28 February 2008

Book Review: The Jesus of Suburbia

Have We Tamed the Son of God to Fit Our Lifestyle?

I picked this book up off of my dad's bookshelf when I was there this past December/January. It first caught my eye because of the title.
In the Acknowledgments section, Mike Erre states that he is no longer under the assumption that he has ever had an original thought. He attributes all of his thinking and insights to mentors and writers that have shaped his approach to life and ministry. Fair enough. I appreciate that kind of candor and authenticity... mostly because I think that's the case more often than not these days... be it in film, music or academics. I mean really, when was the last time we saw some really original innovations in the world of mathematics??? (I digress).

True to his admission, there isn't a whole lot of new material in here if you've already read the authors' works that he credits in his acknowledgments: Erwin McManus, Rob Bell, Dallas Willard, JP Moreland, etc. Even the title (what grabbed my attention initially) is the name of a Green Day song from the American Idiot album.

I know Mike... by that I mean that I've met him, we've played some pick-up basketball together, and we probably have known each others' names from the pre-Mariners/South Coast Community Church days. I also really like Mike and think he's doing a great job at Rock Harbor.

While the message presented here isn't radically new, it is a radical call to really knowing Jesus, rather than "simply knowing about him." Mike attacks American Christianity as it tends to present Jesus as "the purveyor of the American Dream," a predictable and safe Jesus that has more or less been reduced to the study of risk management.

The Jesus of Suburbia joins a collection of emergent works that are calling the next generation to a radical re-commitment to their faith... and more importantly, to live that faith out in today's culture.

If Donald (Blue Like Jazz) Miller's works focus on Christian spirituality as an explanation for beauty, meaning, and the human struggle, and Erwin (The Barbarian Way) McManus' goal is to maximize the divine potential in every human being, then Mike Erre's message is a call to the American church to begin "demonstrating the message of Christ," not merely explaining it.

This is a simple, straightforward retrospective on what it means to live out our faith in today's society; a good read worth picking up.

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