HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Jesus Style
Author: Gayle D. Erwin
Publisher: Yahshua Publishing, republished 2009
Related website: http://www.servant.org (author)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Probably intended primarily for adults
Rating: *** 3 stars (FAIR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Erwin, Gayle D. The Jesus Style (published in 1983 by Yahshua Publishing, a division of Agora Ministries, P. O. Box 219, Cathedral City, CA 92235). A free copy of this book was sent in the mail to the church where I preach. The main thesis of author Gayle D. Erwin, who has served as a minister, seminary professor, magazine editor, and traveling speaker, and now devotes his time to teaching and writing about the nature of Jesus, is that the modern church has gotten way off track and needs to get back to emphasizing the person and servant lifestyle of Jesus. First, I found some of his exegesis and explanation of certain passages of Scripture to be questionable. He uses a lot of hyperbole, which is a perfectly fine form of illustration but can be overdone. As one might imagine, the book is filled with typical evangelical denominational concepts and terminology. Also credence is given to the ideas that people can have the “prophetic word” today, that the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement is from God, and that the Holy Spirit still reveals things directly to people today.
At the same time, in spite of these specific disagreements that one might have depending on his religious background, The Jesus Style does contain a searing, but certainly deserved, indictment of modern denominationalism and its characteristics which take away from the importance of being simple followers of Jesus. There are two possible reactions to such teaching. Some might determine to shed all the creeds and catechisms of men and return to the primitive teaching of Christ and His inspired apostles as found in the New Testament. That is a perfectly desirable and appropriate aim. However, others might say, “Yeah! Preach the Man, not the plan.” That would be the wrong response. Reading through the study guide in the back of the book, I might tend to assume that Erwin favors the latter approach, though I do not know for sure.
The book is said to be “Required reading in many small groups, schools, colleges, churches.” I should think that the only “required reading” would be the inspired Scriptures, the word of God itself. Yet, I do not want to be entirely negative. Erwin offers a lot of good observations and makes many valuable suggestions. “A church administrator in a high position once expressed that he feared I was describing Jesus in terms too human. He felt that it was dangerously close to humanism. Hardly. Humanism recognizes no divine other than mankind. But Jesus was fully God, fully man. If he was fully man, then He was just like I am, a man with the same passions and temptations that I have.” True. This is why He is our example. However, the general tone of the book just did not resonate with me. It is now in its 43rd printing. Apparently, later editions than the one which I have begin with a Foreword by the late Richard C. Halverson, a Presbyterian minister and former U. S. Senate Chaplain.