Jesus Deficit Disorder

I recently finished reading Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola.  In the introduction, they make the following claim:

e feel a massive disconnect in the church today, and we believe that the major disease of today’s church is JDD: Jesus Deficit Disorder.  The person of Jesus has become increasingly politically incorrect and is being replaced by the language of “justice,” “morality,” “values,” and “leadership principles.”  the world likes Jesus; they just don’t like the church.  But increasingly, the church likes the church, yet it doesn’t like Jesus.  (xvi)

Regardless of what you might think about their theology, what do you think about their assessment of the church; that the church suffers from Jesus Deficit Disorder?  Does this claim have some merit?

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10 Replies to “Jesus Deficit Disorder”

  1. I think it does. There is a pretty big disconnect, and I'm not entirely sure how to bridge the divide. I think it stems from the belief, on both ends, that they're working to counter each other's influence. What's sad is that if both sides got past the posturing and nonsense arguments, they'd see that they're working towards the same goals, just with different methods.

    Coincidentally, I've just started reading “They like Jesus, but not the Church”

  2. Christian,

    I have to agree. On Sunday, I heard more about Memorial Day and Confirmation that I did about Jesus. And people wonder why I hide out in my office for one of the services. By my pastor's bad sermons are another story.

    Another book I recently read was The Naked Gospel by Andrew Farley. While I disagree with Farley's assessment of the Law, I do like his catch phrase, “Jesus plus nothing.”

  3. While I have to confess a personal distaste for Leonard Sweet – just ugh! – unpacking this single blurb would take far more space than a comment on a website. The shortest thing I can say is this – no, I do not agree with it, for a variety of reasons. Not the least of them is the inclusion of the phrase “politically incorrect” – when you read a cliche, I think it's safe to say that not a whole lot of thought has gone in to what has been written.

  4. Geoffrey,

    If you don't think Jesus Deficit Disorder is the issue, what is? Obviously people aren't being fed in a lot of churches and are going elsewhere.

    I would also like to hear more of your “unpacking” of this blurb.

  5. The congregation I attend “Bible Church” is strong on Jesus. The teaching is solid but some of the people – it scares me.

    While I'm retired, I still do a fair amount of pro bono marriage counselling. Is there a Jesus deficit in the lives of the christians (small c intended) that I see? Oh baby, is there ever. It's like He is worn as an accessory to a secular lifestyle and then people wonder, “How did our marriage take such a turn?”

    Jesus said, “If you do not pick up your cross (which is always a CHOICE to LOVE) and follow Me (be like Me, love like I love) you cannot be my disciple.” He didn't say, “you won't be a very good disciple,” or “you might not be an effective disciple,” Jesus said, “You can't BE My disciple if you don't pick up your cross and follow Me, be like Me, do what I did, love as I loved.”

    Um – so – ya. There is a JDD

  6. I'm not sure there is “an issue”. Who says a church should be “this way”, instead of being whatever it is, as the Spirit gives it life? I think all the garment rending over the state of the church has more to do with declining numbers and social relevance than with anything to do with whether or not churches are preaching the Gospel. Even those churches who doctrine and practice I disagree with – fundamentalist congregations, pentecostal congregations are examples – are alive with the Spirit in ways that differ from those I attend.

    I cannot endorse the notion that there are churches out there where the Spirit is not. Any person who believes in the power of the Triune God, it would seem to me, could no more endorse “Jesus Deficit” than they could endorse human sacrifice. What we need is thought, analysis, and some honest theological reflection. We don't need proprietors of buzzwords and quick/quack fixes telling us they have all the answers.

  7. I see a rift in the Christian Church between Traditional and Contemporary type of worship. The bad part of that is that that the Contemporary movement puts negative labels on Traditional worship such as boring and irrelevant.

    It is true that tradionists are often stuck on themselves and their music is what I call “high brow, high brow”. If many cases, however, through out the country, according to much of what has been written about the Contemporary movement, contemporary supporters will literally take over the worship of any church once the traditionalist open the door for contemporary worship – even just a little. Contemporary proponents can and are ruthless and many traditional musicians have been fired within a short time of retirement, saying “We don't need you anymore”.

    In my experience with churches going from traditional to contemporary ( and it has been a lot), the older members begin to leave. As a contemporary supporter 10-15 years ago, I remember the churches with contemporary programs. Those churches are either no llonger doing the contemporary thing or these churches, once extremely active, no longer exist.

    New contemporary church movements have cropped up since and the cycle of fledgling church to vibrant to peak to boredom in the music repetoire to extinction takes over

    In short the contemporary church has lost sight of why we worship at all. Who are we worshiping? Today's emphasis in church is that in contemporary worship, it is fellowship and feelings. In Traditional churches, the emphasis is on worshipping God and the Bible.

  8. Christians don’t believe the Bible anymore. They follow their own desires not God’s. If we follow the teaching of the Bible, we would all be in the same building and worshiping the same way. Submission to Him.

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