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A Clarion Call to Focus Anew on Jesus

  • Aug 2, 2010
The American church suffers from what Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola call "Jesus Deficit Disorder." Instead of paying sustained attention to him, she focuses on substitute issues such as "justice," "morality," "values," and "leadership principles." In Jesus Manifesto, Sweet and Viola call the church back to her "first love."

I appreciated three things about this book:

First, its biblical grounding: Chapter 1, "The Occupation of All Things," demonstrates from Scripture that the heavens, all creation, and both testaments of Scripture are "occupied with Christ." The only way we can read the Bible and not focus on Jesus is by misreading it.

Second, its personal orientation: Chapter 5, "A Ditch on Either Side," examines and critiques "two popular approaches to following Jesus among Christians today... (1) theological rationalism and (2) theological ethics." When we reduce Christianity to what we believe or how we behave, we subtly move the focus off of Jesus. Who we follow matters most. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6).

Third, its relational ethic: Chapter 3, "If God Wrote Your Biography," argues, "From the viewpoint of God, your biography is Jesus Christ." The Christian life is not about rules, but about relationship. We change when we are "in Christ" and in Christian community, which is "the body of Christ."

Much else could be said about this book, including a few points of critique. Overall, however, Jesus Manifesto is a clarion call to the American church to focus anew on her Savior and Lord.

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About the reviewer
George Paul Wood ()
Ranked #262
I'm happily married to a maximally perfect woman, and we have a baby cuter than which none can be imagined. For a living, I'm the Director of Ministerial Resourcing at AG HQ in Springfield, MO. … more
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About this book


The Christian church is falling apart and in desperate need of a revival. According to professor Sweet (The Church in Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives) and bestselling author Viola (From Eternity to Here), £what is lacking is a groundbreaking revelation of Christ that boggles the mind and enraptures the heart.¥ Expanding on the authorsÖ 2009 online manifesto, this insistent, impassioned essay condemns as pharisaic those preachers who forgo a Christ-centered theology in favor of a cute, singular slogan or mission. The authors urge churches to focus on the man who embodies the entire religion. To do so, readers must learn the subtle distinction between following Christ and realizing Christ already lives within them. Some may find this message controversial, even pantheistic. Yet the biblical passages show the message is rooted in Scripture. The authors provide a lot to digest, but quotations from poets and philosophers break up the text and help readers grasp abstract concepts. Though most applicable to pastors and seminarians, all Christian readers will discover a new perspective and deeper purpose.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Contents --
Introduction: "Who do you say that I am?" --
The occupation of all things --
A bottle in the ocean --
If God wrote your biography --
A violin called messiah --
A ditch on either side --
His face or your face? --
A collision of two ...
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ISBN-10: 0849946018
ISBN-13: 978-0849946011
Author: Leonard Sweet
Genre: Religion & Spirituality, Nonfiction
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
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