Monday, May 31, 2010

Abandon Faith, All Ye who Enter Here

Note: Please see the comments below. In my review, I wasn't as verse-centric as I needed to be. The comments span a few of those.

I picked up the Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ (perhaps the length of the title should have given me pause on this book) through BookSneeze as a free book as long as I review it. The last book that I picked up through them was very interesting so I thought I'd give it another shot. JM, as it shall now be referenced, piqued my interest as a Christian. I agree that too many churches stick to the, "Life is Abundantly Happy - The End" type of message, and that the meat of the belief in Christ is not always taught to the body. I found out that we didn't agree on a lot after that point.

When I opened JM, I was thinking this seems to be starting OK. After the first chapter, I was disappointed with how they appeared to be marginalizing God and the Holy Spirit in the Trinity. They didn't come out and say that they weren't as important, but they definitely limited the role of God and Holy Spirit; sort of the cheerleaders of Christ. But that little shove kept the ball rolling throughout the entire book! This wasn't a focus on Christ and the importance to the Church body, but a complete mangling of the faith! I would consider the Bible, the Word of God, the end-all-be-all of what Christ is to us. Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, the authors, felt that it was not enough. We started seeing quotes about how we must "understand ourselves" before we can "understand Christ" and other psycho-babble that doesn't belong in anything referencing Scripture. I am only marginally surprised that I did not see a quote from Freud or Richard Dawkins to help explain Christ-centric theology. And out of this fountain of human knowledge comes the idea that we are not to be like Christ but we must become Christ! Can you believe that? I certainly can't!

""We have learned a lot from different perspectives of Jesus: feminist theology, creation theology, process theology, liberation theology, narrative theology, postliberal theology, emergent theology."

Quote Talk: JM doesn't go into detail on any of these items, but any non-denominational Bible-believing Christian will find no solace in the aforementioned theologies. If the authors found these theologies to be enlightening and expressive of who Christ is, then that's enough to throw this book down as heretical. You can go look up some of those and find out that they stand in direct contention to what/who God/Christ is. You'll find things such as God is not omnipotent, God is not unchanging, the Goddess movement, and even expansion into other religions.  Would anyone care to point out where these concepts are proven in the Scriptures. 

In summation, I cannot recommend this book to a believer (new or old) or non-believer for any purpose whatsoever. And I barely scratched the surface on what's horribly wrong with this book! It comes down to the fact that incorrect theology of God the Father, God the Son, and The Holy Spirit is to be thrown out. This is not a good piece of teaching material. It shows the extremes man can go to to explain what's already been explained fully in the Word of God - The Bible. When one has an issue, one goes to the Bible. When one seeks the Lord, one goes to the Bible. When one needs to explain Christ and Salvation, one goes to the Bible. You do not go to a psychologist that directs you to seek what's inside you and to revel in it. Man is not Christ. On top of that, I am actually going to throw this book away. I'll keep many things - blurry pictures that I have duplicates of, books that I'll only read once because I didn't care much for them, or movies that I purchased that were alright. But heresy is worth getting rid of.

This has been a frustrating book to read and review. There is anger that it has the ability to steer folks away from the Truth. The Word of God explains it all. You don't add to it or fundamentally change what Scripture says to attempt to awaken the Church. It's unnerving that the authors ability to state that Christ is the center of the church, but then go outside the Church to find so-called answers to the greatness of God. And it's sad that there are people that truly believe what's being said in this work of fiction and will go down a path that doesn't lead to the true image of Christ.

Rating: 0 - well written garbage is still just garbage - especially when it can lead someone away from what the Scriptures say.


P.S. - My wife is also reading the book so if you want even more in-depth coverage of this you'll be able to get it within the next week or so. I'm also not including this book as part of my yearly challenge. Oh, and I'm going to now write a book called "The Gunslinging Christ: How Christ is Manifested in The Dark Tower Series and the Revelation of Heresy to Explanation".

P.P.S - Check out this Blog for another review of the same book. I'm not including this for another perspective on the theology but for some additional insight. I like Chris' negative comments. Not only is more well written than I am, he also explains some items that I didn't breach. Good blog.


