While veteran narrator Patrick Lawlor possesses ample talent for the general duties at hand, one can't help wondering how such a noted preacher as Gomes-Harvard's longtime religion professor and campus chaplain-might have presented some of the more fiery elements of his material. Gomes's thesis centers on the established Christian community's reluctance to embrace a socially relevant theology. Gomes, a self-avowed "blue-state" clergyman, offers a harsh assessment of rigid and exclusivist fundamentalism. Yet he also calls to task his theologically moderate-to-liberal brothers and sisters inside mainline Protestantism for abandoning their social gospel heritage in favor of a watered-down and highly personalized brand of faith. Lawlor demonstrates a capacity for vocal inflection, reading inspiring quotes from such figures as Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. and theologian Paul Tillich with particular enthusiasm. But the shifts in tone and delivery that might fully convey the distinction between Gomes's sermon to the choir and his broader message for the culture at large sometimes are lost in the shuffle. Simultaneous release with the HarperOne hardcover (Reviews, Sept. 10). (Dec.).Copyright 2007Reed Business Information
The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: What's So Good about the Good News?by Peter J. Gomes
Jesus came preaching, but the church wound up preaching Jesus. Why does the church insist upon making Jesus the object of its attention rather than heeding his message? Esteemed Harvard minister Peter J. Gomes believes that excessive focus on the Bible and doctrines about Jesus have led the Christian church astray. "What did Jesus preach?" asks/em>/em>
Jesus came preaching, but the church wound up preaching Jesus. Why does the church insist upon making Jesus the object of its attention rather than heeding his message? Esteemed Harvard minister Peter J. Gomes believes that excessive focus on the Bible and doctrines about Jesus have led the Christian church astray. "What did Jesus preach?" asks Gomes. To recover the transformative power of the gospel—"the good news"—Gomes says we must go beyond the Bible and rediscover how to live out Jesus' original revolutionary message of hope:
"Dietrich Bonhoeffer once warned against cheap grace, and I warn now against cheap hope. Hope is not merely the optimistic view that somehow everything will turn out all right in the end if everyone just does as we do. Hope is the more rugged, the more muscular view that even if things don't turn out all right and aren't all right, we endure through and beyond the times that disappoint or threaten to destroy us."
This gospel is offensive and always overturns the status quo, Gomes tells us. It's not good news for those who wish not to be disturbed, and today our churches resound with shrill speeches of fear and exclusivity or tepid retellings of a health-and-wealth gospel. With his unique blend of eloquence and insight, Gomes invites us to hear anew the radical nature of Jesus' message of hope and change. Using examples from ancient times as well as from modern pop culture, The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus shows us why the good news is every bit as relevant today as when it was first preached.
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Meet the Author
Peter J. Gomes has been minister of Harvard University's Memorial Church since 1974, when he was appointed Pusey Minister of the church, and serves as Plummer Professor of Christian Morals. An American Baptist minister, he was named one of America's top preachers by Time magazine. He is the recipient of thirty-three honorary degrees and an Honorary Fellow of Emmanuel College, the University of Cambridge, England, where the Gomes Lectureship is established in his name.
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