Shane Claiborne: Faith as Fuel for World Change

“We do have a real spiritual crisis in America, because there’s a lot of things that are camouflaging themselves as Christian, but they don’t look very Christ-like.”

Shane Claiborne

Season 2, Episode 6 of Messy Jesus Business, hosted by Sister Julia Walsh



In Season 2, Episode 6 of Messy Jesus Business, Sister Julia Walsh talks with Shane Claiborne, a best-selling author, speaker and activist. They discuss what it means to be a peacemaker while living in one of the world’s most heavily armed countries, with a monumental gun death toll.

“Violence is one of those demons that goes back to our very foundations in our country,” Claiborne says.

“This country is almost unthinkable without our guns. How do you take land from other people? How do you subjugate entire people that you enslaved? That’s the historic backdrop, and I don’t think that has to hold us hostage, but surely we’ve got to be truthful about that,” Claiborne explains.

Claiborne says the U.S. has 5% of the world’s population, but almost half of the world’s guns, and poses the question, “What would Jesus, the Prince of Peace, be saying right now?”

Sister Julia and Shane Claiborne also discuss the importance of remaining joyful and hopeful, even when surrounded by the pain of the world.

“I like how Karl Barth said we need to read the bible in one hand, but we need to hold the newspaper in the other….so that our faith doesn’t just become a ticket into heaven and a license to ignore the world we live in, but our faith should actually fuel us to want to change the world,” Claiborne says.

In addition, they discuss the importance of community, and the messiness that comes from the Christian veneer of perfection.

“A lot of the times we sort of act like the church is a country club for saints, rather than a hospital for sinners.” Claiborne says honesty can help manage the resulting mess. He remembers walking into a church where greeters wore shirts that said, “No perfect people allowed.”

“If that was greeting every person coming into every church, it would give you a sense of reality, like this is a home for you even if you don’t have it all together…our wounds are not our liabilities, they are our credentials.”

He adds, “Honesty can show this Gospel is not for the Righteous, but for the sinner.”


Learn more about the Red Letter Christians movement, headed by Shane Claiborne, by exploring their website.

To read more about how Shane Claiborne’s work influenced Sister Julia, check out this Messy Jesus Business blog post: A Visit to The Simple Way.


Shane Claiborne is a prominent speaker, activist, and best-selling author. He worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, and founded The Simple Way in Philadelphia. He leads Red Letter Christians, a movement of folks who are committed to living “as if Jesus meant the things he said.” Claiborne is a champion for grace which has led him to jail advocating for the homeless, and to places like Iraq and Afghanistan to stand against war. Now grace fuels his passion to end the death penalty and help stop gun violence.

Claiborne’s books include, “Jesus for President,” “Red Letter Revolution,” “Common Prayer,” “Follow Me to Freedom,” “Jesus, Bombs and Ice Cream,” “Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers,” “Executing Grace,” his classic: “The Irresistible Revolution,” and his newest book: “Beating Guns”. He has been featured in a number of films including, “Another World Is Possible” and “Ordinary Radicals.” His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Shane speaks more than a hundred times a year, nationally and internationally. His work has appeared in Esquire, SPIN, Christianity Today, TIME, and The Wall Street Journal, and he has been on everything from Fox News and Al Jazeera to CNN and NPR. He’s given academic lectures at Harvard, Princeton, Liberty, Duke, and Notre Dame.

Shane speaks regularly at denominational gatherings, festivals, and conferences around the globe.

Click here to view Shane Claiborne’s author page and his books available on Amazon.


Our Contemplative Moment in this episode of Messy Jesus Business is a reading from Isaiah 2:2-5.

MESSY JESUS BUSINESS is produced, hosted and edited by Sister Julia Walsh with production assistance from Charish Badzinski.

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