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New York, NY
3 Stars Out Of 5
Be Cautious and Choose Wisely
June 16, 2014
New York, NY
Bruce Ware's book, "The Man Christ: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ" is simply that: theological reflections on the humanity of Christ-i.e. the branch of Christology that deals with the humanity of Christ. Such reflections, which can easily be interpreted as theological assertions, pivot upon the following statement: "Why the humanity of Christ matters." Thus Ware's book is an attempt to accentuate and draw awareness to the significance of the humanity of Christ in elaborative and elucidative form.
The structure and content of the book is mostly of a theological construct. That is, the book consist of a significant amount of theological jargons and/or terminologies, as well as ideologies, that the average reader may not be familiar with; hence making it difficult to comprehend. Nonetheless, Ware's book is not entirely academic. Occasionally, the reader is drawn from an assertive theological postulation to a homiletic reflection, thus transitioning the reader from a theoretical understanding to a practical, or even empirical, assimilation of the same. Such homiletic ruminations are priceless. In addition, the author uses an array of illustrations and analogies to help drive home his interpretative postulations; thus assisting the reader in understanding what may seem to be a complex theological "reflection." Furthermore, each chapter concludes with a series of reflective applications and discussion questions-which favors group studies. Therefore, though the book in itself is academically tailored, with some effort the average reader can satisfactorily benefit from it-likewise the intellect and/or scholar, though the beneficence of the latter may vary.
It should be noted, however, that Ware's book is fashioned toward an evangelical audience. That is, it is of a specific ideological construct. Ware presents his own theological interpretations, which may be of concurrence with many within the evangelical sphere; however, many of these interpretations are placed up against those of other scholars. Therefore, though Ware's objective may be fundamentally geared toward highlighting the prominence of the humanity of Christ within evangelical circles, such an objective does not escape or sidestep critiquing other scholar's comments, interpretations, and/or opinions on the subject matter. Consequently, a level of subjectivity may have, in fact, influenced Ware's objectivity.
Furthermore, there are many erroneous theological interpretations, as there are correct ones-though the former seems to surpass the latter. There are also a few theological discrepancies.The reader should be cautious, prayerfully scrutinizing Scripture with Scripture, and thus exemplifying the brethren of Berea (Acts 17:10-11).
Moreover, Ware also branches off into diverse subjects, such as: headship and authority between the Godhead (i.e. between Father and Son); masculine and feminine gender issues-which correlate with the former; the necessity of Christ coming as a male and what that entails for the contemporary believer; etc.
Unfortunately, the book (in my opinion) has some grammatical issues, which can be distracting and far from appealing. For example, I am not sure why the author and/or publisher chose to add an s after the name Jesus when describing or communicating possession (e.g. Jesus's); yet for the noun Hebrews the author and/or publisher chooses to use solely the apostrophe (e.g. Hebrews'). Such inconsistency, in my case, is distracting and definitely not appealing. However, such grammatical decisions are left to the discretion of the author and/or publisher. Nevertheless, it's annoying.
Ware impels the reader to think and reason-whether one agrees with him or not, and this is definitely beneficial. Things that may have never been thought of will be thought of. Things that have never been questioned will be questioned. Things that have never been reflected upon will be reflected on.
If allowed, Ware's disquisition can definitely broaden one's horizon, especially if one is new to the world of Christology. However, at the same time, it can also confuse and bewilder those who are theologically ignorant or weak in the faith.
We just finished celebrating Christmas which reminds us of the coming of Jesus. We reflect on this time because it was God's rescue plan to redeem us for our sins. As Christians, we believe that Jesus was God in the flesh, which means He was 100% God and 100% Man. Theologians call this a hyper-static union of two natures in one Person.
Many books have been written to study the deity of Christ, but not many written on the humanity of Christ. Bruce Ware, who wrote an amazing book on the Trinity, has given us a theological look at the humanity of Christ called, The Man Christ Jesus.
This book is a simple and readable book as Ware goes into deep theological truths regarding the humanity of Christ based on the teachings of Scripture. This doctrine is important because without the affirmation of the humanity of Jesus, we would have no hope of a Messiah. While Jesus was also fully God, he was fully man. As a man Jesus was empowered by the Spirit, growing in his faith, and perfectly resisting temptation where Adam did not do in the Garden of Eden. Ware beautifully goes through these truths in a way that a new believer can understand.
