No figure in history has received more attention, and been less understood, than Jesus of Nazareth. Too much of what has been written recently portrays Jesus as a vaguely kind and friendly person whose message sometimes pleases but never challenges us, whose presence might comfort but never completes us. That Jesus, in other words, looks a lot like we do, just with better manners. Meeting that Jesus for the first time, the reader is tempted to ask ""Why all the fuss? What here is worth devoting my life to?""Very little about that Jesus is worth it, says Will Willimon. Yet there is another Jesus, the mysterious preacher from Nazareth who continues to invite men and women to claim the true meaning of their lives by giving their lives away in service to God and others. This Jesus continues to fascinate and compel us, in spite of all the attempts to domesticate his message and put distance between us and the call to follow. In his radical teachings, his self-sacrificial death, and his liberating life beyond death, this Jesus teaches and shows us the true meaning and purpose of our own lives.
Feeling most at home behind a pulpit, Bishop William H. Willimons deepest calling is to be a preacher and truth-teller of Jesus Christ. Willimon is Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at Duke University Divinity School and retired Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church, after serving for 20 years as faculty member and Dean of the Chapel at Duke University. He continues to give lectures and teach at universities around the world. Willimon earned a doctoral degree from Emory University and has been honored with 13 additional doctorates. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama. A study by the Pulpit and Pew Research Center found that Willimon is one of the most widely read authors among mainline Protestant pastors. An international survey conducted by Baylor University named him one of the "Twelve Most Effective Preachers" in the English-speaking world. With over a million copies of more than 60 books sold, his popularity is undeniable.
A United Methodist bishop and prolific author, Willimon (Pastor: The Theological Practice of Ordained Ministry) makes dual use of the title question, offering nuanced arguments for following Jesus (some of which subtly counter popular contemporaries who preach pragmatic Christianity) and interrogating Jesus about his personal spiritual struggles. Addressing numerous gospel accounts from Jesus' ministry, particularly the miracles, parables, and resurrection, chapters explore interpretations of Jesus both familiar (story teller, preacher, savior) and provocative (vagabond, magician, home wrecker). Willimon offers his "own meager testimony," throughout, acknowledging his discomfort with challenges Jesus makes to religious leaders such as himself, while at the same time claiming his vocation as preacher and writer, called to "help Jesus get hold of you--with nothing but words." Conversational, boxed "Asides to Jesus" provide tongue-in-cheek humor and opportunities for reflection--for example, "I confess that I'm guilty of thinking that God is somewhat like me, only nicer"--while citations following each chapter under the heading "You Can Look it Up" challenge the reader to personally engage the discussed texts. This is accessible wisdom from a seasoned theologian. (Oct.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
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