Bob Fabey. NotMyJesus: Embracing Our Sacred Role in a Changing World. Author Academy Elite, 2018
Ted Grimsrud—July 31, 2020
Of books about Jesus, there is no end. Personally, though, I’m always happy to encounter new ones. We continue to need fresh ways to understand the story of Jesus and its application for our day. We know, of course, though, that many of these books are not nearly as helpful as they could be.
Bob Fabey, a pastor in Phoenix, Arizona, has given us a lively, accessible, and concise little book that provides some good encouragement and guidance for embracing Jesus’s way of acceptance and compassion toward all people. It’s a quick read, and I have a hard time imagining that any open-hearted reader would not find the book uplifting—at least a little bit.
The book’s title and front cover convey a sense of edginess that is not actually matched by the content of the book. While the writing style is lively, the main message of the book seems to be an exhortation to be kind. This is valuable, certainly. Lingering in the background is an implicit repudiation of the politicized Christian Right.
Fabey does not give us much background on his own ecclesial journey. From the acknowledgments at the end of the book, it appears that he grew up in the Christian Missionary Alliance tradition. At some point he joined with the Anglican movement that has provided a theologically conservative alternative to the Episcopalian church.
I think it’s to Fabey’s credit (and greatly expands the potential audience for the book) that he engages in no polemics either against theological liberalism or political conservatism. At the same time, there is also a theological blandness to the book and a reluctance to apply the story of Jesus to current social and political issues.
The strongest chapter in the book is the sixth and final one that focuses on love. Fabey discusses various ways to think of love that are not the same as the love that Jesus taught. He then concludes with a solid treatment of “Love of Another Kind: Agape.” This is pretty good stuff. “Agape” is “love … for people we don’t like and don’t agree with.”
Such an emphasis is always important. I’m glad Fabey published this book. If it doesn’t compare in insight or weight with, say, Shane Claiborne’s Christ for President, NotMyJesus nonetheless points us in the right direction.