Review: Imaginary Jesus – Matt Mikalatos

by MW Cook

Jesus and I sometimes grab lunch at the Red and Black Cafe on Twelfth and Oak.

I found this one free on the Kindle site. I love free books, don’t you? It’s about a man who finds out that the Jesus he’s been hanging out with since childhood is not actually the real Jesus, but one of many imaginary Jesuses. He then embarks on a quest with the Apostle Peter, a talking donkey and an ex-hooker to find the real Jesus. It’s full of great humor, wild wit and a lot of great ‘aha’ moments. All in all, it was a good read. Entertaining and thoughtful all at once. It keeps you kinda guessing, too. Because every once in a while you’ll encounter a Jesus who you think is the real one, only to find out that he was an imaginary one, too.

I really have only one negative thing to say about it. The book (accidentally, I think) enforces the popular idea that if a part of your understanding of Jesus is off, you’re following the ‘wrong’ Jesus.

The argument usually goes like this. Someone says, ‘Hey, do you know Frank?’
‘Oh yeah, I know Frank. He’s an accountant, right?’
‘No, he’s a banker. You must be talking about a different Frank.’
And the concept gets applied to Jesus. So anyone with a wrong (or different) understanding of anything from hell to the atonement to election to depravity is said to believe in the wrong Jesus.

But, I think, if we were talking about Frank, the conversation would be more like this:
‘Hey, do you know Frank?’
‘Oh yeah, I know Frank. He’s an accountant, right?’
‘No, he’s a banker. He works at First National.’
‘Really? Are you sure?’
‘Well, I think so. Let’s find out for certain.’

Just because I think he’s an accountant and you think he’s a banker doesn’t mean we’re talking about different people. We just have different ideas about him. Heck, for all we know, maybe Frank is an IRS agent. But I’m pretty sure we are both talking about the same guy.

But Imaginary Jesus is certainly worth a read. It’s witty, fun and playful. Check it out.

Quotes:

“But do you know what it looks like when Jesus walks up to someone and says, ‘Follow me’? When I first started to follow him, I didn’t know he was God. I didn’t know he was the only way to God. I didn’t pray to say that I believed it with all my heart. None of that.”

The first century smelled like what Christians call a “men’s retreat.” This is when men leave their wives and children for several days, go to the mountains, and yell at each other, “Stop neglecting your wife and children!”

“So you’re saying that if I was, for instance, your disciple-”
“You wouldn’t need to find a bathroom,” the donkey said, “because you’re walking on a perfectly fine road.”

Pete said, “Even without the promise of eternal life, I gave up everything to follow him. I didn’t know him well. But I knew him well enough.”

How do you deal with a God who breaks all the rules that your confident, well-meaning friends have told you he will follow?

“You think you’re got to have all the answers. Why can’t there be mysteries once in a while? It’s okay not to know the answer.”