Today I am going to start another dimension to this blog experience. Not another dimension in the sense that we are going to explore alternative realities of existence, although I did watch the new STAR TREK last night and it was absolutely phenomenal! (ok, I’m an old school trekkie, I admit it).
But, I have been reading my eyeballs out for the past few years and have come across some excellent books that have helped re-shape my thinking about God, humanity, church and life in general.
Often now I as I talk with people someone will say, “wow, that’s crazy! I never thought of it like that… How did you come to that conclusion?”
Now, on the one hand, I like those questions because it gives me an opportunity to address a whole system of thought that I think needs voiced. But, on the other hand, so much has shaped me, I sometimes wonder where to begin.
Many of you have also wanted to do some thinking and reading on your own about these same topics and I have tried to recommend some good resources to you as I come across them.
Along this line, about a month or so ago, I agreed to join a viral-blog group for TheOOZE.com to read and write reviews for new books. If you have never stopped by TheOOZE.com, I would encourage you to become a regular visitor.
Those of you who really know me know that I love to read and write and so it seemed like the natural thing to do.
As I have been reading, I have found several books to be not only interesting for me personally, but the type of thing I’d love to pass on to you, if you have the same desire to continually rethink your relationship with God and this life.
So, today is my first real review. My hope is that I will be able to convey some of the content and purpose of these works in a way that might help you decide whether it might be a helpful read for you as well.
I sincerely believe that we are in the midst of great transition in the life of humanity on this planet and in the church, especially in the West. The more of us that are rethinking the issues of what it means to follow in the life of Jesus in this context, the better.
So happy reading and thinking! And as you read and think, please leave a comment and contribute your own “review” to the rest of our community.
Oh, and do yourself a favor and go watch STAR TREK!
Today, I want to look briefly at a book called, “ReJesus” by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with these names, you should definitely pick this book up because they are among the most articulate and well-thought-out voices in the “missional theology” discussion today. I would highly recommend nearly anything from either of these two authors to give perspective and depth to whatever you have heard called, “missional”.
At under 200-pages, I expected ReJesus to be a rather quick read. I expected to find a popularized, easy-to-read summary of what it means to be missional.
But, while the book is clearly written and very understandable, it was anything but a quick read. I found myself reading paragraphs over and over, not because the authors didn’t write clearly, but because there were so many thoughts to explore and rethink in every sentence.
This work is clearly more than a popularized summary of what it means to be missional. This is a concisely written missional theology manifesto. It has depth of thought and intentionality that went beyond my expectations.
ReJesus is a book aimed at redeveloping Christology as the center of the modern church. Or as they state it,
“to reinstate the central role of Jesus in the ongoing spiritual life of the faith and in the life and mission of God’s people… it is an attempt to recalibrate the mission of the church around the person and work of Jesus.”
The critique of the writers is that the church has, over many centuries, gotten sidetracked from the person of Jesus to a system of morality, liturgy, ritual and theology/philosophy. Hirsch and Frost both argue that though these other things may not be necessarily bad, that our first call is to follow the life pattern of Jesus.
In this return to making Jesus central they challenge us to re-evaluate how our personal relationship to Jesus should look, how our church organization should function and work, what our preaching should focus on, and the type of things we teach and model that should prized. It is a call to ACT and LIVE like Christ, not simply WORSHIP and THEOLOGIZE about him.
In one very excellent chapter, they even challenge our personal picture of Jesus in light of the gospels. We are taken on a journey through the art that has depicted Jesus over the many centuries to see the impact that it has had on forming our perception of him.
This is an excellent book. It draws heavily on critiques of Christendom from Soren Kierkegaard and Jacques Ellul (who wrote another excellent book titled, “The Subversion of Christianity”). It is full of quotes from both of these excellent thinkers and is obviously heavily influenced by their work. Both Kierkegaard and Ellul are brilliant but difficult to read, so this book may be a good source to make sense of their ideas without the extra effort.
In the end, this is a book I would highly recommend for anyone wanting to seriously wrestle with the issues that church faces in today’s culture. I would caution that it is not an “easy read,” so if you’re looking for something a little more popular, look elsewhere. But, for those of you who wanna dig in, get dirty and start thinking, this is the book for you.
MY RATING: 3.5 out of 5 stars