the lost message of jesus

November 10, 2004 | 3 Comments

lost message of jesus
I read this book recently, and don’t understand why it has created the stir now known as Chalke-gate. It gives a fuller picture of the message of Jesus than is normally heard these days, but not, I think, in a way that negates much of the teaching about him that has happened for the last few decades.

This book is similar in style to Conrad Gempf‘s Jesus Asked in that it is simple to read but is backed by solid thinking based on good historical background. I would almost describe it as NT Wright/The Divine Conspiracy for dummies — perhaps that’s why I liked it so much!

Here is a quote from page 153 that I think gives a good summary of the book’s message:

Jesus didn’t come to tell people how to become Christians. He didn’t even spend his time telling people how they could join the Church. Rather, he came to show them how to be human. He encouraged people to follow him, to become his disciples, to get re-connected to God and other people. Salvation isn’t about having the right labels; it’s about becoming truly and fully human. It’s about living the way God has created us to live, in harmony with him, with each other and with the rest of creation. And it’s not so much about what happens after you die, though that is one important dimension of it; it’s about life right here and now. Put simply, Jesus believed in just one story — “Us”, humankind, moving, both individually and collectively, closer to or further away from the Kingdom of God and his promised shalom.

We often talk about the need to reach the lost with the message of Jesus. This is, indeed a task worthy of lots of energy, passion and creativity. However, we also need to reach those who are his followers already. The church is full of people who are in love with Jesus but yet still searching for a little fuller purpose to their life. They get frustrated because they know they are supposed to rescue the lost from hell, but somehow lack the motivation to carry that out in their daily life. How would they respond if we showed them more? How would they respond if we showed them that Jesus isn’t just showing what life will look later, but what life can look like now? What if they understood that they weren’t here only to rescue their friends from hell, but to model for them what it looks like to truly be human, and to invite those friends to join them on that journey?

  • Sounds like a great read John…perhaps an addition to my christmas reading. I know Steve Chalke sure took alot of flack over in England recently from alot of the evangelical community for selling out to something less than the real story.
    I think there is a real hunger for spirituality out in the world…but I think the church for so long has been in a defense mode, protecting its theology, doctrines, dogma…teaching christianity as a way to believe…instead of a way to live. I think alot of people aren’t really to concerned with hell…alot are feeling like their lives are hell now and just want to have the spiritual reality of jesus dwelling in them…and living through those circumstances.
    Anyway you’ve tweeked my interest…I’ll look for the book.

  • Sounds like some of the stuff Jason Clark is talking about too. I might have to pick that up.

  • Thanks for the comparison! I’m flattered. Steve is an amazingly gifted communicator, but more than that, he is a gifted and effective Christian activist. In that regard, in particular, we all have masses to learn from him.

    Your comparison of Chalke with Tom Wright is also appropriate, because Tom is the source of most of Steve and Alan’s apparent knowledge of the first century setting. You’ve got to love how Tom says on the cover that the book is “…rooted in good scholarship” while Steve’s acknowledgements list one New Testament scholar: Tom. Heh… of course it’s good scholarship, it’s my scholarship.

    In your blog, you rightly have focussed on what Steve & Alan affirm in the book … and all thinking evangelicals will affirm much of what they do.

    The controversy, however, has been over what they deny, which is denied vehemently even though it’s only a very very minor part of the book.

    Evangelicals have always said that the atonement, like the Trinity, is beyond human understanding and we need many models to understand it.

    Towards the end of the book, Steve and Alan go way out of their way to say that one of the main models evangelicals use — one of the main models I use — is wrong.

    In the book and since, Steve has called for debate on the subject. When you do that AND tell your fellow Christians that they’re wrong about one of the central issues of their faith, you can bet that discussions will ensue, however minor a part of your book it is!