Who was Jesus? And how was this first-century political revolutionary, whose teachings are meant to lead the way to freedom, turned into a meek and mild servant of the status quo? How is it possible to profess a belief in Jesus, yet ignore the suffering of the poor and the needy? Just how truly faithful to the vision of Jesus are the many politicians who claim to be Christian? These are the kinds of questions Obery Hendricks, a biblical scholar, activist, and minister, asks in this provocative new book. In this day and age of heated political debate, Hendricks’s The Politics of Jesus stands out as much for its brilliant re-creation of the life and mind of Jesus of Nazareth as for its scathing critique of modern politicians “of faith.”
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 2006 Reed Business Information.