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The Lost Message of Jesus Paperback – March 3, 2004

3.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chalke, a British social activist, broadcaster and author of The Parenttalk Guide to Your Child and Sex and Faithworks, asserts that churches neglect Christ's basic message that "the Kingdom... is available now to everyone through me." Instead, Chalke says, pieces of Christ's message have been overemphasized and distorted. Like a refinisher removing lacquer from antique furniture, Chalke seeks to strip falsity and tradition from the gospel by examining the accounts of Christ's life in their original context. Clear explanations and plenty of anecdotes reveal truths that get little air time in most pulpits. For example, Jesus offered forgiveness outside the temple. In doing so, he brought hope to people the Pharisees had shut out of the temple—and threatened the nation's power structure. Such insights illustrate the immediacy of Christ's message; Chalke says Jesus offered forgiveness " 'right here, right now' and for free." But just as the furniture refinisher risks damaging the original while restoring its beauty, Chalke scrapes the outer boundaries of Christian orthodoxy with questionable treatment of the traditional Western notion of original sin (he cites no scripture in saying Christ emphasized humanity's "original goodness") and of the atonement. Chalke appears to reject the idea that Jesus' death was a sacrifice for sin, maintaining instead that the crucifixion destroyed "the ideology that violence is the ultimate solution." The book's intent—to free the gospel from religious bias and expose its unvarnished power—deserves kudos, but some traditional Christians may greet the specifics with skepticism.
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Review

Chalke, a British social activist, broadcaster and author of The Parenttalk Guide to Your Child and Sex and Faithworks , asserts that churches neglect Christ's basic message that 'the Kingdom... is available now to everyone through me.' Instead, Chalke says, pieces of Christ's message have been overemphasized and distorted. Like a refinisher removing lacquer from antique furniture, Chalke seeks to strip falsity and tradition from the gospel by examining the accounts of Christ's life in their original context. Clear explanations and plenty of anecdotes reveal truths that get little air time in most pulpits. For example, Jesus offered forgiveness outside the temple. In doing so, he brought hope to people the Pharisees had shut out of the temple---and threatened the nation's power structure. Such insights illustrate the immediacy of Christ's message; Chalke says Jesus offered forgiveness ' 'right here, right now' and for free.' But just as the furniture refinisher risks damaging the original while restoring its beauty, Chalke scrapes the outer boundaries of Christian orthodoxy with questionable treatment of the traditional Western notion of original sin (he cites no scripture in saying Christ emphasized humanity's 'original goodness') and of the atonement. Chalke appears to reject the idea that Jesus' death was a sacrifice for sin, maintaining instead that the crucifixion destroyed 'the ideology that violence is the ultimate solution.' The book's intent---to free the gospel from religious bias and expose its unvarnished power---deserves kudos, but some traditional Christians may greet the specifics with skepticism. (May) -- Publisher’s Weekly
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (March 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310248825
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310248828
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,248,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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If you have never read anything by NT Wright, this book would be a good introduction to themes and ideas that are commonly found in his writings. You could almost call this a Layman's Guide to NT Wright and the central message of Jesus and the Gospels.

NT Wright has shown us the importance of love and forgiveness in the message of Jesus, and Chalke and Mann summarize that message here by looking at some of the key texts and themes in the Gospels.

Since I have read a lot of NT Wright, and prefer writing that is a little more academic and detail-oriented, I found this book to be a little repetitive and basic. Also, although the authors frequently made good points and referenced some good book, there were no footnotes to be found anywhere. If I wanted to follow up on something they cited, there was no way to do so.

So if you haven't read much of NT Wright, but are curious about what he says, this might be a good book for you.
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Great to hear a refreshingly honest perspective on the real Gospel of Jesus Christ, rather than the damnation version we have mainly swallowed recently. I would have liked Steve to go a bit further still, but perhaps he went as far as he dare considering. Good book and time for the follow up dealing with real issues like redemption, salvation, the cross, the bible and a theological integrity that holds all these together with the real nature of God as love, not punitive. Who will write it and when?
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The Lost Message of Jesus (TLMOJ) was assigned as a text for a seminary course I am taking on "Kingdom, Church and World."

