Books in Review: Jesus > Religion
This is an awesome book. From the time I heard they this book was happening, I was so excited. When it came out during my last semester of college, I finish it in only a few weeks’ time, even on top of all the reading I had to do for class! I was already a big fan of Jeff from his YouTube channel, but seeing Jeff’s heart and life story written out in this way was a confirmation of why I enjoyed his work so much. This book is still in my opinion of the best books written from a millennial viewpoint of the subject of Christianity. Jeff’s desire to help his audience find a more intimate relationship is undeniable and that desire guides his audience to a good place when they are finished. Especially after I helped launched two of his other books (It’s Not What You Think and Love that Lasts), I definitely recommend this book ~ Bethel
Religion has been around for a long time, but most of us don’t really understand all that it implies in our world today. Although the essence of religion was created by God, what it has become is a far cry from the vibrant relationship He wants us to find in His Son. Through human misunderstanding, practicing religion has become distorted into a list of rules that are impossible for us to keep in our imperfection. There have been many consequences to this distortion, including many falling into either theological arrogance (assuming they can earn merit with God through rule-keeping) or making the choice to give up on religion (because the standards are impossible to achieve). These two extremes create tension, and everyone in between feels like they are caught in the middle of the hypocrisy or ignorance of those involved in the argument. It makes us ask the question: Is there something better than the rule-keeping of religion?
In his first book, Jesus > Religion, Jefferson Bethke helps us understand that there is a big different between the rule-keeping of religion and the freedom in obedience we should have in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. After his spoken word on the same subject when viral (Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus), Jeff decided he wanted to write a book to further explain his position. The result is a book that takes much of what we thought we knew about Christianity and turns it on its head. He breaks down many of the issues that subscribing to a religion brings and points to the greater ways that Jesus taught throughout His ministry. When we are able to truly learn that we have receive grace as soon as we accept it, it will allow to live a more abundant life that is not bogged down by rule-keeping. However, we do also learn that grace doesn’t absolve us from sin, but instead allows us to have hope that we can remain anchored in Christ, even if we mess up, as long as we have an attitude of repentance. These truths and much more are told within the framework of the spoken word that inspired the book as well as personal stories from his own life that make his points relevant.
Although this was Jeff’s first book, published when he was only twenty-three, this book has a wisdom beyond his years. His theology is strong, but his writing is understandable to everyone and relevant to all of us. I honestly think that every Christian needs to read this book. Get your copy today!
I love this book. I first heard about it when I was in college, taking my Apologetics Readings Course. As I was going through the lists of books about defending the Christian faith, this book stood out above the rest. Since it was on the lists of optional readings, I ordered it right away! I enjoyed this book’s insight about understanding the messages within movies and how important it is to understand the messages they are trying to communicate. This book was by far my favorite book I read that semester and in some ways has become one of the motivations I have had in writing reviews on this blog. The content on this book is just as relevant now as it was when it was published. Any Christian 15 or older would benefit greatly for reading this book ~ Bethel
We love movies. But more than that, we loved to be entertained. We are quick to watch the newest movie at anyone recommendation. When movies satisfy us, we watch them again and again. When we dislike movies, especially ones based off of known books or stories, we are quick to verbalize disappointment. But either way, we often just watch the movies to be entertainment, not to get something out of it intellectually or spiritually. We often let our guard down for the sake of being entertained. As a result, the messages that are being communicated through the film are not being filtered or being contrasted against personal beliefs. We often don’t have the tools needed to discern the messages communicated in our favorite movies. It leaves us to ask the question: how can we discern what moviemakers are communicating in films today?
In the book Hollywood Worldviews, former screenplay writer Brian Godawa tells us how to discern the messages being communicated in the movies we watch and not just being pacified by them. Godawa uses his writing experience to explain the structure of storytelling in films, which is essential for quality and significant in understanding the messages with films. We walk through the reality of worldviews that are communicated in every film we watch, whether we realize it or not. Godawa explains two of the most prevalent views present in films produced by Hollywood, existentialism and postmodernism. He also presents the reality that Hollywood’s portrayals of spirituality, faith, and even angels and demons, are tainted, often with the intention of making Christians look foolish and intellectually inferior as a result of blind faith. But even in the middle of all the conflicts in worldviews portrayed in films, he concludes that even though Hollywood is seemingly opposed to us, there is still a way to watch movies with integrity in our faith, finding a way to be in the world but not of it. This is all explained in a friendly writing style with examples for several films to illustrate his point. This is a great book and can be a fantastic resource, especially if you work with teens or are the parents of teens. I highly recommend this book to anyone! Get a copy today!
[Note: I did not realize until after I completed this review that the edition of this book I own is actually out of date. The first edition is dated 2002. The second edition, which has an eye on the cover, is dated 2011. This version of the book has more updated film and media example than the edition I read and reviewed. If you plan to purchase this book, make sure it’s the more recent edition]
Lion's Eyes Reviews is a blog dedicated to reviews of Christian books, most of which are non-fiction, but may also occasionally review movies and musicals. It will also feature the work Bethel does to help launch and promote the works of Christian authors.
The name is derived from one of Bethel's favorite books, Through the Eyes of a Lion by Levi Lusko. Through these reviews, Bethel hope to give Christians the tools they need to look at the world "through the eyes of a lion" so they can find the courage to "run toward the roar".
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Bethel Grove is a Christian young woman who loves to read and write, eat Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Blizzards, and disciple teen girls as a youth leader. What started as a hobby of writing book reviews and doing deep biblical studies eventually led her down the path of self-publishing and helping other Christian authors launch their books. She hopes to someday be a vocational youth minister and well-known author.
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