I have appreciated Jared Wilson’s blog The Gospel-Driven Church: it keeps bringing us back to the centrality of the gospel. It’s also why his new book, Your Jesus Is Too Safe, is so important.
His agenda is to counteract the portrait of Jesus that is more likely culturally-defined than Biblically-defined. He has chapters on “Jesus the Promise,” “Jesus the Prophet,” “Jesus the Forgiver,” etc. He is winsome and colloquial in tone (like the good blogger he is), but also stubbornly insistent about drawing his portrait of Jesus in biblical colors only.
From an interview with Jen of Lintefiniel Musing:
Jen: Is there one main point that you hope people will take away from the book?
Jared: Yes. Well, two (or three). That we are worse than we feared but we are loved more than we imagined. And that Jesus is all-surpassingly awesome.
Many of us claim to follow Jesus. The question Jared is raising is: What Jesus? Have we decided to follow a Jesus who fits in neatly with our lives the way we want to live them? A Jesus who doesn’t challenge our lives might be comforting, but He certainly isn’t the real one. Remember the rich man who came to Jesus and asked what he lacked in order to be saved. Jesus told him quite simply: sell everything that you have and give all the money to the poor (Luke 18:18-29).
David Bish of The Blue Fish Project:
Jared Wilson's book is meaty and engaging, with a touch of inoffensive resurgence humour. What might offend you are some of the facets he shows us of who Jesus is, but that is for you to wrestle with if your Jesus is too safe. This is my new go-to book on Jesus, assuming it gets a UK publisher.
I remember meeting Jared Wilson a few months ago at a Panera Bread in Nashville. We
only had a few minutes to get to know each other, but in the time I did have with him, he seemed to be a very genuine, gospel-centered, humble man. As I have had the opportunity to get to know some of his friends and colleagues here in Nashville, I have learned that my assumptions were true.
Overall, I enjoyed this book as it helps to provide a multidimensional biblical view of Christ. Had I attempted to write such a work, I might have added a chapter called ‘Jesus the Teacher’, but to Jared’s credit, he covers some of this in the chapter called ‘Jesus the Man’. I believe the importance of Jesus being a teacher deserves its own chapter however.
This is a man passionate about his Savior, amazed by him and, frankly, shocked that you aren't floored by Jesus too. And if you read this book and aren't more passionate about Jesus, I wonder if you were paying attention. His enthusiasm is contagious and ought to move you when you're done.
Jared's done a lot for my faith over the years, and I think this book will do a lot for the faith of those who chose to read it. It will stick with you and make you think. I highly recommend it.
Jared is at home talking about Christ. Each chapter opens with an examination of the historical background surrounding that aspect of the Savior’s ministry. Thus, the chapter on Christ as shepherd examines what it meant to be a shepherd, or the chapter on Jesus as the promise looks at the Messianic expectations of first century Judaism (Messiah was to come in the wilderness, etc.). After conducting this initial foray into the history behind the theology, Jared examines the text of the Gospels, showing just how radical this Jesus was.
Daniel also ran an interview with me today. An excerpt:
Daniel: In chapter 1, you state: “The promise is the king himself. The promise is Jesus.” This is an excellent thought: the promise to Christians is God Himself. Do the gloves have to come off to show that this is the true message of Christianity in a world of salvation prayers, prosperity gospels, and general man-centeredness? If so, how does the local church distinguish themselves from and deal with these other gospels within a community?
Jared: I’m gonna come at this question from another angle, if that’s okay. Because I think what you’re essentially asking is this: How do we get this message into more churches (or every church, if that’s possible). And I think that will take, yes, gloves coming off within pastoral tribes. It’s trickle down. Most evangelicals have no idea how big and how central the gospel is, and they won’t know because our sort of tribe for all intents and purposes exists in a vacuum. They don’t know we’re here, and when they do, they see we’re critical of what they’re involved in, so they tune us out. But they love their dynamic, engaging pastors who CEO their big churches. If we could get to THOSE guys, we could revolutionize evangelicalism with the gospel. (Or God would, not us, but you know what I mean.)
The cynical will say it cant’ be done. And they’re probably right. This is why Bible Belt evangelicalism will supposedly be gone in a generation. Or one of the reasons why evangelicalism is collapsing (if you’re an iMonk fan).
But if we could somehow reach and convince all these movers and shakers in other pastoral tribes, we could reach the majority of evangelicals.
I see some positive signs. That Francis Chan and Matt Chandler speak among the Catalyst and Exponential crowd bodes well. And likewise that guys like Driscoll are buddies with guys in the “arena church” crowd. That could be one of the weird benefits of the multi-site church movement. I’m not a fan of the whole video venue thing, but it has caused a blending of pastoral tribes, and I’m hoping the Driscolls, Chandlers, and Chans of the world are having great, respectful, fruitful influence on other leaders. And I hope they’ll be willing to go knuckle to knuckle when the glory of the gospel is on the line.