Jesus Manifesto

Frank Viola and Len Sweet have combined their writing prowess to form one of the most powerful pieces of Christian literature of our generation. Jesus Manifesto is a no-holds-barred examination of the Bible’s infatuation with Jesus Christ. Viola and Sweet articulate the awe-inspiring truth that the Old Testament is taken up with Jesus Christ; the New Testament is taken up with Jesus Christ; Paul was taken up with Jesus Christ; the Apostle’s “doctrine” was taken up with Jesus Christ; the Father was taken up with Jesus Christ; the Holy Spirit was taken up with Jesus Christ; the early church was taken up with Jesus Christ; and throughout the last 2000+ years, whenever a serious refocus of God’s people occurred, they were taken up with a fresh revelation of the supremacy of Jesus Christ. From the Creation narrative, to the summation of all things in the last two chapters of Revelation, Jesus Christ is the One through whom all things were made and the One in whom all things will be consummated. He is the Alpha and Omega.

Viola and Sweet illustrate Jesus to be the aperture through which the light of the Godhead is focused, harnessed, and glaringly intensified. They take time to develop the truth that Truth is not a statement, religion, system, buildings, or any other man-made initiative; but rather Truth is a person, the person of Jesus. They laboriously insist the gospel is not merely social activism, moral objectivity, or a system through which to make the world a better place. Instead the gospel is nothing short of a monumental unveiling of Jesus Christ in all His mercy, love, compassion, grace, wisdom, and grandeur. The gospel is both death and life. It marks the beginning of a new race, a new humanity that never existed before Jesus Christ’s atoning work on the Cross. Jesus is the gospel! Furthermore, according to Viola and Sweet, the Bible never advocates just the following of Jesus’ sayings or teachings. Rather, Jesus said, “Follow me.” This distinction separates Christianity from all other religious systems whose leaders are dead and cannot be followed.

If you’ve never glimpsed the “sight of peerless worth,” you’re in for a jaw-dropping, breath-taking, whirlwind of emotions and spiritual advancement as you journey through this masterfully written work of art. Jesus exudes its pages. No other agenda outside of exalting the Exalted Christ is at hand. Though this book may be an affront to modern religionist ideologies of social justice, doctrinal creeds, health-and-wealth purveyors, and many other religious institutions of thought, Viola and Sweet make one thing clear: Christianity is NOT about us, but is totally about Him who is all and fills all, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Quotes of Note:

  • It is all too possible to emphasize a spiritual truth, value, virtue or gift, yet miss Christ, who is Himself the embodiment and incarnation of all of these things.
  • The world likes Jesus; they just don’t like the church. But increasingly, the church likes the church, yet they don’t like Jesus.
  • When we dethrone Jesus Christ from His rightful place, we tarnish the face of Christianity and redefine it out of existence.
  • Both the center and circumference of the Christian life is none other than the person of Christ.
  • Knowing Christ profoundly and in reality is the chief pursuit of the Christian life.
  • If the heart is occupied with Christ, Jesus will pour forth from the lips and the pen.
  • [T]hose who do not present Christ when they minister not only miss a note, but they play the wrong tune.
  • It is a profound mistake to treat Jesus as simply the founder of a set of moral, ethical, or social teachings.
  • [Jesus] is not at home in any church that doesn’t give Him the place of absolute supremacy and sovereignty.
  • The gospel that’s so often preached today lacks a revelation of Jesus Christ. The contemporary gospel boils down to a fire-insurance policy, a Santa Claus God, or a performance-based religion. As long as we stay on that plane, we’ll never see or comprehend the staggering enormity of our Lord.
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Blog Circuit Interview with Frank Viola…

I have been excited about this interview for several weeks now. From Eternity To Here was one of the most profound and Christocentric books I have ever read. I reviewed the book here. Below are a couple of questions I asked Frank regarding his books and his ministry. Then, you will find lots of “link love” for the book, and a full list of all the blogs participating todays blog circuit. Enjoy!

How do you personally handle criticisms about your philosophy, especially from within the ranks of Christianity?

I’ve really not had any real criticism on my book FROM ETERNITY TO HERE. Quite the contrary. It’s been received extremely well by some of the top leaders in the Body of Christ today, from every denomination. Many pastors are using the book with their congregations with the free discussion guide. Sunday schools are using it as well, along with Bible colleges and small groups, house churches, and missional churches. We’ve been rather overwhelmed by the huge response and the great reception it’s had among Christians everywhere. It’s a trans-denominational book, I think.

