By Benjamin H. Liles
The first thing I want to say is I didn't get this book until recently. Yet, upon reading it I was simply hooked. What would our world look like without Christianity? Up until the age of enlightenment, which started in the early 1800s to late 1800s, Christianity flourished quite well. I already knew this, but to see that Jeremiah Johnson put that within the pages of this book made me realize I wasn't alone in thinking Christianity started taking a backseat approach to our lives.
Jeremiah Johnson gives this view of what the world looked like in ancient times, providing source after source. And as he comes along with the book, he shows how those views crept back into society over the past three hundred years. To simply name what life without Christ looks like, here are some groups of people who are marginalized, both in antiquity and eve in these days--women, children (mostly female), the disabled or deformed, the elderly, and those of other cultures. It's not safe anywhere in this world. On one hand it's hard to be a Christian outside of the United States.
At the same time where Communism has fallen, or even been pushed aside as people see the system not working anymore, Christianity has been coming back into those countries, and guess what? People are flocking to Christ! So, is it true that we have no need for Jesus Christ or God these days? I don't believe so, and in Jeremiah's book here he argues that the love true followers of Christ show is what true Christianity looks like.
I have to give him credit where credit is due here. He put in his time and effort to nail each point down and to make things clear for everyone. He employs a good and direct use of explaining things, from how people regarded the gods of antiquity, how they treated one another, and how both of these have crept back into society under the guise of "modern thinking." The funny thing is it's not exactly modern thinking, it's still the same thinking of the ancients. This thinking perverts the message and gospel of Christ that says, "There is no God. There is no hope. Abandon hope and faith here." Sorry, I refuse to do so.
I believe Johnson has done a great and credible job, in the name of Jesus Christ, in showing how faith has helped society to be made right with God. The further we complicate things by rationalizing away that God cannot help anyone, the more we show God's work as being accurate: "'A prophet is without honor only in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own household,' [Jesus tells us]. So He could not perform any miracles there, except to lay His hands on a few of the sick and heal them. And amazed at their unbelief, He went around teaching from village to village" (Mark 6:4-6, Berean Study).
Without faith we cannot expect to have the blessing of God on our lives, much less expect to have God heal us, to be evident within and flowing out of the core of who we are. It's like Jesus told those who believed they were well, "It is not those who are well who need a physician; but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:31-32, New American Standard).
Truly without the power of God in our lives, we have no hope or even experience the righteousness of God, to even be ours, to give us a hope and a future. And Jesus is that hope. It is why Jesus said, as well, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may live it abundantly" (John 10:10, New King James).
In ending this I should say that Jeremiah Johnson's work on this book, Unimaginable, is quite exceptional. His faith can be seen in the amount of work and research he has done and poured over. It's almost as if he's pouring himself out--as a sacrifice--showing us the love of Christ, and why Christianity, even Jesus Christ, does so much more good for everyone. It is my hope and prayer that others see the need for Christ in their lives, and to live life with Jesus Christ, not without Him.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in the hopes of honest feedback.