The Jesus Manifesto is Out. So Now What?

Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola lay it on the line:

What is Christianity? It is Christ. Nothing more. Nothing less. Christianity is not an ideology. Christianity is not a philosophy. Christianity is the “good news” that Beauty, Truth and Goodness are found in a person. Biblical community is founded and found on the connection to that person. Conversion is more than a change in direction; it’s a change in connection. Jesus’ use of the ancient Hebrew word shubh, or its Aramaic equivalent, to call for “repentance” implies not viewing God from a distance, but entering into a relationship where God is command central of the human connection.

In that regard, we feel a massive disconnection in the church today. Thus this manifesto.

This is great.  But, having worked in a ministry for over a deacade, my next question is, now what?

  • Do we emphasise and insist on “Sermon on the Mount” Christianity, as Michael Babcock advocates in UnChristian America?
  • Do we finally rid ourselves of Gothardian authoritarianism that we never had rights to, as I advocate in Authority and Evangelical Churches?
  • Do we sever the connection between God and country, thus divorcing Christian life from the national one?
  • De we ditch any form of prosperity teaching and the close symbosis that Evangelical Christianity has developed with upward social mobility?
  • Do we at least cut the Gordian knot on the same-sex civil marriage debate by abandoning civil marriage altogether, recognising that marriage is from God and the state has no business in it?

I understand completely that Christianity is centred in a relationship with Jesus Christ, and that it is not merely a set of principles.  But once we acknowledge that, we need to work out the practical implications of a Jesus-centred life.  Evangelical Christianity has, for a long time, boasted that the way it sets forth is the only way to live that kind of life.  (And I’m not referring here simply to the idea that Jesus is the only way to God; Evangelicals, their own propaganda notwithstanding, isn’t alone in affirming this.)

What Sweet and Viola are challenging, whether they realise it or not, is Evangelical Christianity’s triumphalism about themselves and their place in the universe, to say nothing of Christianity.  But a successful challenge to that leads to a thorough review of everything else we’re doing.

Let the games begin!

One Reply to “The Jesus Manifesto is Out. So Now What?”

  1. from an Ovi / Bookforum/Op-ed News/Newsblaze

    review: The Final Freedoms©free

    On the horizon is an approaching religious, cultural and scientific furore so contentious, any clash of civilizations may have to wait. On one side, a manuscript titled: The Final Freedoms, against all the gravitas religious tradition can bring to bear.

    The first wholly new interpretation for 2000 years of the moral teachings of Christ is on the web. Redefining all primary elements including Faith, the Word and the Resurrection, this new interpretation questions the validity and origins of all Christian tradition; focusing specifically on marriage, love and human sexuality, it overturns all natural law ethics and theory. At stake is the credibility of several thousand years of religious history and moral teaching, and will certainly impact other fields of intellectual inquiry.

    What first appears a counter intuitive and utterly preposterous challenge to the religious status quo rewards closer examination, for it carries within its pages ideas both subtle and sublime, what the theological history of religion either ignored, were unable to imagine or dismissed as impossible. An error of presumption which could now leave ‘tradition’ staring into the abyss and humble the heights of secular, scientific speculation. This new teaching has nothing whatsoever to do with any existing religious conception known to history. It is unique in every respect. What science and religion have agreed was not possible, has now become an all too probable.

    Using a synthesis of scriptural material from the Old and New Testaments, the Apocrypha , The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Nag Hammadi Library, and some of the worlds great poetry, it describes and teaches a single moral LAW, a single moral principle offering the promise of its own proof; one in which the reality of God responds to an act of perfect faith with a direct, individual intervention into the natural world; correcting human nature by a change in natural law, altering biology, consciousness and human ethical perception beyond all natural evolutionary boundaries. Intended to be understood metaphorically, where ‘death’ is ignorance and ‘Life’ is knowledge, this experience, personal encounter and liberation by transcendent power and moral purpose is the ‘Resurrection’, the justification of faith and foundation of righteousness.

    Often stated, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence and rightly so. Here then is the first ever viable religious conception capable of leading reason, by faith, to observable consequences which can be tested and judged. This new teaching delivers the first ever religious claim of insight into the human condition, that meets the Enlightenment criteria of verifiable, evidence based truth embodied in action. For the first time in history, a moral tenet exists, offering access by faith, to absolute proof for its belief.

    This is ‘religion’ without any of the coventional trappings of tradition. An individual, applied virtue-ethical conception all in a single command, this new interpretation defines the moral foundation of all human conduct and the single Law finds expression within a new covenant of marriage. It requires no institutional framework or hierarchy, no churches or priest craft, no scholastic theological rational, dogma or doctrine and ‘worship’ requires only conviction, faith and the necessary measure of self discipline to accomplish a new, single moral imperative and the integrity and fidelity to the new reality.

    If confirmed and there appears both the means and a growing, concerted effort to test and authenticate this material, this will represent a paradigm change in the moral and intellectual potential of human nature itself; untangling and resolving the greatest questions of human existence: consciousness, meaning, suffering, free will and evil. And at the same time offering real solutions to the most profound problems of our age.

    And therein lies its power and attraction. Reflecting from every television screen, newspaper, radio and web, the limitations of mankind become more obvious every day by the failure to successfully address and resolve the most pressing problems facing the modern world and threatening the earth itself. The emperor has no clothes!

    While this new teaching is asking humanity, choose the future you prefer? The status quo, where existing religious tradition, mired in its own corruption and contradictions offers little but divisiveness and its own pretensions, while politics offers only the growing chaos of more war, terrorism, conflict, environmental degradation, spin and whitewash, economic turmoil and division, sectarianism and natural disasters. Or learning to accept that human nature and natural reason exist within limits, and by taking new personal and moral responsibility, in a single change of mind and conduct, by faith, transcend those limits and blow the status quo strait to hell.

    While trials of this new teaching are under way in several countries, colloquial evidence from discussion forums already suggest confirmations are taking place and probably increasing. For those individuals who can imagine outside the historical cultural box, who are willing to learn something new and stand against the stream of fashionable thought and spin, an intellectual and moral revolution is already in progress, where the ‘impossible’ becomes inevitable and with the most potent Non Violent Direct Action any human being can take to advance peace, justice, change and progress.

    Published [at the moment] only on the web, a typeset manuscript of this new teaching is available as a free [1.4meg] PDF download from a variety of sites including:


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