What is Christianity? It is Christ. Nothing more, nothing less. Christianity is not an ideology and not a philosophy. Christianity is the Good News that beauty, truth, and goodness are found in a Person. And conversion? It\'s more than a change in direction; it\'s a change in connection.
- Sweet + Viola = Strange Bedfellows
This book makes strange bedfellows of two leaders whose writings are usually gobbled up by their respective small tribes of devotees.
The book itself is an expansion of the document, which goes by the same name, the two posted online in June 2009.
Viola has an anti-institutional church bent that he's voiced before (see Pagan Christianity and ReImagining Church), while Sweet comes across as wishing he were a 15th century French philosopher.
The format of the book doesn't disclose who is writing which portion, but it comes obvious: chapters with anti-church sentiments are from Viola, while chapters with quotes from random monks are from Sweet.
Manifestos, typically, are written to be punchy, controversial, and specific. I sensed none of that in this book. Instead, I found this book to be cheesy, uncontroversial, and vague. They never named names but only went on ad nauseum with metaphors describing how high and lofty Jesus is. If you had never heard of Jesus, you would come away from this book without realizing that he was a real human being.
The problem I have with this book is not its call to follow and worship Jesus, but that they never really define which Jesus it is to whom we should ascribe worth. Is it the "homeboy Jesus" of the Hollywood-types, the "baby Jesus" of Ricky Bobby, or the Jesus who lived, was killed in a public execution, and was resurrected within the ongoing story of people who believed themselves to be called by God.
In the final analysis, it seems that Sweet and Viola want to challenge the people who are intent on praying and embodying the Lord's Prayer. It seems they want those people to give up that agenda and, instead, become modern-day, middle-class mystics who meet in suburban house churches, chanting to a disembodied Jesus while sipping coffee from Starbucks.
This may be harsh, and not everyone will agree with my assessment; but it's just the way I see it.
- Good, but didn't hold my interest
“The Jesus Manifesto” by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola (narrated by Sean Runnette) discusses the focal point of Christianity: Jesus Christ.
For the most part, I agreed with the theology of the book. The authors discuss the fundamental difference between Christianity and other religions. It is having a relationship with Jesus Christ, not a set of moral rules. However, some of the things said were confusing to me. I'm not sure if I just misunderstood what was said or if I didn't understand theologically where the authors were coming from. One example was when the authors mentioned that Jesus couldn't do what He did without the Father. I understand that Jesus submitted His will to the Father, but the way the authors said it, it sounded as if Jesus and the Father were two different people. Also, the Bible makes it clear that Jesus was completely human and completely God. The authors discuss the trinity in a later chapter, and I totally agree with what they said.
Sean Runnette narrated the book well. He had a pleasant voice and good pacing. However, it was hard for me to keep focused on listening. I'm not sure if it was the content of the audiobook or the narration.
This review was written as part of the christianaudio Reviewers Program. I received “The Jesus Manifesto” by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola free of charge.
- Great Material, Poor Narration
Loved this book and give it 5 stars; however, I found Sean Runnette's reading style very affected and difficult to listen too. Not sure I could even pass on the audio version. Good thing I have the print version too and I will pass that on.
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- Best Christian book I bought in years!
The Jesus Manifesto is what I've been looking for!!!
This EXTRAORDINARY re-presentation of Jesus is what I've been praying for! I've always wanted to follow Jesus but end up frustrated and feeling defeated because I didn't really know who this Jesus I was trying to follow.
Thank God I now have this book in my hands!!!
Listen to the authors' interviews at
- SNAPSHOT: The best thing I can...
SNAPSHOT: The best thing I can say about it is that it's a vividly true picture of the Jesus we encounter in the Bible...but "Jesus Manifesto" didn't 'wow' me.
In 2009, evangelical pastor Francis Chan told us to remember The Forgotten God. American Christians are largely "self-focused consumers rather than self-sacrificing servants," all because "the Holy Spirit is tragically neglected and, for all practical purposes, forgotten" (Chan, 15-16).
Flashfoward exactly one year later. In 2010, Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola argue in Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ that American Christians have "Jesus Deficit Disorder." They say, "The person of Jesus has become increasingly politically incorrect and is being replaced by the language of 'justice,' 'morality,' 'values,' and 'leadership principles'" (Sweet, xvi).
The contrast is amusing - and a little sad, despite the fact that both are theologically solid. Both complain vaguely of complacent Christians and both offer the silver bullet solution. It just seems odd to attempt to divide up the holy Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - into "solutions" instead of exploring how the three Persons of God, as an eternal community of love, are together the source of our life and therefore the solution to all our self-centeredness. That's a wordy way of saying "it's both."
Let me get back to Jesus Manifesto. The best thing I can say about it is that it's a vividly true picture of the Jesus we encounter in the Bible. Sweet and Viola elevate Jesus as our divine savior instead of a more human-tilting exploration common among most books on "the historical Jesus." The book would probably be a good glimpse into Christ for newer Christians or those looking to get back to basics.
