REFLECT: Becoming Yourself by Mirroring the Greatest Person in History

Release Date: 
01/16/2017
Price: 
$15.99
Pages: 
256
Trim Size: 
6 x 9
ISBN: 
978-1-941337-71-4
Ebook ISBN: 
978-1-941337-72-1
Binding: 
Paperback
$12.00
Paperback
About the Author: 
Thaddeus J. Williams

Thaddeus J. Williams (Ph.D., Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam) serves as Assistant Professor of Theology at Biola University in La Mirada, CA. He has also taught literature at Saddleback College, jurisprudence at Trinity Law School, philosophy at L’Abri Fellowships in Switzerland and Holland, and ethics for Blackstone Legal Fellowship and Federalist Society in Washington, DC. His previous books include, Love, Freedom, and Evil: Does Authentic Love Require Free Will? (Brill, 2011). Thaddeus is a frequent speaker at churches and conferences and resides in Orange County, CA, with his wife and four kids.

About the Book

What’s the most important thing in the universe to you? What, more than anything else, permeates your thought life, pulls your heart strings, and propels your actions? Don’t fool yourself. That supreme something—whatever it may be for you—is shaping the person you are becoming, for better or for worse, turning you into someone radiant and full of life, or making you a dim and weightless ghost of yourself.

But what if we worshiped Jesus? Not the imaginary Jesus invented by televangelism, consumerism, fundamentalism, mysticism, or some political ism, but the actual Jesus we meet in the New Testament? How can he, unlike any other object of worship, enlarge our intellects, our emotions, our actions, our relationships, our imaginations, our whole selves? Drawing from science, literature, art, theology, history, music, philosophy, pop culture, and more, Thaddeus J. Williams paints a fresh and inspiring vision of how we become most truly ourselves by mirroring the Greatest Person in History.

Contents

    How to Meet Your Future Self

    REFLECT Overview

1. Reason: Mirroring the Profound Thinking of Jesus

2. Emote: Mirroring the Just Sentiments of Jesus

3. Flip: Mirroring the Upside-Down Action of Jesus

4. Love: Mirroring the Radical Relationality of Jesus

5. Elevate: Mirroring the Saving Grace of Jesus

6. Create: Mirroring the Artistic Genius of Jesus

7. Transform: Mirroring Jesus in All of Life

    REFLECTion Log

    Appendix A: The Secret to Becoming Irrelevant (Spend All Your Time Trying to Be Relevant)

    Appendix B: Doing Our Theology as if It Is Actually True (Because It Is)

Endorsements

“Williams has written a marvelous book that points readers toward authentic worship, faithful living, dedicated discipleship, and a love for Jesus Christ. Readers who take time to reflect on REFLECT will find a book that is brilliant, creative, wide-ranging, insightful, readable, challenging, and filled with wisdom.  It is a genuine joy to recommend this outstanding book. I encourage readers to buy two copies and give one to a friend!” 

—David S. Dockery, President, Trinity International University; coauthor of The Great Tradition of Christian Thinking 

“Want to become more Christlike? Worship Jesus Christ. Why? Because we become what we worship. This logic fuels REFLECT, a winsomely written and thoroughly contemporary discipleship manual. At a time when our culture’s authenticity-obsession is leading individuals down find yourself dead-end paths, Williams rightly focuses our attention on Jesus, the source of everything truly authentic. This insightful and timely book reminds readers that becoming Christ-like is not about looking inside yourself or leaning on legalistic rules; rather, it’s about getting to know, learning to love and bowing the knee to the glorious Christ.”

—Brett McCracken, author of Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide and Gray Matters

“With trademark brilliance and wit, Thaddeus Williams turns his eye to the question of Jesus’ identity, and its implications for, well, everyone.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                 —Ross Anderson, The Atlantic

“Williams is a renaissance man who loves Jesus and loves life. His wide-ranging passions are on full display in this exceptional new book, written with theological clarity, infectious curiosity, and an artist’s touch. Featuring insights from Dorothy Sayers, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, David Foster Wallace, and many more, REFLECT paints a vivid picture of what it means to worship Jesus and why it matters. The book is a brilliant resource for twenty-first century people seeking to live meaningfully in a world where meaning is harder and harder to find.”

—Barry H. Corey, President, Biola University; author of Love Kindness

“Many works can raise the right questions; very few provide the right answers. And, even fewer do so in a way that provokes application and change. Williams practically grapples with and answers the defining issue facing the church and culture today: What is man? His answer is directional, yet not dogmatic; informed, yet not pedantic; fresh, yet not trendy; faithful, yet not frothy; joyful, yet not juvenile. Williams understands and communicates how our lives can reflect (and must reflect) Christ in the entirety of his integrated multi-faceted humanity. Far from being yet another generic collection of ‘spiritual disciplines,’ or pious admonitions, this volume basks in the glory of Christ, and this propels us (with Williams’ thoughtful nudging) to be transformed so that we become authentic transformers unto the Good, Beautiful, and True. This volume is at once sound, practical, doxological, loving, and encouraging, and shall be a prime resource for my university and graduate students.”

