“The Jesus Manifesto” by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola
The Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola is generally not a book I would pick up on my own volition. I participate in Thomas Nelson’s Booksneeze program that lets me read books for free, provided I write up a review afterward. Since I figured my friend Aideen would like reading the book herself, I decided to give it a read. (It’s soon in the mail to you, my friend. I told you would like my most recent plotting.)
The book attempts to articulate Jesus Christ as the sum total of the Christian faith. The authors long to see Jesus Christ as the center and head of His Church. They would like to see Christians dwell deeply in the mystery of the person of Christ, becoming people of the Person in a living, dynamic relationship with the Truth that can captivate like only Love Incarnate can. For this the authors can be commended. They consider the life of Jesus in its totality. In particular, they exhort Christians to yield to the life of Christ within every child of God.
This book is risky for sure, especially among Protestants. The authors cannot discuss Christ as Incarnate God without considering the role of Mary and the Church as the Body of Christ. While Mary gets scant mention (4 out of 179 pages), the fact that she is mentioned at all is impressive for a book written by Protestants. The authors express a desire to provide razor-sharp cut-glass clarity on the Lord Jesus Christ; therefore it is worth mentioning that the book hints at adoptionism when discussing that Mary spent 3 years watching her son become the Son of God. Yet, that one small observation aside, I do think that this book is absolutely valid reading. Additionally, the authors discuss the need for a properly functioning Body of believers. The discussion in the chapter called “The House of Figs” is incredibly wonderfully constructed. Oh that Christ would empower a fruitful Church that receives Him as Master of the house!
The authors totally nailed the truth that Jesus Christ is the Rosetta Stone of the Scriptures. Everything in the entire Bible testifies to Him and must be read in light of Him. To put Christ at the absolute sum and center of the Christian’s obsession is to place Him in His rightful place. Christ is to be received on His own terms as master of the house. Many, many, many Christian leaders of all stripes would do well to focus exclusively on Christ. Whether we have our eyes fixed on our culture or words on a page, we have fixed them elsewhere than Christ.
I do think that Christians everywhere would do well to seek Christ as revealed to us in the Gospel — the One who came, dwelt among us, made visible the image of the invisible God, called to us, revealed the nature of the Law to us, healed the sick, proclaimed good news to the poor, liberated the captives, suffered alongside of us and for us, poured Himself out in the unimaginable love made manifest fully on the Cross, trampled down death by death, rose from the dead, ascended to Heaven, sits in glorified human flesh at the right-hand of God, prepared a place for us, and redeemed the whole of creation. May we have a Person-driven life, fully transfixed on God who is. May Christ implant Himself in us, taking up full residence within us.
And may we discover that in asking Christ “Who are You?” we encounter a question that has no last words.