Review of Beautiful Outlaw

Courtesy+of+Greg+Olsen%0A%0A%E2%80%9CWorlds+Without+End%E2%80%9D%0A
Courtesy of Greg Olsen

“Worlds Without End”

Courtesy of Greg Olsen “Worlds Without End”

Courtesy of Greg Olsen “Worlds Without End”

Caren B. '17, Front Page Editor and Co-Editor

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If you go to an art museum and look at paintings and sculptures of Jesus, it’s all similar: a pale, ethereal Jesus who looks serious. He often seems distanced from those around him and, if he is a baby in the piece, overly mature. In Beautiful Outlaw, John Eldredge argues that this portrayal of Jesus is not true to who he really was and suggests that learning Jesus’ true personality will help Christians grow close to him.

In 17 chapters, Eldredge takes key characteristics of Jesus’ personality—like playfulness, generosity, honesty and cunning—and uses these lenses to re-read misunderstood Bible passages. For example, he discusses the moment Jesus flipped tables in the temple and explains how this action isn’t in conflict with Jesus’ goodness. It is important to note Eldredge doesn’t use difficult theological language and analogies throughout; instead, his tone and vocabulary match those of a friend you’re having coffee with.

Even without “high” language, a book full of biblical analyzing would be mentally exhausting. Knowing this, Eldredge combats this with his and others’ experiences, specifically of Jesus’ personality in their daily lives. The most memorable example is the author’s anecdote describing an argument between his two sons. They both washed windows earlier that day for chores and were caught arguing over dinner about whose side was cleaner. In response, a bird hit one of the windows.

“Nature had voted. God had voted. His timing could not have been richer. ‘Whose window is clean? Who slacked on the job?’ Thwack. Brilliant. You couldn’t have asked for a more choice reply,” Eldredge wrote.

Beautiful Outlaw isn’t all fun stories and laughter, though. Sometimes Eldredge directs himself to a Christian audience and asks them how well they know Jesus personally, or challenges them to pray that they can know Jesus as he really is. He argues that those who wrote the New Testament believed that Christians could have the same closeness with Jesus that they had and explains how religious leaders can sometimes distance others from Jesus.

With an engaging, thoughtful tone and an interesting premise, Beautiful Outlaw proves to be a fulfilling book for anyone to read—religious or not. Christians can discover more about Jesus’ personality (which is rarely addressed in religious books or movies), while those of another or no religion can learn more about Jesus as a person and not a historical figure. Eldredge’s book addresses questions and issues other Christian books rarely (if ever), address, without running into boring territory.

A book like this on religion isn’t found often, so I recommend you go check it out.

Read it if:
o You’re curious about Jesus as a person
o Other books about Christianity or Jesus weren’t what you were looking for
o There are some Bible passages you want to understand better
Don’t read it if:
o Christianity as a whole isn’t interesting to you
o You’re looking for a more intellectual book

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