Not Your White Jesus

Not Your White Jesus

Jesus is not white. Jesus is not American. Jesus does not want to make America great. While many of us grew up looking at gleaming portraits of Jesus with blond, flowing hair and hearing sermons reaffirming that we have the answers to save a fallen world, the real Jesus--a Middle Eastern Jew preaching radical, humble, self-emptying love--calls us to a different life.As we...

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Title:Not Your White Jesus
Author:Sheri Faye Rosendahl
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Not Your White Jesus Reviews

  • Stephany Snell

    In the current climate of our society, I often feel a bit isolated in my thinking. I find myself wondering if other people that call themselves Christians are reading the same Bible that I am and apologize far too often for the condemning & judgmental actions of the people that call themselves followers of a God that practices love, grace & mercy in a capacity so far beyond our mortal scope of imagination that we can’t really even comprehend it. Not Your White Jesus by Sheri Faye Rosenda

    In the current climate of our society, I often feel a bit isolated in my thinking. I find myself wondering if other people that call themselves Christians are reading the same Bible that I am and apologize far too often for the condemning & judgmental actions of the people that call themselves followers of a God that practices love, grace & mercy in a capacity so far beyond our mortal scope of imagination that we can’t really even comprehend it. Not Your White Jesus by Sheri Faye Rosendahl lets me know that I’m not alone. There are others that get it. Others that realize the hypocrisy in quoting scriptures to justify prejudices while conveniently omitting the parts where it says not to judge. This book re-ignited my fire & I’m so thankful for the chance to read an advanced copy. My only complaint about this book is that most of the people that could benefit most from the perspective it offers will likely never read it.

  • Rich Rosendahl

    I have read this book a few times and I weep that it wasn’t available 10 years ago! With a strong theological background, across many perspectives, it was easy for me to see that Sheri brings new life to our often tainted view of Jesus and humanity. She delivers an insightful analysis that requires readers to be; courageous. For far too long we have blindly followed the theological lead of seemingly well-read white men. Men like me who led us straight into the mess of 2016. With the courage to o

    I have read this book a few times and I weep that it wasn’t available 10 years ago! With a strong theological background, across many perspectives, it was easy for me to see that Sheri brings new life to our often tainted view of Jesus and humanity. She delivers an insightful analysis that requires readers to be; courageous. For far too long we have blindly followed the theological lead of seemingly well-read white men. Men like me who led us straight into the mess of 2016. With the courage to open our eyes, acknowledge and reject our blindness, we can now sit and learn with a new leader, Sheri Faye Rosendahl. I can’t help but wonder how the world might be different had this book been available 10 years ago, when the foundation was laid for the disaster that is today. For those of you willing to pick this up, I encourage you to sit quietly with Sheri as you read this, listening to her voice and her insight into the teachings of Jesus. And if you can find the courage to open yourself to these ideas, you will also discover a Jesus that so few theologians (especially white men) ever come to know...

  • Amy Nora

    This was a brilliant and brutal look at the American church. Christianity requires radical love; when we see how the American Church, especially white Evangelicals, have behaved inn the last 5-10 years there has been a degrading of what the Bible says and a greater selling out to political factions. Reading Sheri's work was exhilarating. Each page seemed to challenge a bit more. I hope we in the American church could learn to live a radical life of love rather then one of fear, especially consid

    This was a brilliant and brutal look at the American church. Christianity requires radical love; when we see how the American Church, especially white Evangelicals, have behaved inn the last 5-10 years there has been a degrading of what the Bible says and a greater selling out to political factions. Reading Sheri's work was exhilarating. Each page seemed to challenge a bit more. I hope we in the American church could learn to live a radical life of love rather then one of fear, especially considering we have such an abundance.

    I did receive an ARC.

