The Jesus Paradigm

The Jesus Paradigm The Jesus Paradigm

Author: David Alan Black
Paperback: 151 pages
Publisher: Energion Publications
ISBN-10: 1-893729-56-3
ISBN-13: 978-1-893729-56-7

Barnes & Noble

First of all, I would like to thank Energion Publications for allowing me an opportunity to review this in advance of its publication.  I appreciate it greatly.

The Jesus Paradigm is David Alan Black’s latest book.  You may know that Black has authored some books in the past  dealing with Greek, text criticism, gospel studies, and others.  This book is a departure from those sorts of informational/educational books.  Instead, Black says that this book is:

written for anyone who is ready to build unity around the essentials of Christianity and get on with top priorities.  [vii]

Black’s purpose in this book is to ask his reader to rethink what they see as Christianity today, and instead recognize it as a “Christendom” that Christ never called them to.  According to Black, this “Christendom” is a politicized, self-serving thing that Christ did not want, but instead, stood against.

He sees the state of discipleship in America being sadly neglected.  Black wants all members of the Church involved in the Body of Christ.  For him the church today needs to be:

one that again asserts that the main task of theology is the formation of loyal disciples of God’s way, a community of believers in Jesus committed to service and, when necessary, to suffering and death.  [26]

Constantly recalling the ways of the Anabaptists of the 16th century, Black admonishes his reader that the Church needs a rebuilding rather than a reformation.  He suggests that the Church should look more closely at the New Testament Church and see that there is a plurality of elders rather than a single senior pastor, suggesting that all members of a local congregation take an active role in their church instead of leaving it up to one man.

Black says that:

One of the most important aspects of walking with Jesus is learning this lesson of serving different parts of the Body in times of special need, even if that means sailing against the prevailing winds.  [126]

He wants his reader to realize that Christ’s command to love your neighbor as yourself meant something.  He quotes Donald Kraybill, who says:

The disciples of Jesus are upside-down deviants.  They exceed conventional expectations.  They take the initiative.  They don’t discriminate between enemies and neighbors.  [127]

Black’s book is well-written and contains some nuggets that one must consider.  The ideas he has of Church leadership, discipleship, and missions are certainly worth the time of serious consideration.  He also shows that the Anabaptists were entirely different from the reformers or the Roman Catholics in a very thorough way and makes his reader really wrestle with the concepts that the Anabaptists put into practice.

The Jesus Paradigm does not cover how a local church might turn from being run in a clergy/laity method to a hekastological (everyone) method in any pracitcal way.  Even if a congregation agrees that there needs to not be a single pastor in charge of everything, what does the process of change into the new model look like?  Black’s only thought on this is that it can probably only be done in a new church plant.  Even if that is the case, what does this look like? How does it function in practical ways?

I am not as interested in this book as one more involved in NT backgrounds or theology, but I do recognize the importance of a book like this to those involved in missions (home or international) and church planting.  I would recommend this to those people especially.  You may not agree with everything Black says, but it will force you to wrestle with issues that you might not think about otherwise.

Grade: B



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