This is a review long overdue. I received this book, perhaps a year ago. I read through it quickly, as is my practice when I receive books to review. I want to get a sense, "Should I invest more time with this book?" I did give it a second, slightly less rapid read. Did I believe there was something more here? Were there nuggets I'd missed in my cursory first glance? Or was something else "nagging" at me?
Sweet & Viola present a clear call to Jesus Christ as THE way to God. In a pluralistic culture that seeks to be tolerant of all faiths (an illogical act if there ever was one), this book will step on a lot of toes and cut off many a conversation by insisting that Jesus is the only true way to have a relationship with God. In that, I can commend them.
However, something kept niggling at the back of my mind about this book; something seemed to be missing, or at least, just overlooked? This is why I gave the book just a bit more time. And I think I figured out what it was--the cross.
Sweet and Viola don't go off the rails blatantly nor directly, but I wonder if what they say about the cross, or more accurately, what they don't say, is part of a bigger problem in so many evangelical churches today. I'm not convinced that the cross is held up in the way in which Scripture intended. Oh sure, the cross is mentioned early on in this book, but not as the offense to modern, sinful man, not as the cure for our sin-sickness, not as the truth that we are saved from something as much as we are saved to something.
I think, in so many teacher/preacher/writer's attempt to be winsome with the gospel, to appear to be friendly to the "seeker", we set aside the offense of the cross. The "Sally Fields Syndrome," as I call it, settles in and we're overjoyed at the reality of the experience--"You like me! You really, really like me!" It's a heady thing. It's also dangerous to the power of the gospel. It's a completely different book, but the title of Ed Welch's latest offering hits too many of us evangelical preachers right between the eyes: "What Do You Think of Me? And Why Do I Care?"
This is a book a really can't recommend. I can't say I'm against it, in the sense that I'm against Rob Bell's "Love Wins." Yet, I simply can't recommend it. There are too many other good books on the cross of Christ (John Stott's book by that very title, for one example) to be had out there that one should read.
In the past, I have been reluctant to read material of this kind, fearing it to be "out there." I thank God I finally purchased this book. Viola & Sweet have done a masterful job putting the emphasis back where it is supposed to be...on Jesus Christ. If you, like me, have been wondering for years where the worship & glorification of Him has gone in order to serve some "agenda", i.e. "we're too busy working for the Lord to follow Him," than this is the book to read.
I have waited for a long time for a book on this topic with the right focus to come out. This should be required reading for anyone in ministry if they wish to remain true to the call and purpose of the Christian church. I have said for many years now that this is the missing key in American Christianity. No one who is a Christian will be disapointed with this book, it is all about their Jesus and how great he is.
"Jesus Manifesto" challenged and enriched me as I read it and reflected further on the Bible verses, quotes and text. Thus captivated, I began sharing "high points" with my wife Brenda and others who are now reading and realizing more of Jesus! The points from Colossians particularly touched me -- Jesus is my lighthouse!