New Book by Leonard Sweet & Frank Viola
Confronts the Church’s “Jesus Deficit Disorder”
Jesus Manifesto Challenges Christians to Restore Christ to Christianity
Christians have made the gospel about so many things other than Jesus that the church today is suffering from “Jesus Deficit Disorder,” and is in dire need of reconversion, say authors Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. Their new book, "Jesus Manifesto" (Thomas Nelson), is a prophetic call for the church to recover “the razor-sharp, cut-glass clarity of Jesus Christ as the Alpha and Omega.” The book expands upon the manifesto that Sweet and Viola posted online in 2009, which was viewed half a million times in just eight weeks.
Drawing upon Scripture, early Christian writers, and church history, Sweet and Viola present both a critique of contemporary Christianity, and a powerful evocation of the unique presence of Jesus Christ, using an ancient devotional tone they find lacking in the church today.
The problem is that Christianity is not what most Christians think it is, the authors assert.
Christianity is, simply, Christ. Nothing more, nothing less. It is not an ideology, a philosophy, a social ethic, a cause, a core value or a worldview. Christianity is “the ‘good news’ that beauty, truth and goodness are found in a Person—a real and living Person who can be known, loved, and experienced—and that true humanity and community are founded on connection to that Person,” write Sweet and Viola.
Although both authors have influenced or been involved in various movements over the years—missional, organic, emerging, house church—here they eschew labels as just more clutter obscuring who Jesus is. Their goal is to recover the revelation of Jesus Christ that they find lacking in the way the gospel is preached in most churches today. The radical Christian gospel has been watered down to an insurance policy, a Santa Claus story, or a performance-based religion.
Christians have lost sight of the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ, replacing the gospel with the language of justice, values, self-help and leadership. The authors point to Paul’s letter to the Colossians as the key Scripture that will help the church recover an understanding of Jesus Christ who “is all and in all.” The Jesus presented by Paul “smokes brain cells in one’s effort to grasp Him. He embodies the inexplicableness of almighty God. This is the same Jesus you have today.”
“In a church filled with leader-oholics, justice-oholics, commandment-oholics, and doctrine-oholics,” it is essential that Christians comprehend Paul’s message, the authors say. With this fresh glimpse of Jesus, Sweet and Viola challenge their fellow believers to reject the “bestseller Christianity” that wraps up self-centeredness in spirituality, and to start living as “walking, breathing Jesus Manifestos.”
About the Authors of Jesus Manifesto
Leonard Sweet occupies the Chair of Evangelism at Drew University in New Jersey. He contributes weekly to Sermons.com and the “Napkin Scribbles” podcast. One of the Twitter Elite ranking in the top thousand of the millions of users, he has authored numerous articles, sermons, and forty books. He lives in Absecon, New Jersey. www.LeonardSweet.com
Frank Viola is a best-selling author, speaker, and church planter. He's also a prominent leader of the missional church and organic church movements and a popular blogger. Frank lives in Florida. www.FrankViola.net
by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola
PUB DATE: June 1, 2010
Suggested Interview Questions for Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola,
authors of Jesus Manifesto (Thomas Nelson)
- Jesus Manifesto is based on an article you posted online that received a half million views in just eight weeks. Why do you think it touched such a nerve?
- Were you surprised by the number of people who said things like, “I’ve been a Christian for thirty years and have never heard this before”?
- Why isn’t this understanding of Christianity as Jesus Christ—nothing more, nothing less—more prevalent in the church today?
- What is the most “theologically precise affirmation of Christian faith in the Bible”?
- What has replaced Jesus as the focus of many churches?
- Many Christians pray for God to make them more “Christlike.” Why do you say that “cheapens the gospel and depresses the spirit”?
- The book is written in an ancient devotional tone. Why do you think that approach is lacking in the church today, and why do you want to reclaim it?
- Why do you find the current linkage of “kingdom” and “justice” problematic?
- Explain your statement that there is no gospel that is not a social gospel.
- Why must we rediscover mercy?
- You say that genuine Christianity is “learning to live by an indwelling Christ.” What does that mean in our day-to-day lives?
- What do you mean when you say that the “Christian religion is built on the tree of knowledge of good and evil” instead of on the “tree of life”?
- If God wrote our biographies, as you suggest in the book, how would they read?
- You say that there is a great deal of “pharisaism” in the church today. What is an example of modern pharisaism?
- If Christianity comes down to Jesus Christ, then why are there so many variations in belief and practice? Why, for example, might one person be a Calvinist and another an Arminian?
- What specific changes do you hope to see in the contemporary church, that would recover the revelation of Jesus Christ and result in the shaping of Christians into “walking, breathing Jesus Manifestos”?
For an interview with the authors, please contact Jared Patel at PTMIN@aol.com