Disclosure: This book was provided to me free of charge by The Ooze Viral Bloggers.
Imaginary Jesus is a hilarious, slightly irreverent, wholly challenging work from the pen of Matt Mikalatos. I’ll be the first to admit I’m usually not a big fan of “Christian fiction”, but Mikalatos pretty much had me engrossed by the end of the first chapter. His thesis? All too often, we settle for the constructions of Jesus bequeathed us through culture, religious tradition, or our own selfish projections of him, rather than searching to understand Jesus on his own terms. Before we can come to know the real Jesus, we must deal with our imaginary “Jesuses” and their grip on our lives.
What does Mikalatos mean by “Imaginary Jesuses”? A few examples:
- Televangelist Jesus – Jesus as faith healer / showman (“All you need is greater faith!”)
- Peacenik Jesus – Jesus as “give peace a chance” flower guy, who is always locked in opposition to…
- Political Jesus – Jesus as imperialist, advocating the coming of His Kingdom through the power of the empire, specifically the United States of America.
- Testosterone Jesus – the Jesus we usually encounter at Men’s Retreats who implores us to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and be better husbands and fathers.
Some of these projections of Jesus are pretty comical; others are more nuanced and require greater reflection and self-honesty. But in the end, Mikalatos is willing to take his readers on a journey of serious contemplation about what it means to follow Jesus in today’s world.
I appreciated Mikalatos’ deft use of scripture throughout his writing. While he rarely cites book, chapter, and verse, his narrative is brimming with Christ’s teachings from the Gospels, particularly the Gospel of John. These references help ground this wild and unpredictable tale.
I would recommend Imaginary Jesus to anyone who is serious about being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
(To learn more about Matt, follow him at imaginaryjesus.com)