A new book by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola has been published today called "The Jesus Manifesto ." It is receiving thunderous acclaim from all corners of Christendom and I received the kindness of receiving a complimentary pre-pub copy of the book from the publishers, with the stipulation that I mention it on my blog here on the date it is published.
So, many thanks to the good folks at Thomas Nelson for sending this to me and I invite you to follow either of the above links to see some of what the book is about and see some of the recommendations from leaders that many of you trust.
As for me, I have read the first several chapters and each time I read a chapter it is hard to work up any enthusiasm for going back to read the next chapter. It's not that they are saying anything I necessarily disagree with, in fact much of it is spot on. But the book insinuates that these authors are telling us something new in telling us that the Christian life is all about Jesus.
It reminds me of an incident from my childhood. As I grew up there was a Burger King not far from my house that I could walk to and I went there often to get a cheeseburger, fries and a coke. I loved cheeseburgers, I loved fries and I loved cokes. But during the summer I would go visit my grandparents in West Virginia in a small town where there were no Burger Kings. One summer my cravings for french fries overcame me and I begged my grandparents to take me somewhere to get some french fries. Later that day the most amazing thing happened.
I went into the kitchen where my grandmother was slicing up a bunch of potatoes and putting them in a frying pan and then she served them and lo and behold, they were french fries. This excited me so much that when my parents came to pick me up later the first thing I did was run out the door and excitedly announce to my mom the following - "MOM! MOM! did you know you can make FRENCH FRIES out of POTATOES? Mawmaw knows how to make french fries out of potatoes!" My mom still howls over that one and trots the story out regularly at family gatherings.
Frankly though, that's the feeling I get in reading this book - in announcing to the rest of us lukewarm folks that the Christian life is all about Jesus they remind me of myself announcing to my mom that you can make french fries out of potatoes.
I don't doubt that we lose sight of Jesus, I know it's a regular practice of mine and I also like to tell my congregation that the gospel leaks, hence we must be reminding ourselves of the gospel all the time. In that respect this book has some good stuff to say. I do think that the work of Tim Keller and Mike Horton on the topic of recovering Jesus and the gospel are far more substantive. Also, J. Gresham Machen's book "Christianity and Liberalism" is still unsurpassed on the same subject.
But these are just my reactions and I know I can be a bit cranky these days. Many folks who are far better than me like the book so I'll defer to them, but I still don't see what all the fuss is about.