Everyone has an imaginary Jesus. Whether it is Liberal Social Services Jesus, Conservative Truth-Telling Jesus, Political Jesus, Gay Jesus, Legalist Jesus, or some other Jesus, we all (both Christians and non-Christians) tend to make Jesus in our own image. We project our own cultural and personal biases onto him so that he doesn’t challenge us, the way the real Jesus does.
Matt Mikalatos has written a fun, fictionalized treatment of this concept in which he travels around Portland, Oregon, looking for the real Jesus and running into dozens of imaginary ones along the way. When I picked up the book, I was concerned that it would be very didactic and read like a Sunday-School lesson. Instead, it was a creative, imaginative, compulsively readable exploration of what it means to follow the real Jesus, over against all the imitations we create for ourselves. And just because this is fictionalized, that doesn’t mean that Mikalatos is a theological lightweight. I never ran across anything in the book that I regarded as unsound. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for an easy-to-read investigation of the imaginary Jesuses we all create, and how they fall short of the real thing.
There was an earlier edition of this book, called Imaginary Jesus, and it seems the only difference between that edition and this one are that this one has a new cover, a new foreword by David Kinnaman, and a discussion guide in the back.
Note: Thanks to Tyndale for a review copy of this book. I was not asked to give a positive review.