Featured Book Review

Christ in Crisis
Why We Need to Reclaim Jesus

by Jim Wallis

 

A Review by Dwight A. Moody

 

This book addresses the political and spiritual situation brought on by the Trump presidency and the support for him among the Christian community in the United States. Author Jim Wallis boldly states: “Donald Trump alarmingly exemplifies the ultimate and consummate worshipper of money, sex, and power. American Christians have not yet reckoned with the climate he has created in our country and the spiritual obligation we have to repair it. As a result, the soul of our nation and the integrity of the Christian faith … are at risk” (131).

 

In 2018, as Wallis describes, a group of “elders” from Christian groups located generally on the left or progressive wing of the Protestant world (and thus neither Pentecostal, Orthodox, Evangelical, nor Roman Catholic) gathered in New York City to ponder the political climate in the country. Out of that came three things: this book, a movement known as “Matthew 25”, and a document called the “Reclaiming Jesus” declaration (which is printed in the back of the book and also linked here).

 

This is an approach to the current situation very similar to what I expressed in my recent commentary, “Where’s Jesus?”—which illustrates that by osmosis their leadership on these matters in the national centers of power (New York and Washington DC) trickled down to coastal Georgia and shaped my understanding of the crisis facing us.

 

These three things (the book, the movement, and the document) take inspiration from the influential words and work of German Lutheran theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer who, in the midst of Nazi power, called the German church to resist the leadership of Hitler and rise to a higher, more costly discipleship to Jesus as Lord and Savior. “I now believe that this is a Bonhoeffer moment, and I decided after reading Acts early many mornings to try to write a book that would help answer his question “Who is Jesus Christ for us today?” for me and right now” (186, italics in the original).

 

To answer this question, Wallis addresses eight others that arise out of the reading of the gospels:

 

• Who is a neighbor?
• Who is created in the image of God?
• What is truth?
• Who are the powerful?
• Whom shall we fear?
• How shall we respond to the state?
• Who is a peacemaker?
• Who is a disciple?

 

Each of these questions frames a chapter in the book, complete with exegesis of Holy Scripture (sometimes at length greater than needed!), examples of how and by whom the question is being properly answered, and invitations to all of us to follow their examples.

 

This structure of the book—thirteen sections inclusive of prologue, conclusion and epilogue—make it perfect for church-based study groups. I recommend it highly as it is throughout most accessible to literate and engaged people.

 

Among the best features of the book are the stories Wallis includes, all of which will be useful to teachers and preachers inspired to take these themes, these questions, as texts of the hour. Here are three of the best stories in the book.

 

The late Mary Glover assisted with the weekly grocery bag food line at the Sojourners Neighborhood Center, just twenty blocks from the White House. Here is the prayer she prayed each morning before the hundreds of people came through her line: “Lord, we know you will be coming through this line today, so help us to treat you well!” (214).

 

College president (then of Bethany in Kansas, now of Georgetown in Kentucky) Will Jones signaled his servanthood spirit when he included (in his inaugural activities at the inter-racial institution in Kansas) the washing of the feet of a student, encouraging the entire college community to move immediately to the fountain outside the assembly hall and wash the feet of others around them (120ff).

 

Pastor Steve Stone and his congregation in Cordova, Tennessee, were profiled on a CNN story one Sunday morning (2010) with a piece describing their hospitality to a mosque that had moved into their neighborhood prompting a middle-of-the-night call from a group of Muslim men in Kashmir, Pakistan, with this message: “We saw the CNN segment. We were all silent for a long time afterwards …. Then one of us said, ‘I think God is speaking to us through that pastor’…. Please tell your congregation that we don’t hate them, we love them. And from now on we will protect that little Christian church near us because of what you did” (40ff).

 

From beginning to end, this book is full of such inspirational stories and action ideas. Reading this book and implementing its strategies will make all of us better disciples of Jesus and will make our world a more peaceful and righteous place. Thanks be to God.

 

 

 

 

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Book Review Archive

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C. S. Lewis, A Life: 
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Call Stories:
Hearing and Responding to God’s Call

edited by Barry Howard

 

Climate Church, Climate World 
by Jim Antal

 

Christ in Crisis:
Why We Need to Reclaim Jesus
by Jim Wallis 

 

Educated: A Memoir
by Tara Westover

 

Factfullness
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and Why Things are Better Than You Think
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God’s Hand on America:
Divine Providence in the Modern Era
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The Great Spiritual Migration 
How the World’s Largest Religion
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The Greatest Prayer
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A Brief History of Christianity in Asia:
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Israel Matters:
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Just Mercy: Story of
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The Narrative of the Life of
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Paul: A Biography 
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Piety and Power: Mike Pence
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 That All Shall Be Saved: 
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Resilient Faith:
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Songs of American: Patriotism, Protest,
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Where Do We Go From Here?
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Books By Dr. Dwight A. Moody

Here are four books written by Dr. Dwight A. Moody, provided here (or in the near future) in both text and audio format. All are in various stages of production for this web site. Feel free to provide comment on these books using the response form at the bottom of each page.

 


 

       

Free and Faithful: Christian Discipleship in the 21st Century

This was a series of sermons preached by Dr. Moody at Third Baptist Church of Owensboro, Kentucky. It is inspired by (and follows the format of) the influential book by Buddy Shurden, Four Fragile Freedoms.  The text here includes an epilogue written in 2018 that offers reflections on the book, 20 years after its publication. It is also the intent of Dr. Moody to provide an audio version of this book; to date, only the Preface and Introduction are available.

 


 

 

 

On the Other Side of Oddville: Stories of Religion and Everyday Life
For a number of years, Dr. Moody wrote and published in public newspapers around the country a weekly column on Religion and American Life (something he continues to do through this Meetinghouse initiative). This book collects 105 of these 700-word essays. You may purchase a sign copy of this book–$20 inclusive of shipping; simply request it through the Response Form at the bottom of each page of the website. (This text is in production.)

 


 

 

Its’s About Time: A Memoir of Ministry at Georgetown College
From 1997 to 2008, Dr. Moody served as dean of the chapel and professor of religion at Georgetown College in Kentucky. This is the narrative essay that forms the core of this book. Upon leaving the school to launch the Academy of Preachers, he produced this self-published book. The book also included sermons, prayers, letters, essays, and memos; it can be ordered through Amazon. (This text is in production.)

 


 

Nine Marks of a Good Sermon
During Dr. Moody’s tenure at Georgetown College, he taught a course in “Communication for Ministry” (and popularly called “Preaching). This material was developed during that ministry and continued during his years as founder and first president of the Academy of Preachers. It is published here without the illustrative sermons included in the book.