About the Jesus Manifesto
A manifesto is a public declaration of intentions—often of a political nature. It is a fun word to say (man-ih-fess-toe), but has negative connotations. Perhaps the two most famous manifestos are the Communist Manifesto (written by Marx and Engels) and the Unabomber’s (Theodore Kaczynski’s) Manifesto. Because of the negative connotations, a website called “the Jesus Manifesto” sounds a bit too communist, leftist, or anarchist–it reeks of revolution, of subversion, of upheaval.
That is entirely intentional. This website exists to subvert the Empire (wherever it is found). But more importantly, it exists to call people to embrace the Kingdom of God.
When Jesus started his ministry, he issued a manifesto–a statement declaring the coming of the Kingdom. To find Jesus’ manifesto, some people look to the Sermon on the Mount, but my vote is for Luke 4:18-19:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
This passage has all the earmarks of a political manifesto. To the 1st century Jew, it evoked images of Messiah, of Jubilee, of reversal. The passage sets a trajectory for the rest of Luke, as well as the book of Acts. And we believe that the Jesus Manifesto should be our manifesto as well.
We believe that the Kingdom of God is real, not an abstraction. We believe that Jesus is our king, not our figurehead. And if we are to follow him as our king, we must embrace the way of life that he sets out for us in the gospels.
The Jesus Manifesto is a clearinghouse for propaganda meant to frustrate and disrupt quaint notions of Jesus (and the even quainter notions of the religion he founded). You see, we’re convinced that what passes for Christianity in our culture has very little resemblance to the radical (and indeed political) movement Jesus started on the fringes of the Empire roughly two-thousand years ago. Most of the ways in which we’ve been taught to think about our faith get in the way of following Jesus. Some of the categories we’ve inherited—at least the ones I’ve inherited—are simply inadequate. And so, it is easy to follow our Christian convictions while being at odds with Christ.
But beyond disruption and subversion, we want to proclaim something much deeper–hope. You can only challenge things for so long before you need to help create the alternative. Ultimately, this is what the Jesus Manifesto is all about. We want to captivate you with a kingdom vision and explore what it would look like to make that a tangible reality.