This book earns a rating of 4 stars because of its straightforward content and overall approachability. Throughout the book Chalke focuses on the biblical concept of the Kingdom of God, which is the dominant message in the life and teaching of Jesus. In doing so, as other reviewers have noted, the tone of the text emphasizes action, love and justice. Readers who might find this book to be "liberal" are probably approaching the TLMOJ from a different angle than the author and this may result in some discomfort. Chalke focuses on Jesus and the message he brings as is recorded in the Gospels. This message is comprised of his words, but perhaps more importantly his actions. Readers looking for the sinner's prayer or emphasis on personal salvation wont find it in TLMOJ because this idea is largely absent from the Gospels. I can't help but think that most of the objections raised by this book will largely be prompted by an American Evangelical reading of the Bible, rather than an honest assessment of Jesus as he lived and taught in the first century world.

As I read the book I kept thinking to myself "I have heard this before" and in most cases I had. A reader searching for a wealth of "original" material in TLMOJ may be disappointed as most of the content and ideas can be found more fleshed out in other sources; the influence of NT Wright is especially noticeable. That being said, the strength of the book is not its originality, rather it is its presentation. Chalke does a marvelous job of presenting a holistic understanding of the Kingdom of God in a book that is easy to read and easy to recommend.
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Format: Paperback
Steve Chalke and Alan Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003)

This was a controversial book when it came out in the UK. It is a fresh exploration of the radical, life-changing, world-shaping message Jesus brought. Putting aside our cultural lenses, the writers follow N T Wright in inviting us to see Jesus through first-century eyes to see the revolutionary power of the gospel. `What Would Jesus Do' paraphernalia is popular today, but useless without a grasp of how Jesus acted and related. His cultural vandalism, boundary-crossing and party-going nature undermines a lot of legalistic Christian practice today. Chalke and Mann question starting evangelism with a focus on sin; an important doctrine but not as important nor as inviting as God's unconditional love and his plan and destiny for people. And they critique a narrow gospel that saves people for heaven instead of inviting them also to live for the Kingdom now. Instead of `don't do this and that' or `repent and go to heaven' they suggest starting with `if you could know what God is doing and be part of it, would you want to?' They comment: `The world is full of people who have been told, time and again by the Church, what not to do. What they long to hear about is what God wants them to do. People are desperate for a message that they can buy into, that they can see will make a difference to them and to the world in which they live' (p.117).

Originally reviewed in Darren Cronshaw `The Emerging Church: Spirituality and Worship Reading Guide.' Zadok Papers S159 (Autumn 2008).
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Format: Paperback
In LMOJ, Stephen Chalke aims to recover the heart of the "lost message" of Jesus of Nazareth, which, as the author believes, has been forgotten through centuries of dogmatic church teachings, squabbles over doctrine, etc. In so doing, Chalke executes a poetic linguistic dance around such thorny topics as sin, man's total depravity and separation from the living and true G-d. While it's indisputable that Jesus took a special interest in outcasts, the downtrodden and broken hearted, I'm not sure what to make of Chalke's portrayal of Jesus as a first century social activist. Verses like, "What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For out of the heart of man come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickednes...All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person" (Mark 7:20-23), or "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick...For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Matt 9:12, 13) seem to contend with Chalke's belief that words like "sinner" are out of touch with today's world: "...Is this was we have reduced the majestic message of Jesus to?" (Chalke, 173). Isn't it true that Messiah's message was intended for the "lost sheep of the House of Israel", implying, of course, a certain lostness? And what is the root cause of this lostness but the inherent sinfulness and total depravity of humankind, whether Jew or Gentile? More importantly, how can we possibly know the glorious grace of the blessed G-d in Christ if we don't know that G-d loved us to the uttermost in spite of the fact that we deserve nothing but the full penalty of the Law?

There are no doubt some wonderful moments in this book, but overall, I don't know if I can endorse of a book that refuses to acknowledge some pretty important doctrines.
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