Thursday, June 24, 2010

Book Review: Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

As I picked up Jesus Manifesto, I was unsure what I was in for. The subtitle "Restoring the supremacy and sovereignty of Jesus Christ" had my hopes set high but I have been disappointed before when I let them get too high. After all, I told myself, the Calvinistic idea of the sovereignty of Christ that so often gets me worked up is not the sort that needs to be restored in the first place. It's immovable and unchangeable, no restoration necessary. And if we're talking about some other sort . . . well, we will see.

And Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola were talking of some other sort for the most part. Yet I found myself unexpectedly captivated and convicted by this book as they argued for the supremacy and sovereignty that we should be giving Jesus as individual Christians and the Christian church. At times soaring, at times ground-level, at times gushing, Sweet and Viola paint a picture of Christ that is all at once immense and close. And thankfully they often share what a life shaped by the life, cross, and resurrection of Christ will look like—from social justice to love for the church.

They truly hit stride on the chapter regarding the letter to the Colossians. As they expand and expound on the already christologically dense first chapter, their (and Paul's) vision of Jesus comes into clear focus and I found myself aching with love for the person of Christ. I would dare say this book is worth buying for chapter 2 alone—or at least sitting in The Barn (as my wife calls Barnes and Nobles) and reading it. I feel no shame in saying that because I imagine most who read that chapter will buy the book anyway.

A few negatives: the book seems to lack a certain flow from chapter to chapter. The authors seem happy to camp in the middle ground of trendy/edgy Jesus without delving into too many divisive ideas. Their Jesus is a uniter, not a divider. And yes, I did say that the high point of the book was chapter 2—but don't let that stop you. While everything else may be downhill, they keep momentum and the jog is certainly worthwhile.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Everyone

This book was a free review copy provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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