regardless of your politics or religion, this book is thought provoking. If you are a "ditto head" you probably will not like that it will challenge your paradigm and push your buttons, but it is a challenge you should take on as should every other person concerned about greed, wealth accumulation, and the perversion of the teachings of Jesus. It even pushed some of my buttons but I needed to have my horizons expanded. I believe that a copy should be required reading for every religious and political figure in our world.

The theology and research behind this book is outstanding and I suspect that it will generate the types of conversations that we should start having in our places of worship and in our political circles. Do you really know why you are a conservative or a liberal? I though I was well educated on political topics but here I was enlightened. My son and our pastor are going to read next and we are going to use as the foundation of a theological conversation to broaden understanding of how we can focus on helping those in the world who are the least among us. How anyone can find fault with this is beyond me. Read this book. Be prepared to create learning conversations around the book. We need to have this book be a catalyst to guide our actions in light of the teachings of this great man we as Christians call Christ. All I can say in summary is thank you Obery for one of the most important works of our time.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful By S. J. Berry on September 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is not the usual "my-side-is right/their-side-is-wrong" book. Obery Hendricks assesses conservatives, liberals, politicians, and Christian leaders against the same criteria, a criterion based on the politics of Jesus. Hendricks details the politics, economics, and religion that influenced Jesus ministry and politics. He outlines the political strategies Jesus used to affect a corrupt political and religious leadership and structure, and to address injustice and oppression. Hendricks reminds us of and introduces us to individuals and peoples that successfully used those strategies to fight for justice and empower the powerless. Then Hendricks does what many refuse or fail to do, he challenges the reader to hold those leaders/groups who claim to act as agents of God/Jesus/right to the standards they herald. This book is educational, enlightening, and moving. It enlists the reader to demand accountability from government, and to engage in a new and different dialog!
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