Saturday, May 11, 2013

Book Review: Prototype

Jesus is our prototype for a new way to be human.

This is the thesis for Jonathan Martin’s new book, Prototype (Tyndale House, 2013). Jonathan pastors a group called Renovatus in Charlotte, North Carolina, and it is his passion to show in the book all the difference the resurrected Christ makes in the world through his people. In this goal Martin succeeds, as story after story is told to show how the life of Christ is enfleshed in his broken and beloved people and overflows into the surrounding neighborhoods. For the purposes of this review, I want to look briefly at each of the chapter headings and offer a summary statement of what is covered to show how they flow.

  1. Identity - do you know who you are? It is possible for us to become fully human in the precise ways Jesus was, but we must come to believe what Jesus believed so that we do the things he did. Jesus embraced his identity as God’s Beloved and by doing so became fully human. The path is the same for us.

  2. Beloved - “knowing how loved we are by God makes all the difference in the kind of people we will become” (31).

  3. Obscurity -  seasons of darkness and wilderness are gifts from the Father to expose how broken and beloved we truly are.

  4. Calling - his love makes us lovesick for him and for other broken people. We are called to share the love we have been richly given.

  5. Wounds - our wounds authenticate us and make us accessible, just like Jesus.

  6. Resurrection - the “life of the future” invades our present, with wonder and abundant life for disciples of Jesus.

  7. Sacraments - the resurrection is bodily and earthy; we are reminded that Jesus was a God we could touch and who could touch us, a mission carried on through his children now. We are Kingdom bearers as we touch and bless others, through things like baptism, foot washing, anointing the sick and celebrating communion.

  8. Community - we need each other; other Kingdom bearers touch us and draw us in to our own belovedness.

  9. Witness - we bear witness to how God is making all things new (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as an example). We must know our beloved identity (Beloved) because it is precisely our story to tell, our story that fits into the story of Jesus.

  10. Letter to a Ravaged Bride - a moving message written to the church from a participant and critic (Martin). This reminds me of what has been reported to have been said by Dorothy Day, “the church is a whore, but she is my mother.”

You can see the clear flow of ideas throughout this engaging book. I was richly blessed as several main themes seemed to deeply resonate with other things I’ve been thinking about lately, mainly from Dallas Willard, ideas about the Kingdom of God and how we are bearers of that Kingdom with incredible dignity. I also really appreciated the dual emphasis on our identity as “broken and beloved.” It is a missing category in much Christian teaching and ministry today.

I guess my only criticism would be that the book is pretty much only tangentially rooted in Scripture. I think it’s message is thoroughly biblical, but it’s rootedness in Scripture could have been more explicitly expressed.

Click here for a Q & A with the author

Click here for a sample chapter (chapter 1)

This book was provided free of charge courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers for the purposes of this review.

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