  • Katra

    The informal voice of Sheri Faye Rosendahl's writing style may well distance many intended readers. I hope that I'm wrong because her voice needs to be heard by, well, everyone. Yes, in parts it may seem like she's yelling. She obviously cares deeply and urgently wants to get her message across. True, her views may seem a bit radical, but they're worth pondering. This is a book I highly recommend for anyone who has any desire to follow Jesus, love their fellow man, or make the world a better pla

    The informal voice of Sheri Faye Rosendahl's writing style may well distance many intended readers. I hope that I'm wrong because her voice needs to be heard by, well, everyone. Yes, in parts it may seem like she's yelling. She obviously cares deeply and urgently wants to get her message across. True, her views may seem a bit radical, but they're worth pondering. This is a book I highly recommend for anyone who has any desire to follow Jesus, love their fellow man, or make the world a better place. No, these groups are not mutually exclusive, but I'm don't think that the message is confined to a Christian audience.

    In our present climate of discord and division, there is no greater message for dedicated Christians, those searching for religious meaning, anyone with slightly spiritual leanings, or anyone concerned with the overall state of our planet than this impassioned plea for a return to the second great commandment to love our neighbors. Her thoughts are well argued and, for me, very convincing. I'll be thinking about this book for a long time to come.

    Thanks to NetGalley and Westminster John Know Press for making an advance copy available for an honest review.

  • Shannon Holmes

    Let me preface my review with, I am a white, middle class, conservative Christian, I even homeschool my children. When I saw the cover of this book, I could feel my defenses rising, after reading the summary, I am still not sure this is a book I want to spend my time reading, but there was something leaving me slightly intrigued. I went to the author's website and realized immediately that there were going to be several points in her book that I would probably not agree with, but that is ok, we

    Let me preface my review with, I am a white, middle class, conservative Christian, I even homeschool my children. When I saw the cover of this book, I could feel my defenses rising, after reading the summary, I am still not sure this is a book I want to spend my time reading, but there was something leaving me slightly intrigued. I went to the author's website and realized immediately that there were going to be several points in her book that I would probably not agree with, but that is ok, we should not always agree on everything, but I did see that she was passionate. There was a fire in her soul and she had a message burning to get out. You have to admire when someone has something burning in them, so I knew then, I had to read this book. After finishing the book, I do not agree with everything Sheri Rosendahl wrote, I could even choose to be offended, but at the end of the day, we as the church need to realize that we could do a much better job. Politics aside, there is so much hurt in our world, we could all do a better job of being more like the Red-Letter Jesus. Unfortunately, the picture that Sheri paints of the White-Jesus church is exactly what many people are going to relate to, they are going to read this book and say, I have had the exact same experience. With that, I would challenge anyone that sees this book, is instantly bristled by the title, to go ahead and read it, but do so with an open mind, and consider, this is how people view us, until we can show them something different.

  • Lew Button

    Not Your White Jesus

    Not Your White Jesus is a disturbing book. First it is disturbing because so much of what Sheri Faye Rosendahl has to say about the church is true. The predominant church in the US (the White-Jesus Church as she calls it) is not known for its compassion and love. The author is not the first person to see this or to write about it. This is a theme in the book "They Love Jesus but not the Church" by Dan Kimball. Nevertheless, it is disturbing to read about someone else who has

    Not Your White Jesus

    Not Your White Jesus is a disturbing book. First it is disturbing because so much of what Sheri Faye Rosendahl has to say about the church is true. The predominant church in the US (the White-Jesus Church as she calls it) is not known for its compassion and love. The author is not the first person to see this or to write about it. This is a theme in the book "They Love Jesus but not the Church" by Dan Kimball. Nevertheless, it is disturbing to read about someone else who has seen the ugliness of the church and experienced it.

    I can offer no excuse for this unloving behavior and I have committed many years of my life to presenting a picture of the Church that Jesus intended. However, I have done this within the context of that Church the author seems to despise. One of my concerns about this book is that the author seems to judge the church for its lack of love while exhibiting little love for that church she is condemning.