However, I wasn't wowed Jesus Manifesto. In my limited experience with both authors, I've enjoyed Sweet more than Viola. I expected a bit more. Again, it's not a bad book - it's just not a great book.
I skimmed through the print edition but "read" it on audiobook. I'm not crazy about Sean Runnette's voice either, the narrator for Jesus Manifesto. Mr. Runnette's voice is a little monotonous for my taste.
All in all, worth checking out.
The audio edition was free for review from Christianaudio.com as part of their generous review program.
- Sean Runnette did an excellent...
Sean Runnette did an excellent job reading this book. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite narrators at christianaudio. His voice inflection was great as he read with feeling as though he was exhorting the reader himself to look more to Christ.
Jesus Manifesto is a worthwhile book to read. It will cause you to look hard at your beliefs and how you live your life in light of the reality of Jesus Christ. I would hope that those who read this volume would seek to make much of Christ in all they do. Unfortunately, the church has lost its vision of Christ today; hence, the necessity of writing and publishing this book. I couldn’t help but think of the Puritans as I read Jesus Manifesto–those great divines who made much of Christ at every opportunity. While many will not read the Puritans for various reasons, they will read Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. In so doing, I believe the church will be healthier and more effective.
- The audiobook isn't that bad, but...
The audiobook isn't that bad, but isn't amazingly good, either. This book is a more technical book, thus I recommend the audio only for those who can keep up with it. I'm in my Senior year at Liberty and I'm not tracking on all four cylinders. However, the narration isn't all too bad. Sean Runnette is the narrator for this book as well, and he stepped up his game a bit.
Find out the score at: http://infinitlove.com/blog/?p=2355
- Without a doubt, Jesus Christ is...
Without a doubt, Jesus Christ is the center of our faith. One cannot read the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) without seeing the supremacy and redemptive work of Christ. That is the argument put forth in the new book by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola called Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ. The authors have come together to emphasize and uplift Christ in Scripture, in the world, and in us.
The authors offer a well-written and well-thought out book on the supremacy of Christ and how he is the center of everything. The desire of the authors is strong and their concern is much understood. Throughout the book they warn against bad dichotomies and seek to provide the reader with a more balance faith. Chrisitanity is about Christ and nothing else. Everything else is a distraction.
The authors attacks on some of these dichotomies is worth discussion. Perhaps best is the warning against the social gospel on one end and the other extreme. Their attack on the social gospel was important especially as many postmodern Christians look to these authors for insight.
Overall, the authors offer a great book with important insight, but I did have some real concerns. First, I find it unfortunate that though Christ was declared supreme and central, I found that the authors said little about the gospel. This doesn't mean that they didn't discuss the gospel, but that oftentimes I found myself reading about Christ almost apart from the gospel as if the gospel is only one part of Christ. What makes Christ so central is His work in reconciling God with us. The authors did mention atonement and warned against wrong ideas of the gospel (like the social gospel) but failed to adequately lay out a firm discussion of the gospel.
The other problem with the book was its bend towards mysticism. The authors heavily emphasize Christ living in and through us. They draw on the biblical language to make their point and they are correct in saying that Christ lives in us. However, the way and frequency in which the authors wrote on this subject sounded more mystical than biblical. I do not believe this was intended, but that the authors felt that this reality is missing from modern Evangelicalism.
The Jesus Manifesto is an important book that Christians need to take seriously, but at the same time need to cautiously approach it. Though I have my theological issues, the book has a lot of good in it. They emphasize and balance the two natures of Christ and conclude by listing dozens of attributes of who Christ really is. It is time that we make Christ the center and focus of our lives and faith. But in the process, let us not forget the gospel by which Christ made possible.
I received this book as an audio download for review by christianaudio.com #
- This was first posted on my...
This was first posted on my blog, Jacob's Café.
Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola's The Jesus Manifesto looked rather interesting when I got a review copy of the audiobook from christianaudio. I've heard many good things about Sweet and Viola, so I was excited to listen to this book.
For a text that is based in so much passion, I once again was disappointed by the fact that neither of the authors read their text. So much is missed when the author does not read their own text.
I think that would have made a big difference here. Much of the passion was lost. In fact, a lot of the book seemed overstated. Although God can never truly be overstated, the use of metaphor and hyperbolic adjectives was just too extreme. The point was lost.
While I agree with the intended worshipful comments, I got bored with the book.
Also, the basic premise that the church has Jesus Deficit Disorder (a lack of focus on Christ) is just not one I really buy. I agree that many churches and people definitely suffer from this, the communities of which I have been a part have focused a lot on Christ.
The "Jesus Deficit Disorder" is just one example of a metaphor or phrase that appears clever at first, but just comes across as cheesy when paired with so many other such phrases. It gets old.
It's not a bad book. If you want a book that is a devoted worhsip of Jesus, Jesus Manifesto does it well. You can even sign a Jesus Manifesto. These are good things. The audiobook just didn't really move me at all...
- If your not familiar with these...