—Jeffery J. Ventrella, Senior Counsel, Senior Vice-President, Training, Alliance Defending Freedom; author of The Cathedral Builder: Pursuing Cultural Beauty

“Williams convincingly and winsomely destroys the notion that a person can be non-religious, observing from historical testimony and everyday observation that everyone nurtures a god-concept, an all-important object of devotion that shapes all of life in significant ways. Not only are all people religious, all of life is religious, so it is crucial in our own lives to imitate the habits and practices of Jesus Christ. The book is beautifully written and gracious; the author knows how to write a page-turner with a father’s warmth and scholar’s insight. Along the way, he provides a more robust picture of Jesus, the God-man, than will have occurred to most of us. Yet Christ is revealed as much more than mere moral exemplar. Williams knows, and presents to us, the Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  It is my honor and delight to commend this unique and original work.”

—Joseph Boot, Founder of the Ezra Institute for Contemporary Christianity in Canada; Director of the Wilberforce Academy, London UK; Senior Pastor, Westminster Chapel, Toronto

“Williams speaks of a radical change in his life, how he ‘slowly come to appreciate the wonderfully diverse ways in which creativity is part and parcel of what it means to bear the Creator’s image . . . and to multiply the net beauty in the universe.’ This book is a wonderfully diverse and creative example of how to imitate Christ, bearing the Creator’s image, and thus to add to the beauty of the universe.”

—Peter Jones, Executive Director, truthXchange; Scholar in Residence, Westminster Seminary, California; author of Capturing the Pagan Mind

REFLECT is a fascinating book of vignettes on values and key character traits. You will bounce back and forth hearing the many voices of people from an array of life’s vocations who have reflected on life with care—and you will learn much.”

—Darrell L. Bock, Executive Director for Cultural Engagement, Howard G. Hendricks Center for Christian Leadership and Cultural Engagement; Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary; author of Jesus, the God-Man 

“When I picked up Williams’s REFLECT, I had no idea what an astonishing, absolutely unique treasure I was about to read. I know Williams, and he (as flawed as we all are) practices what he preaches. The motivating problem is something that our vastly ignorant population simply does not get—that we all worship something and we become like what we worship. This is the scary and sober truth, and if people got ahold of this, they would think much more seriously about their ultimate source of transcendence and meaning. And Williams rightly identifies Jesus and the religion he founded as the only game in town. And he proves it by taking seriously the question, what if we really intended to become like Jesus in several key areas of his life and our lives. Williams draws on an impressive combination of scholarly works and popular culture, and he seems comfortable in both worlds. What results is a completely unique book that must receive a wide circulation. So, please, get a copy, and after you have read it, buy copies for your friends and get into groups to discuss the ideas contained therein.  It will definitely be worth your time.”

—J. P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology; author of Love Your God with All Your Mind

“Williams connects the dots between one of the church’s most neglected practices—the imitation of Christ—and one of our generation’s deepest questions—personal identity and meaning. REFLECT is a creative, winsome, and entertaining book that will help all different kinds of readers understand what it means to follow and worship Jesus in our current cultural moment.”

 —Gavin Ortlund, Associate Pastor, Sierra Madre Congregational Church (CA), and writer for The Gospel Coalition

“No one can fathom the depths of Jesus’ truth, wisdom, or virtue. Yet this book brings profound features of Jesus’ character to bear on our existence. Those who want to live life the Jesus-way should read this rewarding work by Williams.”

—Douglas Groothuis, Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary; author of Philosophy in Seven Sentences

“This fine book on worshiping and imitating Christ is written with great verve and theologically informed insights drawn from art, film, literature, philosophy, science, and much more. It is a creative, clarifying resource that helps show what loving the Lord with heart, soul, mind, and strength looks like in today’s world.”

—Paul Copan, Professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University; author of A Little Book for New Philosophers

 “Williams understands that the greatest problem of humanity is a worship problem. We worship the wrong things and neglect or reject true worship of the one true God. With keen insight into human nature, philosophical precision, theological clarity, creativity, and humor, Williams leads the reader on an enjoyable journey of fruitful intellectual exploration. Atheists, skeptics, and believers alike, will benefit from this thought-provoking book.” 

—Erik Thoennes, Chair of Undergraduate Theology, Biola University; Pastor at Grace EV Free of La Mirada, CA; author of Life’s Biggest Questions 

“This is a remarkable addition to ‘imitation of Christ’ literature. Williams wants us to think, feel, act, love, elevate, create, and transform like Jesus. Behold! REFLECT is seriously thoughtful, emotive, active, loving, engaging, creative, and transforming. It is itself a model of his own thesis. It is on the top of my list of discipleship books, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.”