    One of my favorite Christian writers told a story years ago about two authors who both wrote books about their concerns for the church. One of the books was moderately successful while the other was not well read at all. The less successful author spoke of his frustration that his book was not well received even though the theme was the same as the other writer. The response of this older, wiser writer was, “You both wrote about the church, but the other writer said it in love”.

    I agree with Ms. Rosendahl that the Church is not known for its love and grace, but I was not seeing her love. Jesus butted heads with the Pharisees and the religious leaders of his day, but he died for them. Some of them became followers, for one Paul, the Pharisee of the Pharisees.

    I also find this book frustrating because the author seems to prioritize love (which she seems to imply means making people feel good or safe) over truth. The author and I would certainly disagree on some of the specific issues she discusses, like LGBTQ+ and abortion but I would hope we would agree that we can’t put love and truth at opposite poles where we have to choose one or the other.

    I won’t give my views on the LGBTQ+ debate except for two comments. Christians are called to love everyone and by this, I mean there is no place for the hateful words spoken by many “Christians” against those in the LGBT community. For those who see this as a sin I would say it is not the only sin and we do not have a right to pick and choose. I would pick gluttony and gossip if I were to picket.

    My other comment has to do with the author’s opinion at Kindle location 1763. She writes, “When we look at groups like the LGBTQ+ community which are nonjudgmental, loving, kind, and generous, they look a hell of a lot like a ‘good’ tree”. I am sure that many in this community are loving, kind and nonjudgmental but this opinion can’t cover the whole community just as we can’t say that everyone in the White Jesus Church is an SOB.

    Speaking of SOBs, let me raise the question about the use of profanity in a book about Jesus and the Church. The writer uses a plethora of words that I was forbidden to use and do not use to this day, even if i hit my thumb with a hammer.

    I grew up in an environment in which there was no place for “Cuss words”. We were not even allowed to use “minced Oaths” that means a word that is not a cuss word but is used in place of a cuss word like Jiminey Cricket or darn. So, my question about the use of profanity comes in part from my culture. Plus, I’m old.

    However, I did ask some Millennials for their take on this. One of them said that the writer seems to have bought into and immersed herself in the culture around her. Another said, I don’t think it is appropriate for a book about Jesus and the Church.

    I don’t want to miss the point of what the writer is saying because I am hung up on the words she uses but I do wonder what the point is. Is it to alienate old farts like me? What a shame. The church needs to hear a clear voice calling, “Return to Jesus”.

    I relieved a copy of this book from netgalley.com with the understanding that i would write a review.

  • Lisa

    This book was an excellent challenge to my faith. Sheri compares what she calls the American White Jesus to the Red Letter Jesus of the Bible. She makes it very clear how terribly short many Christians fall from what the person of Jesus would want. She hits on all sorts of current topics, such as the #MeToo movement, the LGBTQ issue, the Middle East, the NRA and the actions of our current President.

    She clearly has a passion for helping the "other". And her passion shows very clearly in her writi

    This book was an excellent challenge to my faith. Sheri compares what she calls the American White Jesus to the Red Letter Jesus of the Bible. She makes it very clear how terribly short many Christians fall from what the person of Jesus would want. She hits on all sorts of current topics, such as the #MeToo movement, the LGBTQ issue, the Middle East, the NRA and the actions of our current President.

    She clearly has a passion for helping the "other". And her passion shows very clearly in her writing. She has traveled the world more than anyone I know personally. I'm guessing she has also made more of a difference for people than anyone I will ever meet.

    After reading this book, I know there are some immediate changes I want to make. They don't have to be big, and I won't share which parts of this book really resonate with my soul, but I don't think you could read this book and not make a change in yourself.

