Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blog Tour Tuesday Rundown

Excerpts from Tuesday's reviews and interviews from the Your Jesus is Too Safe Blog Tour.

Brian D. at Phoenix Preacher:
Brian: How optimistic or pessimistic are you regarding the body of Christ, en masse, in the U.S.? What about the global church?

Jared: I'm a biblical realist, so I'm extremely pessimistic about the Bride, but I'm extremely optimistic about the Groom and his love for her. And like him, I think even the job of critics is to love the Bride. I love the church. A lot. A lot, a lot, a lot. And that's why I get pretty passionate about her returning to watchfulness on the Groom.

I am pessimistic about us, because we are sinners. And the statistics show we're not discipling each other very well. I was gunshy on the whole "collapse of evangelicalism" thing when I first heard my friend Michael Spencer predict it, but I am with him now. In any event, Tim Keller predicted the same thing, so it has to be true. :D

But I'm optimistic about the future of the Body of Christ because God is sovereign and Jesus is Lord. Not only that, Jesus who is Lord promised to build his church and promised it would prevail.

As for the global church, depending on which localities we're talking about, I am disappointed or proud. The church is spreading where persecution is heavy, as it always has.

I'm heavily optimistic because I believe, for better or worse, the Groom will present us spotless before the throne.

Warren Kelly:
This is the kind of book that could easily turn into a heavily theological treatise, with lots of references to Greek grammar. In other words, it could turn into a book that you’d only read if your professor required it. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Your Jesus Is Too Safe is a book that can be read by anyone – I could see this being used as the fuel for a series at any church Bible study or book club. The writing style is familiar and conversational — my wife had trouble believing I was reading a theology book because of how often I was laughing (make sure you read the footnotes — any book that references Homestar Runner in the footnotes is a book worth reading!). But just because it’s easy to read doesn’t mean that it’s theologically light. There’s are outstanding discussions of the nature of the atonement, the deity of Christ, the humanity of Christ, etc., all presented in a way that the concepts can be easily understood, along with the implications for our daily lives.

Justin Holcomb at Mockingbird:
This book is winsome, insightful, and packed with the good news from and about Jesus. Your Jesus is Too Safe sets up the problem of myriad Jesuses throughout church and cultural history, each made in our own images and reflective of our own prejudices, preferences, and sins.

The book reads like a great blend of Paul Zahl’s The First Christian, Stephen Prothero’s American Jesus, and Mark Driscoll’s Vintage Jesus. Wilson’s aim is to provide a fresh look at “the historical Jesus” but in a tone and context more pastoral than academic, but he doesn’t leave the academic behind.

Sherry Early:
In the end I was captivated, not by Jared’s writing or his wit, but by the person he was writing about: Jesus. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what I had missed in my fifty plus years of doing church. I’ve been a disciple of Jesus Christ for a long time, but in reading Your Jesus Is Too Safe, I fell in love with Jesus all over again. That’s not safe, but it sure is fun and rich and Awe-ful, in the best and most archaic sense of the word.

Catherine Martin:
Jared Wilson’s writing is clear and easy to understand. He uses a number of cultural references, not all of which I understood, but I’m pretty sure that’s because I’m a 42 year old homemaker and not a 28 year old hip, urban single. I did have issue with one thing. He inserted a good bit of humor, which was fine, except that sometimes it came right in the middle of a serious passage and was rather jarring. I think a little more discretion in the use of humor could have made some of those spots more effective.

So, I give this book an A+ in my rating scale. It is not hard to read, but it is meaty stuff. This book has motivated me to go back to the Gospels and re-evaluate my picture of Jesus.

Dan Cruver at Together 4 Adoption:
Dan: In chapter five, “Jesus the Shepherd,” you talk about learning to see the world through Jesus’ eyes. More and more Christians are becoming passionate about social justice issues. How might looking through Jesus’ eyes at the injustices of our world impact our perspective on and involvement in issues of social justice, both as it relates to the victims and the perpetrators of injustice?

Jared: The first thing that comes to mind when I hear about the current Christian fascination with social justice — which I’m a fan of — is that seeing these issues with Jesus’ eyes means seeing eternity with them too, beyond the problem that is literally before us. I talked with a guy recently who serves at a soup kitchen for the homeless and he was really sort of annoyed by a preacher who was coming in and preaching the gospel. My friend was saying, “Why would you preach about hell to homeless people? They know more about hell than we do.” And maybe they do. But why would you want to feed a guy a meal for a day but leave him lost for eternity. Maybe that preacher’s delivery was a little rough around the edges. Maybe he lacked sensitivity. I don’t know. But I do know this either/or stuff is killing us and setting up false dichotomies that plenty of younger Christians are willing to ecclesiologically impale themselves upon.