  1. Interesting review, and one that I must disagree with.

    One major problem that I have with your critique of this book is that in your appeal to the Word of God [the Bible, in your view] as the source of all that needs to be explained, you fail to mention that the Bible itself [John, more specifically] informs the reader that it is indeed Christ Himself who is the Word.

    To place the burden of revelation, salvation etc. on a text written by humans at distinct historical times and for specific reasons, and to appeal to it alone as the source of all that we need to know, is in fact to deny the need for a risen Christ.

    And this is precisely the point that the authors of JM are trying to make - that to follow Jesus is to acknowledge that He is alive and present and deeply involved in the realities of day-to-day life. Christ did not come to offer us a new set of rules and principles to live by; rather, we are to enter into a relationship with Him, allowing Him to inform, shape and guide us as we seek to embody the love that He has for this world.

    If you would like to see my thoughts on the book, here they are:


    Ian Cameron McLaren

  2. It's not that I fail to mention that they are one in the same, but that my audience would recognize that the Word of God and Christ are the same. If I take what you say, the Scriptures that were written for a specific set of people by fallible humans are explicit in stating what Christ is. If the Scriptures are not accurate to everyone, as you say, then John's account should also be taken with a grain of salt. Now, even though I bring that up, I do not believe that myself. The Scriptures, The Living Word, are infallible. They are without error just as Christ is without error.

    John 1:1-4 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

    It denies nothing of the fact that we have need for Christ, as the Scripture dictates, as our only method of salvation. Nor does the Word limit the power of God and salvation through His Son. Christ is the new covenant and the salvation of Jew and Gentile.

    John 3:16-18 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God."

    Not to mention that God, Himself, is explicit to the function and application of the Scriptures to all things.

    2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."

    To not believe that this continues on for any generation is to deny what God told us from the very beginning. To believe that the Word of God is incorrect and could contain items only for specific people is to deny God. If one doesn't believe the Scriptures are correct and living today they deny the Christ who is risen. In fact, that would lead most to believe that there are possibly other ways to salvation! But that itself is also refuted plenty through Scripture. I keep coming back to this because you state that I am placing “the burden of revelation, salvation, etc. on a text written by humans at distinct historical times and for specific reasons, and to appeal to it alone as the source of all that we need to know, is in fact to deny the need for a risen Christ”.

    Ephesians 2:8-10 "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

    We agree that Christ is risen and alive today. I believe the difference of beliefs is that Jesus is applicable in different ways for each new generation. The salvation message is set in place by God in the Living Word. Salvation is a personal relationship with the Lord. We find ourselves informed, shaped and guided by His Word. I can’t think of a problem or situation that would exist in my life that I couldn’t take to the Lord in prayer and then search through The Word to find an answer to. I wouldn’t go to another commentary that didn’t always point back to the Word of God. As a Christian, I wouldn’t go to the Koran, the Mahabharata, or The God Delusion to find a more complete answer than what the Lord has given us in The Word.

  3. As a Christian, we do not follow a God/Christ that is evolving as the years go by. Sure, we aren’t wearing the same clothing, have the same technology, or speak the exact same as they did 2,000 years ago. Knowledge is growing at an incredible rate – thankfully, for an info junkie like me. But God and His Word are unchanging! There’s great assurance in knowing that we won’t find Him one day wholly different than what the Scriptures tell us of Him. As Revelation tells us, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” This steadfastness of the Lord is revealed to us throughout Scripture.

    1 Sam 15:29 “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.”

    Malachi 3:6 "For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

    James 1:16-18 “ Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”

    Psalm 102:25-28 “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.

    Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (fitting for what the book otherwise prefers to state)

    Romans 11:29 “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

    We are all blessed to have an unwavering God that loves us at every moment! That we have a Saviour that doesn’t forsake us or lead us down a path that isn’t His own is an astounding thing. Unfortunately, the book decides to impact the importance, the infallibility, and the foundations of God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It’s by the study of His Word ( by continuing to go back to The Scriptures to see what Jesus/God has said about this). As Christians, we will never be Christ. There is only one Saviour; one Lord. We can only be committed to being like Christ and follow His commandments as He’s shown us in Himself.

    Hebrews 4:12-16 "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

  4. If you guys are interested, Frank Viola wrote a comment on my blog in regards to the Trinity issue you have raised.