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February 15, 2008

Introducing Mike Cain introducing REAL LIFE JESUS

by quaesitor
I’ve no idea how many Christian books get published every year in the UK – rather a lot, I suspect. Far too many, in fact, judging by the sorts of things that end up in the windows of CLC and Wesley Owen. What’s more there are loads written as Christian basics, or introductory books for enquirers. But every now and then a corker emerges. And having just read Mike Cain’s REAL LIFE JESUS, I have to say that this is one.

 

These are just some of the reasons I like it:
  • JOHN: We are taken on the journey of discovery and personal introduction which the apostle John leads us on in his gospel. It is so good to see presentations of the gospel which are governed by how the gospel writers themselves offer them. We might naturally take things in a different order or with different emphases – but methodologically, what Mike does here is on much safer ground. And where aspects of the narrative seem remote or culturally alien to modern ears, Mike does a good job at explanation. What’s more, he doesn’t fall into the preacher’s trap of ignoring the simple fact that John’s gospel is a narrative, a story which demands to be (and stands the test of being) told as such and not trawled for theological coat hooks. Through this modern retelling, we’re drawn into the conversations and discussions Jesus had with real people all those years ago.

Of course a book that is solidly faithful to a text could be stodgy and dull, and thus the sort one would only want to put into the hands of the most dedicated enquirer. For although faithful textual explanations of the text must be the bare minimum, you need that extra something for a book like this…

  • CONVERSATIONAL: My guess is that these started out as sermons which were then adapted into book form – and this gives them an accessible and immediate, almost conversational style. This book is therefore a very easy read (which is no mean feat in itself).
  • FRESH & FUN: While of course Mike is not flippant when dealing with serious issues, he has a lovely lightness of touch and joie de vivre that sparkles through. This makes his illustrations vivid and captivating, and his humour is engaging and self-deprecating. There is both a humanity and clarity in all that he says. It’s certainly the only book I know that describes with chuckling compassion the human condition as being like a pod of beached whales (a running theme through the book), or likening Jesus claims’ to those of Mike pretending to be Elvis’ manager. There are lots of great one-liners and unusual angles which stick in the mind like grass burs.
Normally, when preachers trawl books written by friends, we spend most of the time scouring the ground for good illustrations which we can nick. Well – there were plenty here – but Mike’s writing actually made me want to read it all, which gives me greater confidence that people I might want to give it to will want to read it all as well.

 

So great job, Mike. And yes, I think i will be nicking some of your illustrations!

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