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Posts Tagged ‘frank viola’

First, an apology…. I received this book from Thomas Nelson for free in exchange for a legit review. The only thing they asked is that the review go out on Memorial Day. Sadly, I missed that date and apologize for being tardy.

 Now, to the review….

In an effort for full disclosure, I did not think I was going to be real fond of this book due to my past experience of reading “Pagan” by Frank Viola and some of the things I had heard on Leonard Sweet. Then I read the “Introduction” and thought “Wow!” My expectations went up as I highly agreed with the authors that the modern church is struggling when it comes to Christ. That in the past, the church had a problem with understanding the human side of Chris but that it now embraces the human side while losing touch with the Divine. That’s been a dynamic switch in just the last 10-15 years. We need a healthy understanding of both as Christ was 100% both.

Then, I got into the book and it became what I thought it would be and I was disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong. There are many wonderful points, concepts and truths about Christ in the writings but you have to bring a balanced outlook to it. They have a position that everything is about Christ, everything is to be seen through Christ,  and drive that point home over, over, and over. It comes off like a college professor telling you any other way of looking at things is ignorant and a lessor understanding. I had the same problem with “Pagan” (which was a book I was excited to get until I read). It’s very much, “this is my take on things and everyone else is off base”.

So what is wrong with everything being about Jesus? There was no balance of the importance of the Trinity. Through the book, it kept referring that they would talk more about the Trinity in chapter 10. Chapter 10 was seriously lacking. Even Jesus said he does nothing of His own accord but only does what His Father is doing. It’s cool if they were saying, “Here’s an interesting way of reading the Bible. Read it from the beginning to end through the lens of Jesus and you’ll be amazed.” I say the same thing to others about reading the Bible from beginning to end through the lens of seeing God’s redemptive plan of bringing people back to Him. But to say it’s the only way and all else is wrong….. it’s pretty unbalanced.

I also struggle when things are twisted a tad to make the point the author wants to make. For instance, chapter 6 is started by quoting a tweet that said “There is no greater cause that you can give your life to than the cause of Jesus Christ.” The author then puts “Hmmm….so now Jesus Christ is a cause”. They start saying that this mentality reduces Jesus to nothing more than any other cause page on Facebook. Now, do you see what they did? The person who sent the tweet never said Jesus was a cause. They twisted it to the point they wanted to make and that drives me crazy! The cause of Jesus Christ seems to be the Great Commission. That doesn’t just sound like a great cause, it seems like the only one that encompasses all else!

At another point, they list names of Christian Living books that make it all about the individual and they want to turn those points that focus to you and correct them by turning them back to Jesus. Come on, guys. There is a place for all of these books (even the ones I don’t like personally) and we don’t need to tear other resources down by name to make a point. It’s one thing if they were heretical but it’s another if it’s just another point of view or talking about another area of Christian living you are not passionate about.

Another thing that bugs me is when people “count” how many times they hear a word and make big deductions about it. Let me explain. At one point, they say they have each gotten into the habit of counting how often they hear preachers say the name “Jesus Christ” and since they don’t hear the name as often as they like, it’s a sign of the bigger problem. Can we judge content on content please? I remember in the late 80’s (yes I remember the late 80’s) when a local pastor wrote a critical review of a Michael W. Smith CD saying Smith was of Satan because none of the songs on the CD said “Jesus” in them. I wrote back the list of songs I could put on a classic hymns CD (then cassette) that don’t mention Jesus in them as well but are very God centered. Stop using small observations to make big points.

That said, there is a great section on “Bethany” that I am going to use as a catalyst to study more. But for the most part, you can go to your local Christian bookstore (the only place you should buy your books as you support local ministry unless if you don’t have one), pick up the book, turn to page 22. read the full paragraph under the title “The Person-Driven Life” (which I assume is a twist on “Purpose Driven Life” that ironically starts with the phrase “It’s not about you!”), and then put the book down. You will get from that paragraph what the rest of the book is trying to say.

Again, can be an interesting read for many but don’t get as militant as the authors on it. Please.

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