I think if we saw the problems of the world the way Jesus saw them, we would both be moved by compassion to wanting to feed, clothe, heal, and fix and also moved by compassion to wanting to share the bread of life as well. If you’re Jesus, you know man doesn’t live on bread alone.

Mike Leake:
Mike: Is it possible that your book is the only one in print which contains the word “waaaaambulance”?

Jared: Quite possible. Also, I guarantee it's the only Christian book that employs the phrase "burninate the peasants" and suggests one listen to heavy metal when reading the minor prophets.

Jamal Jivanjee:
One minute I would be laughing, the next minute I wanted to put my face to the ground in worship of the Jesus that was being brought into clearer focus. While this book is not an in-depth work on the nature of the Kingdom of God, I appreciated Jared's emphasis that the kingdom of God was the message Jesus brought to the earth that much of the American Church knows nothing about. This book created a hunger in me to know more about the reality of the kingdom of God & what Jesus really is like.

Dave Winter:
Jared’s first book ‘Your Jesus is too safe’ is by far the best book that I have read this year . . . An added bonus are the footnotes. Don’t skip them. Wilson is so hilarious - I haven’t laughed so hard in my life.

1 comment:

Jared said...

I wish to make a few comments about this batch of interviews/reviews.

First, the interview with Dan Cruver was by far my favorite because the questions were so interesting. They all centered on orphan care, which is the purpose of Dan's blog. I appreciated being able to contextualize the message/point of the book for a specific audience with a specific kingdom cause.

(Everybody else's interview questions were great as well, especially since, aside from the standard "Tell me about your book" type intro, most asked different questions without realizing it.)

Jamal's review includes some critical analysis, the most of any review so far, and I appreciate that.

First, I want to respond to Jamal's critique of Ed Stetzer's words in the Foreword. I do not believe Jamal understood what Ed was communicating. Anyone who knows Ed or is even cursorily familiar with his work and writing knows that he does not equate size with success. I can see how this may be misconstrued in the foreword, and maybe it was not as exquisitely written as some of Ed's other stuff, but I think you kinda have to read that into what is written there, which I believe Jamal did (innocently, not maliciously).

Secondly, Jamal takes a couple of my theological arguments to task, claiming they are both "common evangelical mistakes."

The first is that he says I downplay Christ's perfect obedience and attribute his perfection to his divinity.
He is right that I attribute his perfection to his divinity. Jesus was fully God (as well as fully man), so I see no need to fall off the horse on either side.
I don't believe I downplay Jesus's perfect obedience as Jamal says I do, especially since I have an entire discussion where I submit that Jesus could have sinned but didn't. I also have an entire section titled "Jesus Was an Integrated Man" that argues that Jesus was the only man who ever lived who was perfectly in alignment with the Father's will. If that does not affirm Jesus' perfect obedience and congruence of will with the Father, I don't know what else would.

In any event, arguing that Jesus was holy because he was God is not a common evangelical mistake, it is a common evangelical understanding. Because it's not a mistake.

The other "common evangelical mistake" Jamal claims I make is in arguing that Christians have a heart that is deceitful above all things. Jamal argues that that passage from Jeremiah applies to the unregenerate only and that Christians have renewed hearts and can have total victory over sin.

I'm a good Luther fanboy here and disagree. We are saints and sinners, caught in the soteriological already and not yet. My heart is sinful, but I am justified by my faith in Christ's perfect work imputed to me, rendering me clean.

I plead Paul in Romans 7, as well.

Needless to say, I think Jamal overstates to say this is an evangelical mistake. It is good Reformational soteriology. In fact, at the risk of tit for tat, I would argue that Jamal's understanding is a common quasi-Wesleyan mistake, something typically found in some charismatic quarters (Neil Anderson,

Finally, I want to share my appreciation for Jamal as a friend and a co-laborer for the gospel, and for his honesty and authenticity in his appraisal of the book (which he recommends, lest I give a false impression).
His passion for Jesus and the kingdom is infectious and I am honored not only to have him as a brother in Christ but as a reviewer of my book.