I’ve received some criticism in response to my and George Barna’s book PAGAN CHRISTIANITY. If someone has read the book and is actually interacting with the actual arguments that we make in the book (opposed to constructing straw-man arguments or ad hominems), I listen and take it into consideration. The rest I don’t pay attention to. To my mind, if someone criticizes someone else’s work without reading it carefully or without interacting with what the work actually says, it’s not worth taking seriously. On the other hand, constructive criticism given in a spirit of humility and love I esteem highly.

I realize everyone is very different, but I wander, can you give a “list” of possible “steps” one may go through along the journey from institutionalism into authentic, organic church life?

FROM ETERNITY TO HERE doesn’t address church practice, form, or traditions. It deals rather with the big, sweeping epic of God’s grand mission and eternal purpose. To my mind, unless a group of believers understands and adjusts their lives corporately to God’s ageless purpose, it really doesn’t matter if they have a so-called “Biblical” form of church.

I know a good number of Christians who are part of house churches, simple churches, missional churches, and emerging churches, and they have no grasp of the eternal purpose at all. Consequently, I feel that such groups miss the beating heart of God. So to my mind, the critical issue … the starting point … is not structure, form, or shape. It’s rather the receiving of a revelation of God’s eternal purpose in Christ.

Once that happens, then each existing church and individual Christian will want to answer the question: Does my church match the eternal purpose of God? Is it standing for that purpose or is it hindering it? In what ways is it fulfilling it and in what ways is it detracting from it? These are large questions. My next book, the final book in the series, explores it in detail.

I’m not sure about my readers, but I am excited about how Father is using Frank and many others to ignite passion and exploration into the deep riches of Christ. The status quo is not longer sufficient. It is time to ask tough questions and search out the answers. Does my church match the eternal pupose of God?

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OTHER BLOGS PARTICIPATING IN THE “FROM ETERNITY TO HERE” BLOG CIRCUIT

Today (June 9th), the following blogs are discussing Frank Viola’s new bestselling book “From Eternity to Here” (David C. Cook, 2009). The book just hit the May CBA Bestseller List. Some are posting Q & A with Frank; others are posting full reviews of the book. To read more reviews and order a copy at a 33% discount, go to Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Eternity-Here-Rediscovering-Ageless-Purpose/dp/1434768708/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233609867&sr=1-4

For more resources, such as downloadable audios, the free Discussion Guide, the Facebook Group page, etc. go to the official website: http://www.FromEternitytoHere.org

Enjoy the reviews and the Q and A:

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Out of Ur – http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2009/05/viola.html

Shapevine – http://www.shapevine.com/ (June newsletter)

Brian Eberly – http://www.brianeberly.com/

DashHouse.com – http://www.DashHouse.com/

Greg Boyd – http://www.gregboyd.org/blog/

Vision Advance – http://vision2advance.blogspot.com/

David Flowers – http://ddflowers.wordpress.com/

Kingdom Grace – http://kingdomgrace.wordpress.com/

Captain’s Blog – http://www.captainestes.blogspot.com/

Christine Sine – http://godspace.wordpress.com/

Darin Hufford – The Free Believers Network – http://www.freebelievers.com/

Zoecarnate – http://zoecarnate.wordpress.com/

Church Planting Novice – http://www.churchplantingnovice.wordpress.com/

Staying Focused – http://kimmartinezstayingfocused.wordpress.com/

Take Your Vitamin Z – http://www.takeyourvitaminz.blogspot.com/

Jeff Goins – http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org/

Bunny Trails – http://bunny-trails.blogspot.com/

Matt Cleaver – http://mattcleaver.com/

Jason T. Berggren – http://blog.jasonberggren.com/

Simple Church – http://www.simplechurchjournal.com/

Emerging from Montana – http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/