    Having said all that, I think she uses profanity far too often. I don't think it is necessary for this context. I also think she sometimes crosses lines between Christianity and what a kind person would do. She gives several examples of where Muslim people she knows are the perfect example of living like the Red Letter Jesus would have us live. Muslims don't believe in Jesus as their Savior, so they would not believe in those Red Letter words. So, they can be great people. They can be extremely generous, kind, loving, accepting, peaceful, joyful, etc. But, they aren't living a Christian life because they don't believe in Christ. A total atheist can be an awesome person and live a great life. A Christian can be a selfish person. Our works don't make our faith. I would hope that for most people, we would want our lives to reflect our faith, but Jesus never made that a requirement.

    I can't wait to go out and be the change that Sheri has inspired me to be!

  • enyanyo

    Oh my…this book was hard to read. The author is quite passionate about social justice and encourages us to trade white Jesus for the real, red-letter, radical, and counter-c

    Oh my…this book was hard to read. The author is quite passionate about social justice and encourages us to trade white Jesus for the real, red-letter, radical, and counter-cultural Jesus. My favourite chapter was the one on materialism. A major problem I had with reading

    was the author's tone; I found her a bit too flippant for my liking, considering the topics at hand. She makes a lot of generalisations and completely ignores nuance when writing about topics like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or immigration. Overall, okay book but really not for me!

  • Brian Proffit

    First, I want to emphasize that the author does make valid, important points. Yes, a large “but” is coming, but I need to emphasize that we shouldn’t miss the validity of some of her underlying points just because of the antagonistic way she makes them. Large parts of the American Church has moved away from Jesus’ example.

         Second, she is a product of current American culture. We have large

    First, I want to emphasize that the author does make valid, important points. Yes, a large “but” is coming, but I need to emphasize that we shouldn’t miss the validity of some of her underlying points just because of the antagonistic way she makes them. Large parts of the American Church has moved away from Jesus’ example.

         Second, she is a product of current American culture. We have largely lost our ability to make our point without attacking those who disagree. It is uncivil and unfortunate, but it’s where we are. I’m a bit disappointed that Westminster John Knox Press is publishing something with that tone, but the very title of the book makes it clear that this book is a verbal assault—and the author certainly fulfills that promise. She is as needlessly extreme, intolerant, and insulting as today’s talk shows. If you can, please try to wade through that, remembering my first point above.

         Third, she paints with far too broad a brush. She stereotypes rather severely, and makes some baseless assumptions. One common one in our culture that she repeats is that just because someone was

    Hillary Clinton, they must be

    Donald Trump. The U.S. two-party system all too frequently leaves us with no choice we particularly like. I know many people who couldn’t stomach Senator Clinton’s profiteering, deceit, and irresponsibility, but are not happy with how the alternative has worked out.

         Fourth, I think it is very unfortunate that she chose the “White” label. That implies that it is an ethnic issue, when in fact her arguments are largely against a Conservative-Jesus. The abundant use of “White-Jesus” was so off-putting as to make me not want to continue reading. It is a huge, unnecessary distraction from what she is trying to say.

    One of her baseless assertions (which made me want to stop reading before I was 5% in) is, “White-Jesus Christianity is a crusader for the right to birth while blatantly disregarding a right to life as it writes off children slaughtered around the globe in American drone strikes as ‘collateral damage.’”

         I do not know a single Christian who writes off slaughtered children as collateral damage. That is ridiculous and insulting, and the author loses much credibility by making such an unsupportable claim. She would be far better advised to

    Christians whether pro-life means all children, everywhere, including those killed in drone strikes—which, I think, is the real (and valid) point on her mind.

    The author is far better when she points out truths such as, “People called him the Son of God, and yet he hung out with those that most people wouldn’t even give a second look and was only really harsh on the self-righteous religious people.” That is a fantastic wake-up call for many. But she confuses issues. She follows great points like...

    “Can you imagine what the world would look like if the thousands of Christian churches in this nation actually lived like Jesus? Generous with their funds, maybe housing the poor instead of spending millions of dollars on brand new fancy buildings?”

