- Product Review (submitted on July 5, 2010):
This first appeared on my blog, Jacob's Café.
I received two complimentary audiobooks from christianaudio at the same time: Jesus Manifesto (reviewed yesterday) and Humanitarian Jesus by Christian Buckley and Ryan Dobson. I was expecting to like the former more than the latter, but that's exactly the opposite of what happened.
Humanitarian Jesus was much more engaging and legitimately struggling with real-life issues that many Christians are facing today. As being "missional" is one of the hot new things for young Christians, it is important to know what it actually means to be missional.
Social justice is important. So is evangelism. But how do you define each?
That's exactly what this book tackles. The first half of the book is Buckley's argument for finding a delicate balance between both social justice and evangelism (he says both are needed explicitly). And yes, Buckley wrote the whole thing. He says that in the introduction. Dobson helped him get the interviews that comprise the second half. His name probably helps sell copies, but I don't think he was particularly involved.
Buckley is an excellent writer and is definitely on the more conservative end of the missional/social justice spectrum. However, unlike the negative and unfair stereotype of conservatives being unwilling to consider alternatives, Buckley does a great job of looking at all the options when engaging humanitarianism.
This is particularly seen in the second half, in which Buckley interviews a very wide variety of well-known (on the order of Franklin Graham and Tony Campolo) and not-so-well known Christian leaders who also engage in humanitarian work. I found the second half much more interesting and engaging. This is where the reader (or listener) gets to hear from the people who are actually doing the work and how they approach the balance of humanitarianism and evangelism.
The views are on both extremes and everywhere in between. And that is a good thing. It helps the reader/listener really engage all the nuanced issues in the arena of missional living. As Buckley states, the goal of the book is not necessarily to convince people of one perspective or another, but to get people to look at their views again and understand the complexity of the issues. For that, I have a lot of respect. And the book achieves that.
As with other audiobooks, I wish Buckley would have read it himself. The narrator was excellent (one of the best non-author narrators). However, there is something lost when the author does not read his own work, particularly when it comes out of a particular passion.