A Review of
Changing the World
With Revolutionary Compassion.
Baker Books, 2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]
Reviewed by Chris Smith.
Vince Antonucci is scheduled to be one of the speakers for the North American Christian Convention this summer, and I had heard that his church was doing some creative work in Las Vegas, a city typically recognized as resistant to Christianity, so I was interested to see what he had to say in his newest book Guerrilla Lovers: Changing the World with Revolutionary Compassion. I found Guerrilla Lovers to be a fun, yet challenging read; Antonucci writes in a very conversational style and is an engaging storyteller, very humorous and culturally-engaged. He takes following Jesus and loving our neighbors very seriously, even when this calling goes against the grain of American culture. Antonucci’s vision of our call to be “guerrilla lovers” is a radical call to friendship that bids us enter into the sufferings of others. His use of the imagery of “guerrilla tactics” reminded me of Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s use of similar language in his recent book God’s Economy. Antonucci, can be a bit of a “shock jock” lobbing bold and shocking statements and then after he has raised the hackles of his readers, he eventually clarifies what he means. For instance, one such hook that caught me was his statement:
“Want to really live the Christian life?
Want to impact the world through guerrilla love?
Then you must stop living in community!” (150).
He eventually clarifies that what he means by community here is the sort of insulated tribalism that he mocks as “huddle-and-cuddle Christianity.” This sort of community stands in contrast to the communitas (“a life-altering adventure we can engage in together”), he observes, to which we are called in Christ. Once I caught my breath and picked my gaping chin up from the floor, I found that I was very much in agreement with his point here.
While I don’t always agree with the broader theological framework in which he works – he is a thoroughgoing evangelical – I do believe that Anotnucci makes some crucial points here in Guerrilla Lovers, which in my opinion represents evangelicalism at its very finest, more concerned about sharing the love of Jesus with our neighbors than about moralism or political agendas. I hope and pray that the message of Guerrilla Lovers takes root in evangelical churches and that God continues to mold us all – evangelical or otherwise – back into the simple way of the Gospel, loving God and loving our neighbors, a message that is the very heart of Antonucci’s work in Guerrilla Lovers.
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com