Monday, May 31, 2010

Jesus Manifesto

“Jesus Manifesto” by Leonard Sweet & Frank Viola published by Thomas Nelson

This book is about Jesus, not his life while on earth, but his life lived through you. The authors contend that we must get back to Jesus. “If the church does not reorient and become Christological at its core, any steps taken will be backwards.”

The beginning of the book began slow, the authors seemed to want to be devotional and inspirational, but failed on both counts.

With the chapter titled, “A Ditch on Either Side” the book became more interesting and practical. That believing the right things or doing the right things is not what being a Christian is all about-it is about following Jesus. The way, the truth and the life.

From there, they say, that following Jesus is not a cause. But it is a life lived beyond ourselves, stressing the point that it is not about us but about Him.
That in our desire for justice, it is not justice per se that we need or want but the Just One who is Jesus.
The authors state that Jesus was rejected everywhere except at Bethany. Then they give some ways that he was accepted and relates that to how we should accept Him.

I liked this quote, “While Jesus wasn’t political in the modern sense of the word, He was political in this sense; Christ was the beginning of the change of the world. He inaugurated a new creation. And he showed us how prayer might set us on the right road to peace before politics.” p. 119

Another quote, “The earth awaits a body of Christians in every city who will receive Jesus utterly and completely.” p.158

I give this book 3 stars. It was to propositional (something you would not expect from Sweet) and clich├ęd. It would have been better with some real life examples of people who are allowing Jesus to live through them today.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Book Review

“The Gospel You Never Heard,“ What a Protestant Bible written by Jews says about God’s work through Christ, by David I Rudel

I had mixed feelings about the book. At times it seemed the author was working on a study of certain words without really knowing exactly where he was going with it. For example he begins by questioning that Jesus was the only way to heaven, but then he never gives a solid answer nor does he return to the question.
Another example is that he never seems to answer the question that is on the cover of the book, Who goes to hell?

On the other had he does a good job of emphasizing and putting a new perspective on many words that we relate with the gospel. 'Repentance' is not faith but a changed direction in life, too many times we fail to distinguish the difference between faith and repentance. I like how John Wesley distinguish the two he said that salvation is the house, faith is the door and repentance is the front porch. In too many evangelical circles we have failed to cross the front porch.
Another word the writer stresses is 'salvation'. Salvation is not saved to go to heaven but saved to live a new life which was preceded by faith and repentance.

I would have liked to seen the author do a better study on the word sin. For I feel a lot of theological controversy surrounds a working definition for sin. For example some questions for sin that needs to be answered would be, What sins are we accountable for? Do we and must we sin everyday? And if we have to sin everyday how does that equate with us having salvation from sin?

I would give the book 2 stars

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A book review of "Bonhoeffer:Pastor,Martyr,Prophet,Spy"
by Eric Metaxas
published by Thomas Nelson

This is the first book that I have reviewed that I would give 5 stars. Approaching a biography of over 500 pages seemed at first somewhat intimidating. But once I began it was the best biography I have read. Beginning with Bonhoeffers childhood you could see the things that would influence him in later becoming a pastor, theologian, spy during Hitlers reign of power.

Bonhoffer felt that the church in America was way to shallow and the racism bothered him tremendously.
He remarked, "In New York they preach about virtually everything, only one thing is not addressed...namely the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross, sin and forgiveness, death and life."

I thoroughly enjoyed and the author made it clear how the church in Germany during WW11, succumbed to the influence and propaganda of Nazism. This was the best section of the book, with parallels and questions for our own time. How much should the church connect itself to the nation and culture it finds itself in?
The author did a good job of bringing in key people/influences of the church during the time without getting bogged down into to many details.

It was interesting to see that Bonhoffer’s participation in the conspiracy against Hitler was not driven because of culture, but because he felt this was what God was wanting him to do. For him it was a matter of obedience.

If you have looked for a biography on Bonhoffer or even if you are into WW2 history this book should not be missed.

A few quotes from Bonhoffer:
“Christianity conceals within itself a germ hostile to the church.”

“If you board the wrong train it is no use running along the corridor in the opposite direction.’

“The question is really, Christianity or Germanism? And the sooner the conflict is revealed in the clear light of day the better.”

Regarding marriage he said, “It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Boring

This “boredom” is “in most cases...the state of mind of those who lack imagination and therefore require all kinds of stimuli to prevent them from losing interest in things, and even in life.” That’s why people, adults as well as kids, are “constantly fiddling with their cellphone.” The alternative to all this fiddling is being alone with your own thoughts, which terrifies people used to the constant stimulation provided by our media-saturated culture.