As someone who came to Jesus after reading the New Testament (specifically, the book of Matthew) and realizing that what Jesus taught was not like what most Christians I knew at the time lived, I love this book. After spending years in a really great church, I still got sidetracked by "Christianese" and all the other things I found confusing at first. I now know the lingo, know all the doctrine, have sound theology (as far as I am able), and have read most of my Bible more than once.
I have verses memorized; I have learned to submit more and more to the Holy Spirit's leading in my life. But I have always remained uneasy with the thought of evangelism in the traditional sense. My stomach would clench up, and I wouldn't know what to say.
Reading this book has reminded me of why I became a Christ follower in the first place: Jesus Himself. I was blown away by the things He said; by the Sermon on the Mount; by how He treated women and children. I resolved then and there that I would follow Him, but that I would do what He said instead of what hypocritical Christians did. (haha! I was so arrogant that I thought it would be easy. I have made many mistakes over the years.)
I sometimes forget that Jesus is still the one who draws us to Himself, and He is so patient with us that He does it "while we are yet sinners." Thanks, Carl, for pointing my eyes back to Him and giving me the freedom to just share Jesus, without having to defend all the horrible things that can exist in "Christianity" that I used to (and still do) hate.
This is a really great, engaging, funny read, with lots of challenging, paradigm-shifting remarks in it. Some are easy to swallow, and some are not, but they are all worth thinking on. This book has been a great tool to point me more fully towards Jesus again, and towards studying the Gospels some more.
I would also like to point out that Carl Medearis in no way says that the entire Bible is not important. He actually emphasizes that he does believe every word in it. He merely challenges the North American social paradigms that surround our Christian culture, and he suggests that there are ways to tell people about Jesus without giving them a whole theology lesson in one sitting. There is plenty of time for Jesus to speak to disciples as they walk the long road with Him.
What a great book for anyone who wants to share their faith with some effectiveness. The author is very self effacing in a disarming and humorous way. There are many truly great stories of changing lives by sharing Jesus rather than religion. It is one of my favorites of the year!
Although the author makes a few good points here and there, this book has so many problems that it will soon be forgotten.
The author says there is a place for theology, but he believes we shouldn't talk about doctrine or theology when we evangelize. (Stay away from Paul and his teachings, 4 Spiritual Laws, Roman's Road, etc. He says not everything in the Bible is of equal importance.) In fact he says we shouldn't evangelize; instead, we should just be real nice and talk about Jesus constantly.
It seems that when we talk about Jesus constantly we shouldn't talk about His teachings because that would be divisive. He also says the hard teachings of Jesus are "both misunderstood and overused". (He makes no attempt to provide a proper understanding.) We don't want to offend with words like sin or hell so we should just talk about how Jesus loved everyone, liked to party, and would always choose to hang out with an atheist rather than a follower of God. (He seems to have forgotten that Jesus hung out with 12 followers of God almost 24/7 for 3 years.)
The author doesn't like the words Christian or Christianity because he says they carry so much baggage (probably true) and because these terms fail to mention Jesus. However, since "Christ" means anointed one and is used over and over again throughout the New Testament to refer to Jesus, I find this a ridiculous argument.
The author also suggests we stop using the words "Bible" and "missionary"--He says "Bible" is an old word that turns people off and since missionaries typically "spread capitalism and democracy and political idealism and Westernism and import a new religion," we should avoid this word as well. (I wonder how many missionaries he's met?)
He's also not keen on the word "evangelize." He says that although the Greek word "evangel" is used 118 times in the New Testament, it is better and "more biblical" to instead talk about making disciples, which he admits is a phrase used only once.
Nowhere in this book does the author even mention the effects of the fall and spiritual forces of darkness which blind us in our natural state and cause us to view the gospel as foolishness.
While I agree with the author that we should talk about Jesus (and I would add "His kingdom") constantly, his desire to remove everything that could be offensive from his conversations with unbelievers will achieve little more than making him more popular with sinners than those who teach from the whole Bible. Nobody is offended by Carl Medearis' Jesus; in fact EVERYBODY likes him!
The simplicity of the thesis of Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Non-Evangelism is something the Western World needs to relearn. The bible is a book that speaks to the Eastern mind and the final command of Jesus was to go and make disciples of all nations. We are to be workers together with God and that means we have to give Jesus room to move in peoples' hearts. Thank you Carl.
In a culturally diverse world, Carl Medearis realizes that the word "Christianity" can mean a dozen different things to a dozen different people, and that when talking with non-believers, we can avoid miscommunication by talking about Jesus instead. Medearis's evangelism methods are not traditional, making for some very entertaining reading. I found myself thinking "I can't believe he said that", and at the same time, was impressed with the creativity that he uses when he is talking to a non-believer in order to communicate in a way that keeps them open minded. I requested this title to review as the topic is one I have been studying lately. The concepts are so different from how we as Christians instinctively think, I want to go through the book again, a bit slower with a more critical eye. He asks lots of questions while he talking with non-believers, and these are the kinds of tools I want to re-read and retain to help me in future conversations when speaking of Jesus.
The endorsements of the book are truly a reflection of its impact upon me. I found myself seriously challenged as to how I interact with people, and above all how I represent and reflect Jesus to others. I cannot but also highly endorse this very thought provoking and personally challenging book.