Why Jesus?

Why Jesus?, by William H. Willimon ($8.32)

Scot McKnight has quotes from the book:

“The king they [shepherds] found was a defenseless baby lying in a manger. that’s God’s great answer to what’s wrong with the world? A baby to an unwed mother? An infant wrapped in rags, cast into a cattle feed trough?”

“The angels’ song is not only a birth announcement; it’s a war chant, a proclamation announcing a change of government.”

“At this point, honesty compels me to say that, if you are one of those people with great love for the government or reverent respect for the military that props up government, you will find Jesus a jolt to your sensibilities.”

“There are many rationales for the ‘just war,’ or for self-defense, capital punishment, abortion, national security, or military strength. None of them, you will note, is able to make reference to Jesus or to his words or deeds of any of his first followers.”

“At the heart of the universe is not dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-fittest struggle and war. At the heart of it all is a God who is peaceful, loving, long-suffering, forgiving, and gracious. Jesus looks like God; God looks like Jesus.”

“God will fix things with this Jew from Nazareth who refused to fight back and who died not threatening, ‘One day, damn you, I’ll get even,’ but rather praying, ‘Father, forgive.’”

“Jesus appears to have had no interest in one of the world’s great, abiding illusions — justice…. Worldy attempts at justice always involve the strong imposing their wills upon the weak” (20).

More reviews on the Amazon site below the fold …

From Publishers Weekly

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.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Description

No figure in history has received more attention, and been less understood, than Jesus of Nazareth. Much of what has been written recently portrays Jesus as a vaguely kind and friendly person whose message sometimes pleases but never challenges believers. People might even be 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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: