I received this book for free in exchange for agreeing to review it. I shouldn’t have made that deal — but it was an honest mistake. You see, I’ve read some of Frank Viola’s books, and he usually writes well-researched, intellectually meaty books — exactly the kind of books I like.
But Jesus Manifesto is really more of an inspirational or devotional book — and I just don’t like that form of literature. I’ve read the reviews at Amazon and throughout the internet, and that seems to be the split. Reviewers who are into serious theology find the book shallow and even say things like —
As for me, I have read the first several chapters and each time I read a chapter it is hard to work up any enthusiasm for going back to read the next chapter. It’s not that they are saying anything I necessarily disagree with, in fact much of it is spot on. But the book insinuates that these authors are telling us something new in telling us that the Christian life is all about Jesus.
That’s how I feel. It says of lots of true and even needed things, but the authors are so focused on Jesus that just as soon as they introduce an idea, they return to doxology. And doxology is a legitimate form of Christian writing. I was just hoping for more.
But then, other reviewers say things like —
Viola and Sweet have penned a masterpiece in my opinion. They have successfully shown, through scripture, how Jesus Christ penetrates every point of life because He is life. As I read this book, I found myself at a loss for words. This review won’t do the book justice. I was challenged by this book greatly. Challenged to love Him and see Him as never before. Convicted as well. This book is about a person.
Here’s a flavor of the book itself —
Genuine church life is born when groups of people are intoxicated with a glorious unveiling of the their Lord. Jesus Christ is the only foundation upon which an authentic church can be built. Anything else would be wood, hay, and stubble. Any work that come out of from Christ is immortal. It will never turn to ash even though fire may fall on it.
The calling of every person involved in church planting, then, is to build the ekklesia upon a ground-breaking revelation of the Son of God — a revelation that burns in the fiber of their being and leaves God’s people overwhelmed, bowled over, reeling, and awash with the glories of Christ.
May God give us more people who have had a head-on-collision with Jesus, have caught a glimpse of his radiance, and as a result, can meld a group of people together with a living knowledge of their God in the face of Jesus Christ. May He raise up countless servants who can faithfully steward the divine mystery and turn it loose in this world.
If you enjoy books that encourage us to have “a head-on-collision with Jesus,” this is your book.