The Jesus Manifesto

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : December 7, 2006

As I’ve been researching for my book “Resistance” in the past month, I’ve begun to realize that I need to write two books, instead of one. I believe that I need a first book to serve as an on-ramp to Resistance. Resistance is built upon certain assumptions that I have about Jesus Christ and what it means to follow him.

For a long time, I’ve considered writing a book called “the Jesus Manifesto” that would draw upon Luke 4:18-20 as Jesus’ manifesto for his ministry. Given that we, the church, are the embodiment of Christ in the world today, this passage should inform our own ministry–it should be our manifesto. We see this “manifesto” played out in Luke and Acts–and we see it foreshadowed in earlier passages of Luke like the Magnificat and Zechariah’s Prophecy. These passages are heavy laden with subversive flavors–as is the rest of Luke-Acts.

As I began to work on Resistance, I realized that the two books need to draw upon each other, and become a part of the same over-arching project. Our struggle to be faithful to Christ in the midst of Empire must center upon Christ’s presence among us and be informed by Christ’s own public ministry. And so, I will be talking to Wipf and Stock about expanding my book proposal. Instead of one book, I intend to write two:

1) The Jesus Manifesto

2) Communities of Resistance: Embodying the Jesus Manifesto in the American Empire

The first book will be a bit more accessible than the second, thought the second will build upon the first. Neither will be offering anything profoundly new in terms of insights–most of what I have to offer will be how I bring together and simplify lofty ideas into a two volume work that will hopefully be accessible to anyone who is seeking to follow Jesus Christ in America. The other, and perhaps more important, contribution I hope to make is giving real examples of churches that are faithfully resisting. I will be visiting five communities in the United States and sharing with my readers how they resist (I’ll do this mostly in the second book).

Mark Van Steenwyk is the editor of He is a Mennonite pastor (Missio Dei in Minneapolis), writer, speaker, and grassroots educator. He and his wife Amy have been married since 1997. They are expecting their first child in April.

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