Jesus Manifesto

I'm currently reading Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet, and Frank Viola. I received a pre-release copy from Thomas Nelson publishers and it's a pretty great book. I've read a few books by Frank Viola and I really appreciate his approach to Christian spirituality and his thoughts on the cultural trappings that we bring to the church. I've also read So Beautiful by Len Sweet and really love his writing style and the way he stretches my brain (he's deep). So, ever since I heard about their collaboration on this book I've been looking forward to reading it.

So far, I'm loving this book. It's full of great thoughts about the way we approach our faith and the way we relate to church, spirituality and the person of Jesus Christ. Their focus in this book is to show that we, as believers, need to re-focus on who we are following. Are we following a church? Are we following a Pastor? Are we following tradition? Or, are we following Jesus? Are we living a purpose driven life, or a person driven life?

The basic idea I'm getting from this book is Jesus, plus nothing. That's it. That's all we need. There are a few books out right now that are focusing on this theme, most notably Naked Gospel by Andrew Farley, and this one, Jesus Manifesto by Sweet and Viola. I'm incredibly hopeful that many people will read these books and center their lives around the one who gave us life.


Fred Phelps' son speaks out

Fred Phelps is the leader of the "God Hates Fags" group based out of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. His son, Nate Phelps is speaking out about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father as a young boy and about how he supports a new law going to the Supreme Court that would limit where and when the hate group could picket. Specifically, banning them from picketing the funerals of soldiers.
I've written about these hatemongers before and I hope this law gets passed. Sadly, I'm sure this interview will just throw more fuel on Fred Phelps' fire as I'm sure he'll use this clip as an argument that he's being persecuted. I'm sure he'll quote Matthew 10:35 "For I have come to turn a man against his father." but I wish Fred would read I John 2:9 "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness." and Luke 6:27, "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you."
There were commands in the Old Testament that Fred, and others like him use to justify their hatred but I wish they could grasp the fact that Jesus came to do away with those commands and give us a new one:

"A new command I give you: LOVE ONE ANOTHER. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
John 13:34-35



BONHOEFFER Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas is really, really great. This is a heavy book. Yes, the subject matter is serious, but I mean this book is heavy, like three pounds. Metaxas is so detailed in his description of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life that's it feels like you are reading every possible bit of information that could be found on him. Metaxas did all the work for us and wrote an amazing biography. This book covers Dietrich's upbringing, family life, spiritual formation, ministry and eventually his involvement in the plot to end Hitler's life and ultimately Bonhoeffer's execution.
Bonhoeffer's insistence that a spiritual life is a life fully lived, in service to God and others, not a life split into sacred and secular divisions seems especially relevant in a culture where we too easily fall into the trap of a lifestyle of consumption and compartmentalization.
I would definitely recommend this book. It was fascinating to read about this theological giant, and about the world he lived in, his thoughts on what it truly meant to be a follower of Jesus, and the struggles he dealt with as he saw the church sit idly by while evil men had their way.

"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer