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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Something a Bit New…

I have now had this particular blog for over two years. I had another blog for nearly a year before this one, so, I have been out here in cyberspace rambling about life, family, church, books, and other stuff. I have ruffled a few feathers from time to time. I have inserted my foot into my mouth on a few occasions. I have challenged and been challenged. I have received numerous emails, both critical and encouraging. All-in-all, I have enjoyed blogging.

The downside is I haven’t been very consistent. When, on occasion, I engage my readers with provocative topics, I get to enjoy the interaction that typically ensues. My posting is very “in-the-moment” and sporadic. There is good and bad about this. The bad is that my readers never know when I will post, or what I might say. It can be a bit confusing and pointless. Recently, however, I have received several opportunities to review books. Good books. Some of them are pre-release reviews. Some are brand new releases.

This got me to thinking more about my blog and how better to use it as a platform to help people follow the Way of Jesus. How can my blog be used as an information portal where those on the journey can be challenged, encouraged, and engaged in intelligent conversation about relevant issues facing Jesus followers today? That’s, my friends, is one big honkin’ question!! 🙂

So here is what I have decided to do going forward. In a few weeks I will launch a new blog “schedule”.

It will look something like this:

  • Monday: “Monday’s Meditation” – This will be a reflection on a passage of Scripture or a spiritual thought that I have been thinking. Like a devotion.
  • Tuesday: “Tuesday’s Web Review”– This is where I will review a website or a blog that I think is relevant for the journey. If you have a site that you think deserves a shout-out, email me!
  • Wednesday: “Wednesday’s Wondering”– On this day, I will simply post a question or a survey. I want candid, YET RELEVANT, discussion. I will be moderating and will strike thy stupid comments down!! 🙂
  • Thursday: “Thursday’s Book Review”– Obviously, I will review a book on this day. I will try to give lot’s of link love and other relevant information. I will review new release books, pre-release books, and older books in my library.
  • Friday: “Friday Free For All!” – This will be my random post day. Videos, links to other articles, pics, family stuff, whatever!

Saturday and Sunday will be open days. I will probably rarely post on these days as has been my practice until now. I hope this “schedule” will help my blog be more relevant and helpful.

Thanx!

Jesus, Interupted (Post 1)…

So, I received my first free book from the ooze viral bloggers. I am actually excited about this book, though my initial impression of it is not that grandiose. I have decided to blog as I read through it. I am not sure how many posts this may end up being, but I will summarize them in the end. So here goes…

In the Preface, Ehrman gives an abbreviated story of his conversion to Fundamental, Evangelical Christianity and then his conversion out of it as he learned the “truth” about the Bible. Interesting story. I always enjoy hearing or reading conversion stories, no matter what the conversion is from or to. Their is much to learn from conversion expereinces and stories regarding human sociology. I hope he shares more on this in the book.

However, my first impression from chapter one is not so appealing. I’ll share a few brief quotes:

Scholars of the Bible have made significant progress in understading the Bible over the past two hundred years…

…not only are most Americans (increasingly) ignorant of the contents of the Bible, but they are also almost completely in the dark about what scholars have been saying about the Bible…

They are the views that have held sway for many, many years among the majority of serious critical scholars…they have not been effectively communicated…among the people of faith…

He also writes:

This book is meant to help redress that problem. It could be seen as my attempt to let the cat out of the bag.

So, Ehrman has graced all of us ignorant and unlearned folks of faith with the wealth of his expertise by writing us a book. Here’s what’s funny…

On the back cover, one of the endorsements reads,

God’s Problem contains so much earnest humility that he will find sympathetic readers even among believers…

No, I haven’t read very far yet, but “earnest humility”? Really?

Anyway, I will say, as beleivers, we must be awakened to our gross ignorance of critical textual scholarship. We must give our ear to those who teach the Bible in major Universities, because this is what they are teaching and have been for years.

I am glad to be reading this book, and look forward to learning and giving my own, probably very biased, opinions.

Thanx!

Still Here…

For anyone wondering, yes, I am still here. I have been very busy lately. I am reading, coaching baseball, working, spending more time with my kiddos and wife, and spending way less time in front of a computer. It’s been good. Here are some random thoughts:

  • I am preparing to lead my family through the week of Passover this year by reading through the last week of Jesus’ life (we’ll read a portion on each night), celebrating an actual Passover meal (using an actual Messianic Jewish Liturgy), and celebrating the Feast of the Firstfruits on Easter Sunday (which was always celebrated on the first day of the week after Passover). I have NEVER been this excited about our Savior’s resurrection! BTW, Passover actually begins at sundown on April 8th.
  • I am planning a prolonged blog series covering the life of Christ in His Jewish context of the First Century. I am not sure how I will do this yet, but I am looking forward to moving through His life with my family and friends.
  • Kacey and I are making some huge business changes. We are fully depending on Father to provide. This has been a season of challenge. I am trying not to worry. We need prayer.
  • We have been getting way closer to some of our friends lately. We are planning a multiple family camping trip for next month. I am very much looking forward to this!
  • I love baseball. I love coaching, and being a big part of what my kids are doing. I think this season will be lots of fun!

Thanx!

Reading…

I just got through reading:

Good book. Lots of stuff to digest. Reminded me of how far away I really am. Also reminded me just how big this stinkin’ world is!! Man our scope for filtering life is so narrow. I have really begun to think and pray for Memphis. I drive through Memphis fairly regular, and always try to notice the people. The cardboard “cities” under the overpasses, the “street-walkers”, etc. I try to imagine their pain, their bad choices, and their lack of knowledge of any “other” way. What can we do?

I am now reading:

I am not far into it, but can already tell that it will make me wish I had not read it. 🙂 To share a quote:

You can be sure that these chaotic events are keeping end-times prophecy buffs very busy, but my passion is for discovering what God is doing in these turbulent times, and how I can be much more a part of it. For followers of Jesus, times of challenge are always times of opportunity to give new creative expression to God’s love for a people and a world. The character Gandalf, in The Lord of the Rings, reminds us that we can’t choose the times in which we are born, but says, “We are responsible for the time that is given to us.”

Tom Sine, The New Conspirators

This is not a book about a certain way of “doing” church, but instead how to be the church in such a volatile era of history. Tom Sine writes a lot about the church’s “transition”. Very interesting and insightful. Once again, it makes me appreciative of my history and those that still do “normal” ministry in traditional settings.

If you have time, you should also check out this article, “My Gripes About the House Church Movement”. Read through the whole thing if you’re gonna read it!! It is worth the effort. Just tryin’ to keep it real around here! 🙂

Thanx!