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"The Lamb's Agenda," Rev. Samuel Rodriguez' manifesto for the role of the church in the next great awakening , is analyzed in this brief review. April 2, 2013
Rodriguez, Samuel. (2013).The lamb’s agenda: why Jesus is calling you to a life of righteousness and justice. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 233 pp., ISBN: 978-1-4002-0449-6 (p.cm.). $15.99
Reviewed by Daniel F. Flores, Sociedad Wesleyana, USA
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is perhaps the most recognizable personality of the Hispanic evangelical church in America. He has been interviewed and quoted by the media giants of print Washington Post and New York Times as well as electronic news services CNN, Fox News, and Univision. Rev. Rodriguez is a known entity on Capitol Hill in both legislative houses and well-acquainted with the President and First Lady. As President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, he is a commanding presence whether speaking to the National Association of Evangelicals, the Martin Luther King Center, T.D. Jakes’ Potter’s House, television news programs or elected government officials. It is no wonder there is for the high enthusiasm for publication of his latest book, The Lamb’s Agenda.
Rodriguez describes himself as a Hispanic Evangelical pastor consisting of an amalgamation of Billy Graham and Martin Luther King “with salsa on top.” An advocate of cultural assimilation, he does not flaunt his Latinidad without purpose. Rather, he successfully parlays his ethnic identity for speaking truth to power where may otherwise not be heard. Anyone who is familiar with his “donkey-elephant” rhetoric will quickly recognize this book as his personal manifesto for faith in politics. While maintaining party neutrality, he is a conservative critical both of big government and President Obama. Does that mean Rodriguez is a Republican? Maybe. If so, he is a self-critical of the failures of the Republican Party as being “too male, too old, and too white.” However, he is openly appreciative of the grass-roots Tea Party Movement. His only negative, whimsical remark of them is that “a party without chips and salsa is not a party at all.”
The book is not only about politics. It is also has a strong religious theme that is decidedly Pentecostal. He believes in the existence of the evil spirits in the world described using biblical allusions of Jezebel, Absalom, and Herod. These spirits influence society by inciting sexual perversion, division, abortion, and poverty. Although this is a departure from classical Pentecostalism, it does suggest his openness to Charismatic “Kingdom” teachings. Relying chiefly on secondary sources and commentary of popular writers, he captures sound bites from leaders of the Great Awakenings and reframes them as proof for the potential of a Third Great Awakening. How will this happen? His formula for awakening is a cruciform social reconciliation where the vertical (God-human relations) converge with the horizontal (human relations) using the teachings of Jesus as our guide. The resultant nexus will result in unprecedented spiritual revival and economic prosperity. But Rodriguez explains that this cannot occur until America returns to the biblical standards embraced by the Founding Fathers. He identifies as threats to his utopian vision same-sex marriages, abortion, human trafficking, racism, and the broken immigration system. He wisely distances himself from homophobia and xenophobia, citing the importance of civil rights for all citizens. In practice Rodriguez supports comprehensive immigration reform. It is therefore puzzling for read that he falls short of advocating political action. Rather, he enjoins compassionate ministries to undocumented immigrants. “Let Uncle Sam enforce immigration laws while we embrace a church that reaches the lost for Christ.”
The Lamb’s Agenda is not intended to be an academic book. The bibliography does not reflect serious research but closely resemble Google sources. It is evident that this book was written in the idiom of the common church-going person to provoke engagement in the political arena. The sermonic style is as engaging and provocative in print as Rev. Rodriguez is in person. It definitely carries his prophetic voice and the wisdom of a Washington insider. It invites the reader to probe deeper into critical social issues facing Americans. Although much of the content rehearses Rodriguez’ public discourses on societal sins, this is not a true jeremiad. His tone remains hopeful and positive. He avoids pronouncing doom, but offers God’s blessing to those who will heed his message. What may be difficult for his non-evangelical readership to embrace is his pervasive belief that Hispanic evangelical leaders are destined to transform American Christianity by permeating the evangelical, mainline, and historic churches. Presumably, those outside the Christian faith will also benefit from the nation’s return to biblical Kingdom principles.
Daniel F. Flores, Sociedad Wesleyana.
Review by Daniel F. Flores
Is There a Divine Cure for Our Ailing Nation?
In The Lamb’s Agenda Samuel Rodriguez offers a blueprint for Christian rejuvenation, a prophetic call to orient our lives at the nexus of the cross.
Joining the Christianity of Martin Luther King Jr. and Billy Graham, The Lamb’s Agenda reveals the crucial connection between biblical social justice and spiritual righteousness. Getting back to the basics of Christianity means extending our efforts simultaneously in the vertical direction of God and the horizontal direction of our neighbors.In this critical moment, begrudging service and empty religiosity must be replaced by the vibrancy of the Lamb’s agenda, Christ’s plan of redemption in the world. A Third Great Awakening, says Rodriguez, awaits Christians who boldly and joyfully embrace both planks of the Savior’s cross: obedience to God and service to others.
|Publication Date||April 2, 2013|