Monday, July 4, 2016

Believing Jesus, by Lisa Harper

As I thought about my review of Lisa Harper's Believing Jesus: Are You Willing to Risk Everything? A Journey Through the Book of Acts, I considered saying something about how I didn't like her "informal teaching style and the tendency to weave pop culture into biblical narrative or to refer to the Apostle Peter as 'Pete,'" but apparently she has heard that before!  I wouldn't go so far as to call her a "narcissistic windbag," and I certainly would not make comments about her being "too chubby to be an effective video-based Bible teacher!"  People are mean; I try not to be.

All that said, I hope Ms. Harper won't be offended by my simply stating that I did not particularly enjoy Believing Jesus.  And yes, I'll admit that it's a question of preference and style.  I did not find her theology objectionable; it was her style that put me off.  I can see why she's a popular speaker for women's conferences.  She's funny and entertaining while being insightful and biblical.  Harper takes the book of Acts as her framework for a light and breezy tour of the early church.  Along the way we hear stories of family, her adoption of a Haitian orphan, and her own experiences as a Christian.  (I did love hearing about her adoption experience, it just seemed not to fit all that well with the overall book.)

She identifies the main theme of the book of Acts: "the inestimable treasure of Jesus Christ and the exorbitant price His ancient followers were willing to pay because of their relationship with him."  As we follow their example, we have to grapple with the difference between belief in Jesus and believing him.  "Believing Jesus means you're willing to risk everything you are and everything you have based on everything He taught and everything He did.  It means learning to love Him more than you love your own life."

If you can get past her casual, sometimes silly style, that powerful message is what comes through in Believing Jesus.  This would be perfect for your women's Bible study or discussion group or for personal study.  Casual style or not, Harper writes with conviction and truth that will challenge her readers.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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