Law Religion Culture Review

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Book Review: Jesus, CEO.

"If God has created us in His image, we have more than returned the compliment."

Laurie Beth Jones’ Jesus, CEO regrettably serves as an expansive exercise in delivering this compliment. In other words, the text largely constructs Jesus in the image of Ms. Jones, or as Ms. Jones would like Him to be.

Ms. Jones provides 85 dimensions or characteristics of Jesus as a “CEO” or leader. These qualities are organized into three (3) major categories: strength of self-mastery, strength of action, and strength of relationships.

While promoting laudable attributes, Ms. Jones’ book is flawed for at least three (3) fundamental reasons.

First, Jones has taken a biblical record that is relatively thin on leadership tips and extrapolated it into a primer on Jesus’ executive or leadership wisdom. In so doing, Jones has painted on a nearly blank canvas and created a portrait that she wants to see rather than what was originally intended or purposed. In other words, a serious exegete of scripture must ask, What are the purpose and context of these sayings and stories? Jones nowhere demonstrates any background or desire to approach these texts in a proper hermeneutical fashion.

Did Jesus live and die to leave behind an example of how to run a company effectively and efficiently? I doubt it. Reading Ms. Jones’ book, one might legitimately form the impression that she believes it. While it is true that we can draw some conclusions about how Jesus conducted His ministry and how He empowered those around Him, this is far removed from Jones’ extrapolation of nearly 100 characteristics of CEO leadership.

Second, while not overt, Jones demonstrates an apparent inconsistency in her approach to Scripture. On the one hand, Jones’ book purports to be based on a reliable biblical record. She cites Scripture extensively to build her case or portrait of Jesus. (pp. 306-09.) On the other hand, she evinces a low or fungible view of Scripture. She speaks of “Higher Power(s)” (p. 296), a freedom to seek one’s “own path to God” (p. 318), and eschews a “literal, exact” translation of the Bible. (p. 304.) These admissions disclosed that Jones’ approach to the biblical texts is essentially outcome-determinative or results-driven. In other words, Jones had an idea of what Jesus as CEO should look like, and then hunted for scriptural references that might support her thesis. In some cases, however, this agenda led to some bizarre interpretations or misplaced citations, which will be discussed in the third criticism.

Third, related to the second point, Jones employs some acrobatic Scripture twisting to reach her desired result. Two examples come readily to mind. In the first (blasphemous) example, Jones argues that leaders are to follow Christ’s example by making the “I AM” affirmation. (p. 295.)

Here, Jones egregiously fails to recognize the meaning of Jesus’s “I AM” sayings in John, in view of their Old Testament and New Testament contexts. It was an affirmation of Deity, as I wrote about here. To suggest that leaders affirm their strengths and talents by following Jesus’ example when He said His name was “I AM” calls into serious question Jones’ ability as an exegete and frankly the credibility of the balance of her text.

As a second example, Jones states: “Jesus hated to eat alone.” (p. 275.) This is a clear example where Jones constructs attributes using arguments from silence or otherwise out of whole cloth. What is her evidence that Jesus “hated” to eat alone? The biblical record nowhere says this and similarly does not record all of his eating arrangements. While Jesus may have enjoyed social settings, this does not translate into a uniform rule that he “hated” to eat alone. Unfortunately, this type of reasoning is not unique or isolated.

For these serious deficiencies, I could not recommend this book as a serious study of Jesus’ attributes as a leader or otherwise. Instead, I suggest my pastor and (former) professor Dr. Mark D. Roberts' Jesus Revealed, which I reviewed here.