The historical background of the life and ministry of Jesus is well portrayed by Chalke & Mann in The Lost Mesage of Jesus. Amongst the best I’ve seen in a popular book. (Though it should be realised that I do not read many popular books these days!) The marking out of how the various factions within first century Judaism saw the future coming of the kingdom of God is very useful. Jesus declared the kingdom had come, in radical contrast to the Jews.
That the essence of the kingdom is the ‘shalom of God’ seems to be made on the basis of a Pentecostal pastor’s assertion only. In summary, the sole reason for acceptance of this view appears to be because the prosperity gospel is wrong and doesn’t work.
They make a poor case. There must be a better argument than this.
Also, the shalom is seen to work out in terms of inner, social and political terms alone. How about this one: relationship to God? Does not man face the impending wrath of God?
I hope the answer is coming…
Messrs. Chalke and Mann (C&M) make an interesting introduction to their book The Lost Message of Jesus. Like good doctors, they try to diagnose the problems that many have with the Christian church. People often have many fragments of doctrine floating around their consciousnesses like a jumble of jigsaw pieces that they are unable to fit together. They often leave the church because they cannot piece them together to make sense. (C&M are careful to point out that the problems never seem to be with God or Jesus but with the church.) The answer, according to the authors, is to rediscover the message of Jesus (summarised as “The Kingdom, the in-breaking shalom of God, is now available to everyone through me”) in its original setting and “re-contextualise” it for the modern day.
There is no question that there is a problem. There is also no question that modern churches cannot seem to address the problems that many Christians face. There are problems with the standard of preaching and teaching (poor training, lack of a sense of purpose, hobby-horse preachers, bad theology). There are problems with how to offer pastoral care (what is pastoring? drinking cups of tea? looking after unwell and house-bound? leading ‘by streams of living water’? what?) And, yes, there are problems for many in knowing what it is Jesus Christ has called us to.
C&M are right to want to have another look at Jesus. What could be wrong with that? But (and it’s a big ‘but’) let’s make sure that the whole context is looked at. Having read the book through once, it is clear that the source materials for C&M are the gospels and 1st century history. This is good, but not all there is. For example, what does the OT say about the coming Christ? How did Jesus see himself in relation to it? Is that relevant? How would that change how we understand Jesus’ words? And then, what about Paul and the other writers – how did they see Jesus and his work? After all, the Gospels are not the direct writings of Jesus but are collections of stories and views of Jesus life recorded by others. So why stop at the Gospels?
This is my first thoughtful response to this book. I hope to make more comments on later parts of it, as time permits. Bear with me as I try to give it as charitable a reading as I can. If anyone thinks I am being uncharitable, let me know – I am well aware that I have my own presuppositions though I may not realise exactly what they are!
I’m almost finished The Lost Message which I have been reading in my spare time (which is pretty rare at the moment!). Steve Chalke makes some good points and he makes some howlers. I hope to comment in more detail at a later date, but it has been a frustrating read. Some pages I think he is on to something. Others I think he has missed the point because of a blinkered perspective. Some of it is downright confusing. 😦