Monday, May 31, 2010

Review of Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

Book Description 

Christians have made the gospel about so many things—things other than Christ.  Religious concepts, ideas, doctrines, strategies, methods, techniques, formulas, "its" and "things" have all eclipsed the beauty, the glory, and the reality of the Lord Jesus Himself.  On the whole, Christians today are starved for a real experience of the living Christ.  We know a lot about our Lord, but we don't know Him very well.  We know a lot about trying to be like Jesus, but very little about living by His indwelling life. 

JESUS MANIFESTO presents a fresh unveiling of Jesus as not only Savior and Lord, but as so much more.  It is a prophetic call to restore the supremacy and sovereignty of Christ in a world—and a church—that has lost sight of Him.

Every revival and restoration in the church has been a rediscovery of some aspect of Christ in the process of answering the ultimate question that Jesus put to His disciples: "Who do you say that I am?" 
Read this book and see your Lord like you've never seen Him before. 
Christians don’t follow Christianity; they follow Christ.  Christians don't proclaim themselves; they proclaim Christ.  Christians don’t point people to core values; they point people to the Cross.  Christians don't preach about Christ; they preach Christ.  What is presented is razor-sharp, cut-glass clarity of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It has never been more valuable or more needed. 

My Thoughts:

Jesus Manifesto starts out very tedious and repetitive.  I understand the literary concept of repetition to drive home a point but the first few chapters are so repetitive it almost made me stop reading.  To their benefit however, Sweet and Viola mix in some very good points during the repetition and keep the reader involved.  

Rather than resting on human wisdom, Jesus Manifesto rests solidly on Scripture, the word that contains the Word.  Occasionally, Sweet and Viola will pull a verse from [not out of] context to make a point.  I was somewhat frustrated by their use of Scripture, with many bits and pieces from various parts of the Bible bulleted to prove a point without providing context for each.  They stretch the context in this regard but never out right use a verse to “win an argument.”  

Christ’s “crosswork” is given little attention provided en the magnitude of its implication.  Sweet and Viola make wonderful points about Christ’s supremacy and His “life” without paying much attention to what His death meant.  If this is truly a “manifesto” then adequate time should have been spent in Christ’s atonement.  

I think Sweet and Viola are accurate in their assessment of today’s church and the need to get back to the core of Christianity…Christ Himself.  Too often, we try to preach about how to do this or that.  We teach emulating Christ but do not teach Christ; which would make emulating Him all the more rational.  Sweet and Viola state that we often become tempted to, “. . . motivate people with lower things: principles, rules, regulations, religious duty, shame, fear, and guilt. . . . to preach on ‘things’ instead of Him.”  I believe they hit the nail on the head with this.  How many pastors or teachers lost sight of Christ and start dissecting Scripture to make a point or sway a political passion?    

Jesus Manifesto is refreshing in that it reminds us Christ lives within us if we have made Him our Lord and Savior.  Our focus is allowing Him to live in and through us; our lives being the very Spirit that indwells us.  We lose sight sometimes and try to serve Him and make serving our focus instead of getting to know Him and living for and with Him. 

Overall, Sweet and Viola have written a good book.  Jesus Manifesto is not quite a “manifesto” but it does bring us back to the root of Christianity.  There are several stimulating points made and enough real life examples for why we need to stop acting like Christ and experience Christ.  This book reinforces through the Bible What and Who Christ is.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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