One teaching about the humanity of Christ Ware talks about that needs to be addressed is why Jesus died as a man. In this chapter Ware tell us why the TNIV (Today's New International Version, which now the NIV 2011), and any gender neutral translations, are not helping affirm the humanity of Christ. Old Testament Prophecy speaks of an heir, an eternal Son who would come down to rescue His people. Also to be the faithful representative that Adam could not, the Savior had to be a man. No where do you feel that Ware was not downgrading women, but explaining why Jesus had to be a man.
This was a great book and one that should be read after Ware's classic book on the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A must read for every pastor and theologian.
A powerfully helpful book on the humanity of Chris
January 3, 2013
Book Review - The Man Christ Jesus
Tension is characteristic of the Christian faith. It doesn't take long to realize that the Christian's pilgrimage is one fraught with various positions, ideas, and beliefs that appear to be contradictory and yet are convictions we must hold. We experience an "already-not yet" redemption in which we are saved and yet await a final salvation. Our God is three and our God is one. God is sovereign and we have free will. And the list goes on. Author and professor Bruce A. Ware deals with one of seemingly contradictory doctrines held by Christians in his book The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ. Ware addresses the clear biblical fact that our Savior is fully God and fully human. He does so in a manner that clarifies how we ought to think about many of the apparent contradictions. His approach is one of worshipful study of Christ that leads the reader to join him in adoration. And the format of the book lends itself to both individual and group study.
In a relatively short and thus accessible book, only 156 pages, Ware engages with many difficult issues related to the united divine and human natures in the son of Mary who was also the Son of the Most High. Ware presents and satisfactorily addresses the following questions: How could two natures-the divine and the human-coexist? How could one who was divine be truly human? Was Christ able to live a perfect and sinless life of obedience because he was God or did he accomplish this as a human? How should one think about Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, increasing in wisdom and growing in faith? Did Christ really experience temptation as humans do? Was it necessary for Christ to be male? How is Christ's humanity related to the atonement? These questions, and many others, are answered in a way that is understandable and awe inspiring. The author regularly uses helpful illustrations to support his points, some of which I have already shared with others who have also found them edifying. I was very impressed with the amount of ground this book covers and the teaching that it delivers on some very tough questions.
Ware states that he longs for "Jesus to be honoured through the reflections upon his humanity" in The Man Christ Jesus. In reading the book my guess is that his longing will be fulfilled as Christians read and digest work. Ware regularly pauses in his explanations and answers to remind the reader of how certain aspects of Jesus' humanity are glorious and praise-worthy. His consideration of difficulties and queries about Christ's humanity do not terminate on the accumulating of knowledge but lead to adulation and adoration. For example, Ware grapples with how Jesus was tempted and concludes that his temptations were similar in every way to ours and the fact that as God he was impeccable (unable to sin) this does not resist sin from his divinity but rather from his humanity. To this he writes, "For our sake and for our salvation, he steeled his heart to fight temptation as a man, in dependence on his Father and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Praise be to Jesus who, though tempted in every way as we are, never, ever sinned." (85) This response to theological truths encourages the reader to move from thinking in the head to adoring in the heart. Ware's proclivity to pursue praise for Christ from doctrines about Christ is a commendable characteristic of this book.
Finally, this book is very functional due to its format. Each chapter contains a section focused on application as well as a section of questions for further discussion. The applications sections are wonderfully written and contain practical considerations that are pure gold. These support the reader by helping him to apply these significant spiritual truths to everyday life. These practical portions make the book helpful for personal study and growth. I am very glad that Ware included this in his book. The questions for discussion that are positioned at the end of each chapter promote the benefit of this book as a resource for small groups. These questions help clarify the issues and ideas in each chapter and indicate what knowledge should be garnered. They lend themselves to a small group study and I intend to use them and this book for that purpose. Both individuals and groups will find the book's format, sections for application and further study, beneficial for practical application.
This book was easily one of the top books I read this year. It was significant for its teaching on some difficult doctrines about Christ's humanity. It elicited thoughtful exultation and worship of the great God-man who redeemed us. And it is a very functional book with a format that encourages practical application of its truths. I highly recommend this book.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review.