Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Review: "The Jesus You Can't Ignore"

The Jesus You Can't Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ

by John MacArthur
Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 2008

In The Jesus You Can't Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ
John MacArthur (no relation) argues that Christ was not the meek, mild character modern Christianity has made him out to be. Yes, he dealt gently with sinners, healed the sick, and preached peace. In his dealings with the official Jewish religious establishment, however, he was much harsher. Not only that, he didn’t merely wait for them to question his teachings or his methods, he provoked them. As MacArthur points out, “from the time Luke first introduces us to the Pharisees in Luke 5:17 until his final mention of the ‘chief priests and rulers’ in Luke 24:20, every time the religious elite of Israel appear as a group in Luke’s narrative, there is conflict. . . When [Jesus] speaks to the religious leaders or about them – whether in public or in private – it is usually to condemn them as fools and hypocrites. When he knows they are watching to accuse Him of breaking their artificial Sabbath restrictions or their manmade systems of ceremonial washing, He deliberately defies their rules.”

“The Jesus You Can’t Ignore” is a very informative book. I learned much from his discussion of the various Bible texts in which Jesus confronted the Jewish establishment. However, MacArthur writes from an Evangelical perspective. His main purpose in writing this book is to encourage the Evangelical community to not back down from religious debate. He wants them to condemn false teachers and false teachings more and stand up for what is right. In his Epilogue, MacArthur does caution against “judging the secrets of men’s hearts – their motives, their private thoughts, or their hidden intentions.” However, he maintains that “people who actively teach serious error – especially doctrines that corrupt vital gospel truth – are to be confronted and opposed.” This creates some problems. As a Roman Catholic, I view MacArthur as a brother Christian, someone who I do not agree with totally, obviously, but a fellow Christian who is working for the kingdom of God. I feel that he is in error with some of his beliefs, but I trust that God will sort all that out. He feels that I am someone to be “confronted and opposed.” I believe I am right about my faith as much as he feels he is right about his. Neither one of us is going to win that battle. This is a book well worth reading, but it is important to know MacArthur’s purpose in writing before delving in.

Reviewed by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

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