Parable Life – http://www.theparablelife.blogspot.com/

Oikos Australia – http://www.oikos.org.au/blog/

West Coast Witness – http://www.westcoastwitness.com/

Keith Giles – http://www.keith.giles.com/

Consuming Worship — http://www.consumingworship.org/

Tasha Via – http://www.tashavia.blogspot.com/

Andrew Courtright – http://www.andrewcourtright.blogspot.com/

ShowMeTheMooneys! – http://www.showmethemooneys.com/

Leaving Salem, Blog of Ronnie McBrayer – http://leavingsalem.wordpress.com/ 

Jason Coker – pastoralia.missionaltribe.org 

From Knowledge to Wisdom – http://isthistheway.typepad.com/

Home Brewed Christianity – http://www.homebrewedchristianity.com

Dispossessed – http://kblog.kevinjbowman.com/

Dandelion Seeds – http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.homeschoolblogger.com%2FDandelionseeds&h=c2d85ac2c4c1ec9a2360ae786e941445

David Brodsky’s Blog- “Flip the tape Deck” – http://flipthetapedeck.blogspot.com/

Chaordic Journey – https://jeffrhodes.wordpress.com/

Renee Martin – http://www.reneemartinmusic.com/profiles/blog/list

Bob Kuhn – http://organicchurchnola.wordpress.com/

Living with Freaks: http://www.livingwithfreaks.com/

Real Worship – http://therealworshipleader.com/

Fervent Worship – http://ferventworship.blogspot.com/

Julie Ferwerda Blog – http://www.julieferwerda.com/http://www.onemillionarrows.com/

What’s With Christina?! – http://w2christina.blogspot.com/

Irreligious Canuck – http://www.irreligiouscanuck.com/

This day on the journey – http://guychmieleski.blogspot.com/

Live and Move: Thoughts on Authentic Christianity – http://liveandmove.blogspot.com/

Spiritual Journey With God – http://www.elvineve.blogspot.com/

Dries Conje – http://www.echurch.co.za/ / http://www.thejesusfeed.com/ / http://www.bookdisciple.com/.

Journey with Others – http://journeywithothers.blogspot.com/

On Now to the Third Level – http://www.080808onnowto.blogspot.com/

Christine Moers – http://www.welcometomybrain.net/

Breaking Point – http://marybethstockdale.wordpress.com/

Hand to the Plough – http://www.handtotheplough.com.au/

Jon Reid – http://jonreid.blogs.com/oneanother/welcome-pilgrim.html

Weblight – http://www.blog.worldwidewebservices.se/

D. L. Webster – http://gzmproductions.com/dlwebster

Searching for the Whole-Hearted Life – wholeheartedlife.blogspot.com

I hope you have benefited from this blog circuit. Be sure to leave a comment!

Thanx!

Blog Circuit….

Be sure to stop by tomorrow and take part in a 58 blogger blog circuit promoting Frank Viola’s phenomenal new book, “From Eternity to Here”. If you haven’t read any of Frank’s books, or heard him speak, you’ll find some great resources. I have had the opportunity to ask Frank a couple of questions, and have read all of his current books. Kacey and I will also be traveling to Orlando next month to meet him and take part in a conference with many others who are pioneers in the organic church movement.

I think you’ll agree that this book retells the greatest story ever told in the history of universe. You can check out my review here.

Thanx!

The Rabbit and the Elephant….

Yesterday, I received my copy for review of, “The Rabbit and the Elephant: Why Small is the New Big for Today’s Church”. I look forward to reading and reviewing it. I have met and spoken several times with Tony and Felicity Dale. They certainly have a passion for Jesus and a simple expression for His Church.

I have also had the privilege of participating in several of their breakout sessions at the CMA Conferencein Los Angeles, CA, over the past three years. Their stories are compelling and inspiring. Their life work has been richly blessed by Father. They have also been instrumental in starting a website for social networking among those involved or interested in the ideas and practice of simple church: www.simplechurch.com.

Editorial Reviews:

Back Cover:

What does faith in Jesus have in common with rabbits and elephants?

If you put two elephants in a room together and close the door, in three years you may have one baby elephant. But when you put two rabbits together for the same amount of time. . . .

Using this simple analogy, church planters Tony and Felicity Dale and acclaimed researcher George Barna bring a big message to God’s church. How could we change the world if our Christian faith began multiplying at a rapid pace—through a way of life that is explosive and transformational? It happened once before, in the early days of the church; what will it take to bring us to that point of urgency and determination again?

