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Who is this Jesus anyway?
on 3 June 2010
The impact of Christianity lies in the ripple effect of transformed lives and communities. The common factor associated with this dynamic is the experience of Jesus. This is the premise of John Pritchard's book which sees 'who is this Jesus?' as the big question to get people engaging with.
'Living Jesus' recognises the confusion of many in the face of the immense diversity of religion. Bishop John sees Jesus as one who can simplify the religious quest, deepen spiritual life and unify with minimal exclusion. The book starts by a critical celebration of different popular visions of Jesus: gentle, judge, professor, politician etc. It moves on to affirm the Jesus found in Christian tradition: 'generous evangelical, earthy catholic, Spirit-led 'charismatic', thoughtful liberal'.
The gospel of Jesus is described as a slow-burning fuse with explosive consequences, as in its impact on slavery. Like other religions Christianity has become 'the fall-guy for blind nationalism, when religion is the label but not what's in the tin'. The book has many such images that help counter negative perceptions along with positive affirmation of Jesus as centre point of history and the world's hope to the end of time.
The living Jesus written of is not just one to be found but one who is in a quest to find us all. In communicating this the writer comes across as one possessing spiritual authority. The chapter on Jesus as partner in prayer highlights the reality of Jesus in both spiritual consolation (in-sight) and desolation (night-sight). The author's pastoral experience of being with those in pain and suffering nervous collapse himself are deftly woven into the narrative.
`Living Jesus' concludes by celebrating the positive role of the arts in Christian tradition and by providing a reasoned examination of the place of Jesus in relation to other world faiths. The book's achievement as an invitation to think around Jesus is consolidated by a concluding series of biblically based group bible studies.
The Revd Dr John Twisleton, Rector of Horsted Keynes, West Sussex UK