If your not familiar with these guys then you are missing out! I love them & their work. I have resigned myself to only taking in life giving words. I have, at least twice, turned off my player because I could feel the life draining out of me as more religious sludge was dumped into my ears. Not so with this one, as I could feel my spirit leap from my self as these life giving words poured into me. Thank you Len & Frank for sharing the life, you guys rock.
- I didnt see much different about...
I didnt see much different about this book than other books written about Jesus. there were only a handful of times where i thought to myself, 'Hm, i've never heard it put that way before." For the most part this was refresher.
Altho, i did get to enjoy listening to it while multitasking. I listened to the entire audiobook while playing Modern Warfare 2 online. i'm sure the writers would be proud.
- In many ways I am of...
In many ways I am of the mind that this book probably did not need to be written. It is not that I do not think that we pay enough attention to Christ. But that I am not sure that another book about Christ and the problem of not paying attention to Christ really will change many minds and hearts. The authors directly challenge me theologically at the beginning of the book. And around the middle of the book there is a section on the narcissism of most Christianity. They cite the top 100 Christian books in 2000, just 6 were about the bible, 4 were about Jesus, and 3 about Evangelism. By their count, about half were about family and parenting and most of the rest were basically self-help. They charge that we have made Christianity about “self discovery rather than God discovery.” I honestly do not disagree with their point, rather I am not sure that thinking about how be be Christian as a parent, or as a spouse, etc., is not what Jesus wants us to do. (And my guess is that other people could categorize the books differently.)
Sweet and Viola do not like the question, “What would Jesus do (WWJD)? Because too often when people ask that they are really asking what would the Galilean man that lived 2000 years ago do. The authors instead suggest that instead we should be asking, what would Jesus have us do, because he has placed us here and now as his personal representative. The fear of the authors about the WWJD question is that the WWJD Jesus becomes a cause driven Jesus, a single dimension Jesus that neither reflects Jesus’ humanity and all the complexity that is reflected in Jesus’ humanity, or Jesus’ divinity and all the wisdom and holiness that is reflected in Jesus as God.
Another idea, that is probably more controversial, is about the greatness of Christ. They deal with it in a particular way. Instead of directly calling it “truth”, they talk about Christ as the “quintessential human”. Jesus allows us to be more well rounded human beings. We are not strait-jacketed into one way of being human, but because of Christ’s fullness (completeness) in his humanity we can become more by being the individuals that we were created to be. And because Christ has an enormous range (or reach) in his humanness, Christ “allows one person to be a Calvinist while allowing another to be an Armenian.” They sidestep a bit by saying most Armenians ”pray like Calvinists” and most Calvinists “live like Armenians”.
In the end, I appreciate the heart. There are a lot of good quotes like, “The best we can do is change the world, only Jesus can save the world.” And (this is a paraphrase) “Illusionary religious says fear not trust in God and he will see that none of the things that you fear will happen to you, but real religion says fear not the things you fear are quite likely to happen to you, but they are nothing to be afraid of.”
In spite of some really good quotes, the book as a whole felt pedantic. It was as if the authors were telling us readers we believe wrong and as proof we authors are going to take scripture slightly out of context and take a lot of small social events to show a large theological deficit (a correlation not causation problem.) For the most part I agree with the authors intent. I think we need to spend more time focusing on Jesus. The section on justice and mercy and on social justice was excellent. But it felt like I was being beaten by the truth, not encouraged and edified by it.
Book was provided for review by christianaudio.com
- Wow what an book!! This is...
Wow what an book!! This is so much more than just another audio book about Jesus. This is encounter with Jesus that I really need everyday. This is not a devotional, although it could be used as such, this is a wonderful uncovering of who I should be worshipping and living for.
I don’t know what I was expecting from this audio, but it has certainly got me thinking and meditating about Jesus so much more, something I’ve been unsuccessful at for years. This audio has put me on the right track and I think I’m going to get a print copy, as well as re-reading my bible in a new way.
The narrator, Sean Runette was very clear and easy to understand, but I did find that his delivery is too theatrical at times. He came across as trying to be mystical and it didn’t work for me. Maybe this was a good thing as it made me really concerntrate on the content instead of just the listening experience.
Thanks to christianaudio.com’s reviewers program for this copy.
- I listened to the Audiobook from...
I listened to the Audiobook from Christianaudio.com (I'm a reviewer).
The narrator is great. He fits the style of book perfectly. He shows just enough emphasis to make it exciting, but not overpower it. I use the 2x playback speed on the iPhone (I generally talk fast so I like to listen to others talk fast)
I really enjoyed the book. In a world of tolerance and self gratification, this book hits on a harsh (but true) reality. Being a Christian is about CHRIST. We are saved by Christ for the glory of God to the ends of the earth.
This book isn't a step by step guide to become like Jesus or how to have a better life. This book is simply aimed at showing you the error of the Church's lack of focus on the very God who came paid for our sins. This book is aimed at showing you the Jesus of the Bible.
I would def. recommend this book!