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Book Review: Freeing Jesus

Written by Diana Butler Bass, Ph.D | Reviewed by Melissa Schmidt

Who is Jesus to you and how do you know him? What words do you use to define him? Has your description of him remained the same over the years? If so, why do you think that is, and if not, how has it changed? This past Lenten sermon series about the “I Am” statements, we also heard from Covenant members shared with us who Jesus is to them during the Let’s Talk About Jesus series. Did you marvel at all of the different ways we describe Jesus?

According to award-winning author, Dr. Diana Butler Bass, different explanations of Jesus makes sense because we know Jesus through our own personal experiences. In her “memoir theology,” Freeing Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence, Dr. Bass shares her life stories, sprinkled with cites to scripture and theologians, that have helped her experience six Jesuses. “Memoir theology,” as used by Dr. Bass, is “the making of theology – understanding the nature of God – through the text of our own lives and taking seriously how we have encountered Jesus.”

Written in the middle of the pandemic, Freeing Jesus is not an autobiographical, motivational, religious nonfiction that encourages the reader to cheer up and talk about the Son of God who saved us from the gates of Hell. Rather, Freeing Jesus subtly encourages the reader to discover Jesus by reading how Dr. Bass reminisces over her own life experiences to reimagine Jesus as her friend, “learning from the teacher, thankful for the ever-healing Savior, serving the kind Lord, staying on the way, and mindful of the quotidian presence.”

I found Dr. Bass’s memoir theology a fascinating read. Because the book was organized chronologically, I was immediately immersed and reflecting over how I understood Jesus as a child, then young adult, newlywed, and now mother. I couldn’t put the book down. In some ways, it reminded me of a 21st century version of The Confessions of St. Augustine, except much easier to read!

If you are looking to deepen your relationship with Jesus, grow as a Christian, or just spend some quiet time with Jesus, consider Freeing Jesus. It “invites you into your own memory and experience where I trust Jesus can be found.”

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