The Rabbit and the Elephant offers keys to twenty-first-century evangelism: leveraging the power of the small—and taking the gospel to where the pain is and where the people are. And as God uses us to channel Jesus’ love into a hurting, desperate world, we’ll see his church grow beyond anything we could have imagined.

Front Flap:

What would it take to spark new life into the church?

Today’s Western culture is indifferent to church and Christians. Yet the early church existed in far harsher conditions—and it thrived. Much like a new litter of rabbits, the infant faith quickly grew and spread. And the result was a world transformed.

In The Rabbit and the Elephant, Drs. Tony and Felicity Dale (Simply Church) and George Barna (Revolution) say that the same thing is happening today. As Christians, we are the church—whether we meet in office buildings, college dorm rooms, coffee shops, factories, or homes—and the Holy Spirit uses us to expand that church to the far reaches of the globe. By practicing “simple church,” we’ll find that a small gathering of friends loving Jesus together and reaching out to the community around them can help us to be the church, the way God intended.

The rabbit and the elephant. Something small and something big. Find out what lessons they hold for you, for the body of Christ, and for the future of church as we know it.

If you decide to purchase the book, be sure to buy it from Amazon!!

Thanx!

Jesus, Interrupted (Final Review)…

Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them) sent me through riveting emotions. At times, I could feel anger and hostility rise in an effort to defend. In other moments, I felt a deep compassion for Mr. Ehrman. Then, there were the occasions I found myself nodding in agreement. I have always made it a point to read books that challenge my thinking, and this book certainly did. I learned nothing new, but I did gain some interesting insights for my journey.

I think the book can be summed up with the opening and closing pages from which Ehrman sets forth the fact that he is an Evangelical-Christian-turned-Agnostic. He argues several times that his conclusions regarding historical, textual criticism have nothing to do with his agnostic beliefs, but his views on Scripture certainly give him the framework to believe whatever is convenient. So, it is not so much a book of data interpretation as it is a philosophical diatribe specifically directed at conservative, evangelical Christianity.

It seems to me that while Ehrman presents his data clearly and with a significant degree of literary prowess, his conclusions often just don’t make much sense. For example:

He builds his critical argument that both the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke were forgeries penned years after the Gospel according to Mark. The reason they must be forgeries, of course, is that both Matthew and Mark would have been too illiterate to write such sophisticated prose. Further, the authors of Matthew and Luke used Mark to copy some of their stories. A serious problem naturally arises when we find several stories in both Matthew and Luke that are not found in Mark. How could this be? From where did these stories come? Scholars simply “invent” an unknown text by an unknown author at an unknown time. Why does this need to be done? Because, Matthew and Luke were forgeries, and the deceptive authors used Mark as their basis; yet they have different stories, so there must be another source. Does this seem somewhat circular? But that’s not it! On page 158, Ehrman actually quotes from this never-before-seen text known as “Q”! The passage he quotes is found in both Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark, so it MUST be from Q, therefore by the authority of sheer speculation, a text is created right out of a scholar’s imagination. Fascinating!

I could go on and on describing the house of cards that Ehrman builds. In one chapter he refers to his conclusions as “possible,” “probable,” or “likely” while restating the same idea in the next chapter as fact in order to build yet another “possible” conclusion. To be honest, and fair, it seems as though Ehrman has more faith than most Christians!

With all this being said, I must state my final evaluation. In the opening pages of the book, Ehrman describes his relationship with Evangelical Christianity as a mental assent to propositional ideas. He was very devoted to memorizing and learning facts. However, he never talks about a personal relationship with the person of Jesus. That may be due to his current agnostic position, but it is, nonetheless, missing from his story line. I believe this is the most telling truth in all the book. And like Ehrman’s own background, many, many “Christians” in the West have a vibrant relationship with a set of doctrines, creeds, traditions, and ideologies, yet never enter into the fullness of what it means to be in Christ. This, in my opinion, is why many students enter classes much like that of Mr. Ehrman in their respective colleges, and exit with total indifference to the Bible and Christianity. We must understand, Christianity is by far the least likely idea to be true in all of historical, textual, critical research and study. That is what makes faith all the more important. A “Christian” set of facts, figures, data, and propositions, while important, are not what is necessary for Christianity to be real. It is our personal relationship with Jesus.

READ MORE GREAT REVIEWS HERE!!

Thanx!