    ...with ill-considered assertions like:

    “According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, around 21 percent of children in the U.S. live below the federal poverty line. That’s close to 15 million children living below the poverty level—the second highest rate of child poverty of any developed nation. That is appalling in itself, but in a nation that claims to follow the ways of a man who lived his entire life serving the poor, it is straight up shameful.”

         No, the U.S. does not claim to be a Christian nation. In fact, Christians are about the only category of people that it is acceptable to ridicule here. You certainly couldn’t say anything negative about Muslims, blacks, gays, the disabled, or really any other group besides Christians. To imply that White-Jesus Christians are the reason there are so many U.S. children below the poverty line is ludicrous. She would be far better advised to ask the valid question of why

    —not a non-Christian nation—aren’t doing more to address the problem.

    When she makes the broad assertion that “mega churches produce multi-millionaire pastors,” she sheds more credibility, because she proves she is spouting opinion but hasn’t bothered searching for the truth. If she had she would know, for example, that Rick Warren takes no salary whatever from Saddleback Church.

         Unfortunately, all this loss of credibility (and her flippant use of “J-man”) can make it easy to overlook her brilliant, impactful, modern paraphrase of the Good Samaritan.

    I quickly grew sick of her use of terms like “red-letter Jesus” and “red-letter Christians.” If you want to talk abut the

    Jesus rather than the churchified Jesus I will be onboard completely, and celebrate your efforts to point out the difference. But are we to throw out all that others taught us about Jesus in the rest of the Bible? Is that not making yourself the arbiter of truth rather than the Bible? If you aren’t prepared to believe other parts of the Bible’s teaching about Jesus, why would you believe the red letters? And please, by all means, show me the early biblical manuscripts with Jesus’ words in red.

         The author was blatantly hypocritical about this. “Let’s talk a bit about the Jesus of the red letters who was born a little over two thousand years ago in a little town called Bethlehem.” Sorry, there’s nothing in the red letters about being born in Bethlehem.

    refer to the biblical Jesus and get rid of all the red-letter idolatry.

    The author challenges us with, “I could be wrong, and if someone could explain how these self-proclaimed American Christian views of White-Jesus align with the true Jesus, please enlighten me.” No, those are not self-proclaimed views. You are the only one who has proclaimed them to be American White-Jesus views.

    In her zeal for the people of Palestine she describes Israel this way, “It’s an apartheid state, one which is basically funded and strongly supported by the American White-Jesus Church with its weird Christian Zionist ideals.”

         Yes, I get that Jesus was Palestinian. I also read in the Bible that that had nothing whatever to do with his ministry. On the other hand, he wept over Israel. See Matt. 2:6, 10:6, 15:24, 19:28, Mark 12:29, Luke 1:33, 1:68, 2:32, John 1:31, 1:68, 2:32. Romans 11:17 teaches that all Christians become adopted Israelis. Actually, read the whole Romans 11 chapter and explain to me why support of Israel is “weird.”

    “Are you telling me that God cares for one group of people more than others based on their blood line?” No, it’s the Bible—and Jesus Himself—telling you that. Why else would Christians need to become adopted Israelis (Rom. 11:17)? Look again at the verses I referenced above. Several of them are in more than one of the gospels, but I included only the first one. There are many more. Then go back to Genesis and read the story of Jacob. Look at all of Romans 9, especially verse 13, for the answer to many of the supposedly-rhetorical questions you raised.

    All of this is highly unfortunate, because I actually agree with many of the core thoughts the author has about areas where the church has lost Jesus’ basic teachings. I would be in complete support of a book like that. But she went so far out of her way to discard parts of the Bible and insult anyone who disagreed with her that it was nearly impossible to give her thoughts any credence.

         For me, the author has failed to achieve her stated goal of getting people to think about what Jesus actually taught. I doubt that anyone in human history has changed their minds because they were yelled at and insulted. Those who already agree with her will praise the book. That may make her feel good, but it accomplishes nothing. She has valid points, but has much to learn about the art of persuasion before anyone is likely to listen.

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