Monday, May 31, 2010

Jesus Manifesto by Sweet and Viola

Thomas Nelson is releasing a new book called Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. This book will be on special discount from on June 1st, the date of the release. You can learn more by going to Among those who have endorsed the book are Rowan Williams, Matt Chandler, Calvin Miller, Ed Young, Jack Hayford, Shane Claiborne, Ed Stetzer, Reggie McNeal, Mark Batterson, Gregory Boyd, David Fitch, Steve Brown, Dan Kimball, Margaret Feinberg, Mark Chironna, Francis Frangipane, Todd Hunter, Alan Hirsch, Chris Seay, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Anne Jackson, Craig Keener, Ken Ulmer, Tommy Barnett and Sally Morgenthaler.


ben said...

Tom, you don't blog a lot of book announcements. So do you mean to offer particular commendation to this one, or do you mean for us to observe the radically diverse array of endorsers?

Any sense of whether they're endorsing something good about Jesus, something bad, or something that essentially says very little at all?

Tom said...


I am intrigued by the variety of commendations. I have only pre-read the book and thus cannot give any significant evaluation of it. It certainly has captured the attention of disparate groups of people.

Douglas said...

"It certainly has captured the attention of disparate groups of people."

Deception always does especially when it is disguised as the truth. Some of the endorses of the book are into seriously twisted teachings. It seems as if error is flooding the Church in these days, right, left and center. What are the shepherds actively doing to protect the sheep from all this leaven of false teaching? How does the lay person in the pew with no formal education or the bare minimum, discern the error that is contained within that book and those like it?

"I have to take serious issue with the theology of this book. In the introduction Sweet and Viola say:

The historic Christian creeds are an expression of the need to answer Jesus’ “Who do you say I am?” question. But that “you say” is contextual. Each new generation, in every culture, is given a “you say.”

This is just a flat out lie. When Jesus asked the “Who do you say I am?” question, the answer given by Peter was NOT contextual, it was eternal. Said Peter, “You are the Christ the Son of living God.” Jesus praised Peter and told him that answer was revealed to him by the Father. Then Jesus said, “on this rock I will build my church.” Jesus’ church is built on the eternal truth that Jesus is the Christ the son of the living God.

Who Jesus is, is not contextually determined by any culture or community. The creeds themselves confess eternal and transcendent truths about Christ NOT contextualized truths that were true for the cultures of the 4th and 5th centuries. This is a SERIOUS and Dangerous false teaching on the part of Sweet and Viola.
" - Chris Rosebrough

What exactly, then, is “heresy?” Irenaeus states, “Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than truth itself.” - The Devil's Merchandise Heresy in the Church

Wyman Richardson said...


I'm about halfway through with this book. I'm no Len Sweet apologist (in fact, I've been critical of him before) and I have no desire to try to shield anybody from just censure, but I think you've given an overly pessimistic reading of that particular statement. I read that to mean that each generation (context) must answer the question, "Who do you say that I am?" (True enough! And, in this sense, Peter was in fact answering from his context, as do we all.) I certainly did not read it to say that the answer itself is contextually determined.

On the contrary - and much to my delight - the book is turning out to be one of the most profound articulations of high Christology I think I've ever encountered. In fact, I think what follows in the book all but kills the notion that the authors think the answer is contextually determined. They are very clearly arguing that the answer is determined by Scripture.

Now, the last half of the book may make me think differently, but if it does it will have to take a strong u-turn from the first half, which has been great.

Not trying to conflict with you. I would just question whether or not that is a fair or accurate reading of that book.