"If one reads between the lines, you will see that my hidden agenda is something I call Reality evangelism. Evangelism has been so abused that, for many Christians, it means 'winning souls' to Christ."

In his treatise on who Jesus of Nazareth was and is and what that should mean to all of us, author, artist, and Presbyterian minister Robert McClelland explores the title question through the lens of spiritual history. He presents God as, from the beginning, a learner as well as a doer. He constructs a charming and useful metaphor in which God is an artist whose painting comes alive; his creation moves outside his canvas and does what it pleases. McClelland sees spirituality as a work in progress; for example, he asserts that Job surprised God by challenging him, and Joseph amazed God when he forgave his brothers. Jesus must enter the story so that God can figure out for himself what it's like to be human. McClelland asserts that through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we were given the ability to move from the limited notion of sin, to forgiveness, and thence into reconciliation, in which the sinner and the sinned against can engage in dialog, admit equal culpability, and equally seek redemption. When God the artist paints redemption into his picture, there is great rejoicing.

McClelland writes with admirable competence and notable verve, and though the book's title is not new, the book's concepts are a fresh challenge to people of faith. They demand that we embrace a different kind of Christ, certainly not a namby-pamby one, and a religion that lives and breathes. The author has the heart to tackle a great truth: Jesus is bigger than religion, and his story can never be consigned to a single canvas. All thoughtful travelers on the spiritual path should welcome this small but powerful book.

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