Monday, May 31, 2010

Jesus Manifesto -- Who is Jesus?

Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ
Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola have published a new book entitled the Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ.  (Nelson, 2010).  I received an advance copy, with the proviso that I would, at the very least, on this day, put up their statement about the book's release (see the bottom of the page).

I have yet to read the book, beyond the Introduction, so a review is not yet available from my pen.  But, from that introduction, I deduce that the authors, one a Methodist Historian and Professor of Evangelism at Drew University and the other a conference speaker and author, wish to reclaim the centrality of Christ to the message of the Christian faith.

In the introduction they note that there was a time when the church failed to take seriously the humanity of Jesus, but now in many sectors it is the opposite.  They seek to offer a third way, between left and right poles.  They call for a new engagement with Christology The degree to which they succeed remains to be seen (as I've not read the book to its conclusion). 

I offer a few excerpts from the intro to get a conversation going:

Christians have made the gospel about so many things -- things other than Christ.  But Jesus Christ is the gravitational pull that brings everything together and gives it meaning.  Without him, all things lose their value.  They are but detached pieces floating around in space.  That includes your life. (p. xxi).
And then they write:

So what is Christianity?  It is Christ.  Nothing more.  Nothing less. Christianity is not an ideology or a philosophy.  Neither is it a new type of morality, social ethic, or worldview.  Christianity is the "good news" that beauty, truth, and goodness are found in a person.  And true humanity and community are founded on and experienced by connection to that person. (p. xxii). 
The authors claim that the church suffers from a Jesus Deficit Disorder, so that other items and terms have replaced Jesus at the center of the conversation.  And so, they suggest that we return to the question Jesus posed to the disciples:  "Who do you say that I am?"  

As I said, I've not read the book so I can't comment on their positions, though from the endorsements by and large they come from evangelicals of some stripe or another.  But I think the question warrants a discussion -- who is Jesus for the church today?  Who is Christ for you?  Is he the center or is he not?  

 
Thomas Nelson is releasing a new book called Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. This book will be on special discount from Amazon.com on June 1st, the date of the release. You can learn more by going to www.theJesusManifesto.com. Endorsements by Rowan Williams, Matt Chandler, Calvin Miller, Ed Young, Jack Hayford, Shane Claiborne, Ed Stetzer, Reggie McNeal, Mark Batterson, Gregory Boyd, David Fitch, Steve Brown, Dan Kimball, Margaret Feinberg, Mark Chironna, Francis Frangipane, Todd Hunter, Alan Hirsch, Chris Seay, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Anne Jackson, Craig Keener, Ken Ulmer, Tommy Barnett, Sally Morgenthaler, and others.

5 comments:

Mike said...

Bob,

So where are you? As DOC aren't we the "Jesus is the Christ" folks?

I often asked ordination candidates "Who is Jesus Christ to you?".

If you don't like the evangelical endorsements, then give us your position.

Just wondering...Christian is in the name of the church we serve, isn't it?

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Mike,

I think you mistake my statement for disapproval. All I'm saying is that based on the endorsements, the perspective is an evangelical one. If your read that as criticism, then you've misread it.

I've not read the book, so I can't speak to it.

Mike said...

So..Christ is an evangelical position? I'm having a little fun and asking you to answer your own questions...book or no book.

I enjoy your writings.

Mike

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

I without any hesitation will say that Jesus is Lord -- that isn't necessarily an evangelical-only position.

Trevor said...

I read the book and I didn't like it too much. The problem I have with this book is not its call to follow and worship Jesus, but that they never really define which Jesus it is to whom we should ascribe worth. Is it the "homeboy Jesus" of the Hollywood-types, the "baby Jesus" of Ricky Bobby, or the Jesus who lived, was killed in a public execution, and was resurrected within the ongoing story of people who believed themselves to be called by God.

In the final analysis, I sensed that Sweet and Viola wanted to challenge the people who are intent on praying and embodying the Lord's Prayer. It seems they want those people to give up that agenda and, instead, become modern-day, middle-class mystics who meet in suburban house churches, chanting to a disembodied Jesus while sipping coffee from Starbucks.

Just my opinion (and it's certainly not the only one on offer!).