Jesus Made in America: A Cultural History from the Puritans to The Passion of the Christ

Stephen J. Nichols, Author . InterVarsity $20 (237p) ISBN 978-0-8308-2849-4

After complimenting the Puritans for a vibrant spirituality grounded in sound biblical and church theology, Lancaster Bible College professor Nichols shows how subsequent generations of Americans have reduced Jesus to whatever best fits their needs. The book demonstrates in humorous detail how Jesus has proved to be a malleable figure in American culture and politics, from Jefferson's moral-exemplar Jesus to the manly Jesus of Billy Sunday, or from a “trivialized” Precious Moments Jesus to Focus on the Family's Republican Jesus. Nichols contends that reducing Jesus in this way is harmful. Although the book spotlights “the Jesus of American evangelicalism,” its chapters on contemporary images of and ideas about Jesus are filled with references that any modern American reader will recognize. For nonevangelical Americans, bemused by the proliferation of Jesus paraphernalia among believers, such discussion offers welcome perspective. Nichols's critique may not persuade his fellow evangelicals to tune out the ubiquitous “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs or turn off Veggie Tales . But his call to humbly accept that Jesus is more complex than a slogan or plaything strikes a chord. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/24/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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