Daniel Darling, vice president of communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has a new book coming out on September 1 entitled “The Original Jesus; Trading the MythsWe Create for the Savior Who Is“.
A more perfect author for this book could not be found, as a former pastor and a frequent author on websites such as The Gospel Coalition, Christianity Today, Relevant, etc., Daniel is well-qualified to write this book. Daniel is also a colleague and friend of mine, and agreed to do an interview about his newest book.
I’m also excited to announce that I’ll be giving away 3 copies of his book. Details for entering are at the end of the article.
Who is your intended audience?
I think it’s a little of both. On one level, I want to challenge Christians and their (our) paltry and domesticate view of Jesus. On the other hand, I want to tell those who might be interested or seeking Jesus that the Jesus they imagine they might like is not as great as the Jesus who is. This is why I begin with the “Guru Jesus” in the first chapter. Jesus, to many, is just a wise and wonderful teacher, but probably not quite the miracle-worker, water-walking, Lazarus-raising, sin-atoning, resurrected Jesus of the Bible. But the guru Jesus doesn’t get us any farther than the other teachers.
We need a Savior, a Lord, a King. We need, in other words, the real Jesus of Scripture.
Can you expound upon what types of myths the book tackles?
I tackle ten different incomplete ideas of Jesus: Guru Jesus, Red-Letter Jesus, American Jesus, Dr. Phil Jesus, Prosperity Jesus and a few others. The interesting thing about each of these Jesus myths is that they are partially true and yet woefully, sadly, wrong. And in accepting a partial Jesus, one who molds into our own image, we end up with someone altogether different than the real Jesus.
In many ways it tackles many false cultural assumptions about Jesus and His mission. For several decades now, the evangelical church has tried to refashion Jesus and make him popular. What we’ve been left with is altogether false and incomplete Jesus and a Jesus much less compelling than the Jesus of Scripture.
What compelled you to write the book?
I’ve seen a tendency in evangelicalism – and in my own heart – to make a Jesus in our own image. So we say things like, “The Jesus I know would never ________. ” The problem with that statement is that it puts us in a dangerous role, one reserved for Christ himself, the self-existent member of the Trinity. Jesus is not who I think he is or who I imagine him to be. Jesus is who He says He is, the Jesus revealed in Scripture.
This is not an attempt to make Jesus our mascot for our pet causes, someone who comes along and endorses our dreams and signs off on our lifestyles. I’ve found the real Jesus, the Christ who comes in and reorders our lives and renews our hearts, who conforms us into His image – this is the Jesus worth following. At the end of the day, we’ll be disappointed with counterfeit gods. We’ll only be satisfied with the one, true, living God as revealed in the person of Christ.
What are some ways you would encourage the church and Christians to use this book?
I would encourage churches, small groups, and individuals to use this book as a jumping off point for a robust exploration of Christ. In some ways this sounds cliche, because we are fond of saying, as evangelicals, “Everything is about Jesus.” But sometimes we can say the name “Jesus” and yet not be talking about him at all. We can raise our hands in worship and yet become sadly bored and detached. Every generation needs a fresh encounter with the risen Lord and a fresh exploration of the old truths, the old paths, the timeless stream of orthodoxy that has guided the church for 2,000 years. The more I studied for this book, the more enraptured and excited I became about Christ and His Kingdom.
As the culture changes around us, churches will be tempted to make Christ more palatable to the masses. But instead, the future of the church is with those who unflinchingly yield to the risen Christ, who is building His church from every nation, tribe and tongue and whose kingdom has no end.
What do you hope that readers will walk away with from reading the book?
I hope each reader comes away, as Peter did in Matthew 16:15 or Mark 8:29, in worship and surrender, at the question we are all forced to ask: “Who do you say I am?” The temptation will be to read a chapter and think of all the people who might have that incomplete picture of Jesus and use the book to score rhetorical points. But this book has been a real awakening in my own heart. My advice would be for Christians to look inside their own hearts and see the tendencies to reduce Jesus down to our size. I hope this will serve as both a devotional and apologetic.
BOOK GIVEAWAY Leave a comment for a chance to win The Original Jesus!
On August 15th, I will pick a name in a random drawing from all eligible entries received and send you an email notification. Limit one (1) entry per person; NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and Washington D.C. who are 18 or older as of date of entry.