Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Book Reviews, Part V (Jesus Revealed).

Published in 2002, I realize Jesus Revealed by Mark D. Roberts is not as fresh as a warm Krispy Kreme donut. Nevertheless, I note that it is still featured atop Dr. Roberts' blog (here), so this review is probably still timely.

I loved this book. (Full disclosure: I studied New Testament under Dr. Roberts at Fuller Theological Seminary and attend his church.)

The book analyzes Jesus’ various dimensions by unpacking the meanings of titles ascribed to him. Each chapter is dedicated to a rich appellation. Dr. Roberts explores: “Jesus the Rabbi”, “Jesus the Prophet”, “Jesus the Holy One of God”, “Jesus the Son of Man”, “Jesus the Savior”, “Jesus the Lord”, “Jesus the Son of God”, “Jesus the Word of God”, and “Jesus the Light of the World”.

Dr. Roberts draws together historical and biblical threads to create a far more focused, profound and complete picture of Jesus than one might have before reading the book. However, this is not a mere academic exercise.

One of my systematic theology professors insisted that we conclude our papers, often investigating theological esoterica, by answering the question, “so what?” It seemed a worthy question. Dr. Roberts answers the overarching “so what” of his study, as follows: “We know him more clearly in order to love him more dearly.” (p. 213.)

Further, Dr. Roberts posits the implications flowing from a particular title. For example, when discussing "Jesus the Savior", it should lead to more trust. (p. 136.) With respect to “Jesus the Word of God”, he writes: “If Jesus was indeed the Word of God in human form, then he was also the ultimate revelation of God.” (p. 188.) Also, “if Jesus is the Word Incarnate, then we must use our minds to think carefully and energetically” (p. 189).

He contrasts this approach with “our culture’s obsession with feelings. Our world has enthroned emotion as the measure of all things. Postmodernism has replaced the Cartesian formula, ‘I think, therefore I am’ with a new credo: ‘I feel, therefore I am, maybe. At any rate, I feel, and that’s all that really matters.’ This emotional … orientation to life has infected the Western world, including Christianity. I know Christians who relish their emotional relationship with Jesus, but invest very little mental effort in trying to understand him.” (p. 188.)

What does Dr. Roberts suggest as an [unconventional] antidote? “Read theology that challenges your mind. Engage in serious conversation with others about matters of faith. And above all, study the Scriptures, the written Word of God that reveals the incarnate Word of God to us.” (p. 190; emphasis added.)

This book can help such a seeker on the path of theological inquiry. But, it does not encourage it as an end in itself, nor does it fall victim to dry discourse. The book is balanced with practical illustrations and peppered with interesting anecdotes including Dr. Beck Weathers’ trauma on Mount Everest in 1996, chronicled so vividly in Jon Krakauer’s superb, Into Thin Air (1997).

If you enjoyed After "I Believe": Experiencing Authentic Christian Living (2002) also by Mark Roberts, I think you will enjoy this one even more. If you regularly read his blog, then I have to ask why you don't have Jesus Revealed in your library already.