Book Review: Jesus Called, He Wants His Church Back

Jesus Called, he Wants His Church Back, by Ray Johnston

[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]

This is a book that hits a little close to home, but not in a bad way. At times it is good to recognize that one may speak about God’s ways in a somewhat pretentious way, as the author notes: “Bible Study becomes hermeneutics [1], preaching becomes homiletics, teaching the Christian faith becomes apologetics [2], a church service becomes liturgy [3], the Ten Commandments become the Decalogue [4], loving Jesus becomes Christology [5], Church life becomes ecclesiology [6], Talk about the universe, and it’s cosmology [7], have a faith-based worldview, and it’s epistemology [8] (51-52),” and so on. The author argues throughout this book that Christians today present many barriers to others, from the sort of pedantic and elevated language that I write commonly and that others may find hard to understand, to judgmental attitudes and a general reputation more for being against things rather than for people and their well-being. The point is well-aimed and well-taken. The author, whose previous book The Hope Quotient I have read and reviewed [9], is seeking to wake up Christians and encourage them to live their faith and not be content to be ragamuffins who are indistinguishable from the rest of our decadent and broken world. If one is not insulted by the author’s piercing wit, there is much to appreciate here.

In terms of this book’s organization and structure, like many books it is divided into three parts of unequal length and takes a bit more than 200 pages for the author to make his points. After a very brief forward and two humorously titled bits that the reader is instructed to read first and second, the author discusses in the first part a world without Jesus, examining lessons from revival in South Africa, seven lost decades in which Christians (and the larger American culture as a whole) lost something very precious and vital from the 1950’s to the present decade, namely: innocence, respect for authority, love, values, faith, security, and hope in the future, and talks about how contemporary Christians often build on a cracked foundation. The second section looks at Christianity without Christ, pointing out the moral therapeutic deism that one reads about when studying the analysis of Barna surveys about faith in the United States, talking about what makes people fed up about the Church, and the repercussions and cures of our contemporary lukewarm attitude towards faith, which the author considers to be the worst of all sins. The third section of the book is the most encouraging and positive, looking at the Jesus that most people miss, talking about Christian zombies as opposed to the Jesus who wants us fully alive, Christian couch potatoes as opposed to those who refuse to play it entirely safe, looking at how Jesus wants to work through us, who redefines greatness, who says, “Come to me,” who still believes in the Church, and who is a magnet for sinners because of his obvious love and concern, rather than the repellent judgmental attitude that is commonly ascribed to contemporary Christians.

In many ways, I am not the ideal audience for a book like this, but I hope I was able to read it fairly. This is a book that encourages right living and a devotion to service and justice among those who call themselves Christians, a call to take the worldview of the Bible seriously, in studying the Bible seriously, and in taking risks to serve God and others. We can all use this reminder, as the clarion call to avoid lukewarm attitudes and self-sufficiency is something that all of us need from time to time. Likewise, we all need to be reminded of the need to share the Christian life with others, in a way that is genuine and filled with concern for others, for if we have the Spirit of God within us, it will show. The author of the foreword hopes that the book will be read by millions. I am not sure that will be the case, but it is the sort of book that is very profitable for those who are Christians and those who are willing to give Christianity a fair shot even with the bad reputation that contemporary Christianity has with so many people.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/01/25/do-we-hate-with-perfect-hatred/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2010/12/21/on-the-fundamentals-of-theology/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/five-basic-principles-of-biblical-interpretation/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/book-review-the-atheist-who-didnt-exist/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/book-review-true-reason/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/book-review-if-i-had-lunch-with-c-s-lewis/

[3] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/a-modest-proposal-for-the-development-and-publishing-of-rules-for-hymns/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/bookends/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/a-modest-proposal-for-the-development-and-publishing-of-rules-for-hymns/

[4] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/the-statutes-commandments-and-laws-of-god-before-sinai/

[5] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/book-review-nkjv-prophecy-study-bible/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/book-review-johns-gospel-the-way-it-happened/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/an-introduction-to-the-seven-general-epistles/

[6] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/the-implications-of-the-fifth-commandment-on-ecclesiology/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/02/17/between-how-it-is-and-how-it-should-be/

[7] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/little-ones/

[8] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/a-turn-of-the-phrase/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/there-must-be-a-reason-for-it-all/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/book-review-ideas-of-the-great-philosophers/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/the-day-i-gave-myself-homework/

[9] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/book-review-the-hope-quotient/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Bible, Book Reviews, Christianity, Church of God, History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Book Review: Jesus Called, He Wants His Church Back

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Man, Myth, Messiah | Edge Induced Cohesion

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