I have never read anything by Leonard Sweet before, but I was warned by friends of Sweets “Emergent” and even “Liberal” tendencies. I’ve read a few things by Frank Viola and appreciate some of what he has had to say, but by no means all. So you might say I picked up Jesus Manifesto (5 Stars) with mediocre expectations.
I was in for a real treat!
I have never read a book more enthralled with the Supremacy of Christ than I have here. With a broad stroke and great theological precision, these authors have enlarge my image of Christ and challenged me at times, and on many other occasions I found myself cheering, “Union with Christ! Union with Christ!”
As I’ve been trying to wrestle through the Biblical Covenants and doctrines such as “Justification”, “Sanctification”, “Predestination”, “Election”, and “Soteriology”, I find myself returning to the doctrine of Union with Christ (i.e., “In Christ”) as the starting and ending point for all of these other doctrines.
Rich in theology, particularly that bit we call “Union with Christ”, the doctrine of “in Christ” is the only possible way to convey anything about us and our mission in a Biblical fashion. The authors, in a sheer moment of brilliance as great wordsmiths, manage to convey the concept of “Union with Christ” in a way I only wished I had thought of first: “If God wrote your biography, it would be Jesus Christ” [p. 43].
As He is, so are we in this world – 1 John 4:17
At point after point these authors tear down anything which vies Christ for supremacy. Ministry is not the point, apologetics is not the point, spiritual gifts are not the point, a “sense” of his presence is not the point, “spiritual” or “religious” pursuits are not the point. The point is Christ.
Nothing can ever be preached apart from Christ! If in Church you are learning about “Worship”, “Evangelism”, “Christian Living”, “End Times”, “Social Activism”, “Spiritual Gifts” or any other hundreds of subjects, and if Christ is not the center in every one of those sermons, then Christ is not being portrayed supremely as he should.
Christ is all I need. You can strip everything else away from me, and I would still be left with Christ. Take away my gifts and my ministry; take away signs and wonders; take way the sense of his presence; take away my ability to read; and take away every spiritual and religious pursuit I have, and I will still have Christ. And in having Him, I have everything. – p. 22 Bold mine
What a powerful sentiment.
[Disclaimer: Jesus Manifesto was provided by Thomas Nelson through the Booksneeze program for the purpose of this review.]