The summer is quickly coming to a close, but before it does I'd like to recommend to you the best book I've read in recent months: Stephen Nichols' Jesus, Made in America.
Nichols deftly takes us on a 400 year tour through American history, revealing how the general populous thought of, responded to and 'used' Jesus at various key points along the way. It is a tragic story which begins with a God-glorifying, biblically grounded view of Christ by the New England Puritans of the 17th century but ends in our own day with the wholesale highjacking of Jesus by Christian retailers, political activists, evangelistic film makers and the Christian music industry.
Using his skills as a professional historian and keen cultural analyist, Nichols conclusively topples, among others, the popular notions that our nation was founded upon the Christ of the Bible, that Veggie Tales presents an accurate Christology or that wearing Christian clothing and jewelry (or promoting Christian music or movies for that matter) makes for a church where Jesus is truly understood and worshipped and the true gospel is extended compelling the world to follow Him.
The upshot of the Jesus subculture we've made as American evangelicals is a trivialized Christ, a manipulated God and the creation of a Savior who itches us where we scratch rather than the God of the Bible Who brings us to our knees in repentance, hope and worship. If the American Christian ghetto has ever left you mesmerized or cynical due to its consumer-driven hypocrisy and obsession with 'cutting edge Christian culture,' then this book could prove a healing agent of hope in your life. On the other hand, if you happen to be one of the many Christians who swims so deeply in our evangelical subculture that you assume all its trappings are God-honoring and good, then perhaps you need Nichols' book most of all.
Will the real Jesus (not the 'American Jesus') please stand up! This book carefully, graciously and biblically helps us find Him in the crowd.