Thursday, January 29, 2009

Review - Jesus Without Religion

Jesus Without ReligionI was given this book when I passed by a table on campus hosted by the "Campus Crusade for Christ." The Campus Crusade is basically a group trying to generate religious discussions among students without pushing any particular religious tenets...a sort of lower pressure forum for students to think about religion. This book takes that same tactic. It looks at the Bible's treatment of Jesus Christ and evaluates the messages presented by the gospels as well as some of the writings from the Old Testament and New Testament. The book tries to take the stance of just presenting a portrait of Jesus and Christianity without the overhead of any particular beliefs or doctrines taught by any formal religion. In essence, it's exploring the roots of "Christianity."

The writing style was very accessible. The author uses very conversational language and references many contemporary objects and themes. He also lets his personality come through as he narrates the subject matter, filling it with humorous asides and anecdotes. The tone of the book is light and easy to read even though the material itself is definitely treated seriously and with respect. It's a book about Christ that's not going to be heavy and intimidating to a casual reader.

Being fairly religious myself and having taken formal scripture courses over the years, I found a lot of what is presented to be things I'd already learned. There were a few things that he presented in a new light and with interesting insights that I hadn't thought about. There were a few points that seemed contrary to things I'd learned and as such I'm now motivated to do my own study to set myself straight.

To those who haven't done any real study of the Bible or of Christ or who haven't had any formal scripture/gospel courses, this book seems like a pretty good introductory text. It answers the question of "Who was/is Jesus Christ?" from a biblical perspective. Because he's not preaching about any particular religion other than Christianity, readers shouldn't feel their own belief system threatened or undermined by anything he has to say.

I recommend this book to those interested in Christianity and looking to get a basic foundational introduction to Christ and the content of the gospels. I would not recommend that you take this book at face value and stop after reading it, assuming that you now know and understand all there is to know about Christ and Christianity. And I don't think the author would recommend that either. Rather, I would recommend that you take the thoughts, emotions, questions and feelings raised by this book and apply them to your own study and investigation. Go read the Bible itself. Seek out other instructional and inspirational books. Talk with other religious Christians and see what there is out there.

3 stars

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