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 (georgepwood)
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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Contents: 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 ...