Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: Who Is This Man? By John Ortberg

Recently, my friend Doug Scott, the former creative officer for Nuru International, and the founder of the Chicago based media firm, Advocate Creative told me about a project he was working on. Doug and I became friends through Nuru back in 2008, and thankfully, he and his team are still actively involved in creating incredible videos, and other media for Nuru. Now though, by forming Advocate Creative he and his team are able to work on a more diverse array of projects.

One of his team’s more recent projects is the video embedded in this blog post. It is a short teaser video to promote a new book by a guy named John Ortberg who leads a church in Menlo Park, California. By the way, John and his wife Nancy, are both very talented authors and passionate supporters of Nuru’s work as well. Both John and Nancy have written a number of books, and all are quite good, but this one has become extra special since one of my good friends was involved in the process of promoting the book.

To start, I have to admit that, had my friend Doug not encouraged me to check it out, I probably would not have read this book. There are about 1500 books written each year about the life of Jesus, and very few are saying anything really new. Besides, just like many others, my life is pretty busy, and when I read a book, I want it to be a worthwhile use of my time. I want the book to be something that will be formative, and maybe help me be a better human being.

I ordered a copy of this book, Who Is This Man?online, and when it arrived, one of the first things I noticed was the litany of blurbs about the book. Many authors and theologians who I deeply respect and appreciate had written a snippet about the value they saw in what Ortberg’s book had to say. People as diverse as Dallas Willard, N. T. Wright, and Shaine Claiborne had good things to say about this book, and remarkably, former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice wrote the foreword to the book.

But the book didn’t stop being quality at the end of the foreword. In fact, the array of comments had served the author and the book well by building a solid foundation from which to build and move forward.  The book is not an apologetic for Jesus being God. It is not a book that lays out steps to salvation or anything like that. It is more of an examination of the truly unpredictable impact that Jesus has had in the twenty centuries since his life.

Chapter after chapter, Ortberg sets the stage for what was considered normative at the time of Jesus, and how Jesus’ life has shaped for generations from then to now what values we tend to admire, how we treat others, and even how we have arrived at some of the systems we have today, like our education system.

I am really tempted to go into detail regarding some of the key insights of each chapter, but I don’t want to give too much away for you. I will say this. John Ortberg lifts up historical context around many of Jesus’ stories told in the gospels that allow us to see how truly profound his statements and teachings were. He also builds a compelling case that Jesus, through a relatively short period of time in his life was able to exert more influence on the way we live and think today than any person before him and really any person since.

If you enjoy historical biography, or if you want to learn more about the life and legacy of Jesus of Nazareth in a concise format, I highly recommend this book. I found it to be inspiring and life giving as I pursue this life of faith in Jesus the Messiah. It made me want to pour over scriptures with renewed vigor to study the life and example of how Jesus lived his life, and to work more zealously to live this life as He would live it, to live my life in service for others, and to truly love my neighbors.

May you enjoy your reading of this short book that illustrates some of the profound and unpredictable impact of the life of Jesus. I know I certainly did.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

John Ortberg is touted to be a 'spiritual formation' guru. I have read the book and hated it. On page 148 he tells a dirty joke, on 156 he uses coarse language. Ortberg clearly is an inclusivist and doesn't really understand what true evangelicalism is. His premise that Jesus changed the sciences, education, arts etc. is not established at all. God created Adam and Eve with intelligence at the beginning. The Fall notwithstanding, man still built great structures such as the wall of China and the Parthenon. Mathematics was partially developed in India. It contains a lot of inconsistencies with scripture. His advice at the end is "Try". The Gospel however is 'don't try'. Trust Christ.