—Brian Mattson, Senior Scholar of Public Theology, Center for Cultural Leadership; author of Restored to Our Destiny

“Williams has written a brilliant book that deftly weaves together theology, philosophy, history, science, art, literature and pop culture all with equal ease. Imagine Radiohead meets Jonathan Edwards! And he does all this while demonstrating that following Jesus Christ is not only of supreme worth but brings supreme satisfaction to the hungry soul. This book is both an apologetic for the Christian faith and a faithful guide to the all-encompassing enterprise of being a Christ follower. Read and REFLECT!”

—Scott Christensen, Pastor, Summit Lake Community Church (CO)

“The term ‘Christian’ has come to connote a particular historical or theological persuasion that sometimes crowd out the original meaning, which Williams recovers and reanimates in this thoughtful, practical book. To be a Christian is not merely a static state but also a lifelong process of imitating Jesus. In this book, Williams shows us, quite simply, what it means to be—and to keep becoming—a Christian.”

—P. Andrew Sandlin, Founder and President, Center for Cultural Leadership

 “Williams has written a book of which I can give the highest praise possible: it made me want to be more Christ-like. In describing discipleship that is both thoughtful and emotional, rationale and aesthetic, Williams encourages a walk with God that will both bring joy to those following Christ and bring others to see the source of that joy. REFLECT provides an engaging and contemporary message for an authentic life lived for Christ, rooted in a long tradition of Christian reflection from Calvin to Bono. Readers will be richly rewarded by reading this unique perspective on reflecting Christ in all parts of life.” 

—Myron S. Steeves, Dean, Trinity Law School, Trinity International University

“Christians all agree that living like Christ is important, but it’s hard to do when you don’t know what that really means. Williams gives readers a comprehensive and captivating understanding of this call, one that engages every aspect of your being in the task of following Jesus.”

—Aaron Armstrong, Brand Manager for The Gospel Project, LifeWay Resources; author of Awaiting a Savior

“Few people today, inside or outside the church, know who Jesus really is and what he actually taught. Williams’s new book enlightens that darkness. Williams proves himself a worthy successor to the late Dallas Willard in emphasizing Christ’s superior intelligence, his right emotion, his loyalty to the Scriptures, his servant leadership as the best form of power, and the significance of his death and resurrection. This is a book we’ve all needed for a long time!” 

—Howard Ahmanson, President, Fieldstead and Company

“Williams lays out a masterful picture of Jesus that, like a prism, shows us Christ in dazzling Technicolor and what human life was always meant to be. I particularly appreciate that the author is refreshingly practical as he veers from the mere theoretical into the realm of knowing and mirroring Jesus in everyday life.  This book offers us a banquet of sumptuous answers to those mystifying questions about the elusive meaning of life where those starving for clarity of purpose can gorge to their satisfaction.  I recommend everyone to read this book. Those who do will forever be transformed.”

          —Tyler Geffeney, International Director, Ratio Christi

REFLECT is both an insightful and enjoyable book. Williams has the rare ability of writing in a winsome and enjoyable fashion, but also with depth and clarity. I get to teach and speak to many students. REFLECT is going to be one of the top books I recommend for those who want to become the person God has designed them to be.”

—Sean McDowell, Assistant Professor, Biola University; author of A New Kind of Apologist

                                                                                                                                               
“Williams is one of the most exciting theological voices writing today. In this book his prodigious command of multiple disciplines, from literature to art to philosophy to law to theology, is on full display, all in service of equipping us to REFLECT Jesus in our everyday lives. For those seeking a resource to become better disciples themselves or disciple others, your search is over.”

—Gabriel N. E.  Fluhrer, Minister of Discipleship, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson (MS); author of Solid Ground

REFLECT is a book about the big questions in life—where we find our identity, our meaning, our purpose. While most people search within to find the answers, Williams shows us that the answers we seek can only be found in the One who transcends us, created us, and came for us. All who want to grow in their understanding of how Jesus’ life and character bear weight on our very own will enjoy digging into this very helpful and timely book.” 

—Chris Poblete, Pastor and Church Planter, King’s Cross Church, Rancho Santa Margarita (CA); author of The Two Fears

“C. S. Lewis said that ‘walking and talking are two very great pleasures.’ I have walked and talked with Williams through the years. I have a sneaking suspicion that REFLECT will become just that for our meaning-seeking generation, a well-worn companion to walk and talk with through life. Williams’s wide-ranging, integrated, and melodic treatment of everything from pop culture and the arts to philosophy, theology, and biblical exegesis will empower us to become more fully ourselves by beholding the beauty of Jesus. I invite you to grab a copy and a tasty beverage with your closest friends, pull up a chair and talk awhile.”

—Aron McKay, Pastor and Church Planter, The Table, San Clemente (CA)

REFLECT is a rollicking, sweeping survey of humanity’s quest for meaning, featuring an eclectic collection of historic luminaries from philosophy, science, religion, and pop culture. Managing this troupe is literary ringmaster Thaddeus Williams, who’s as comfortable quoting Bono as he is invoking apostle Paul. With equal parts logic, emotion, and humor, Williams directs his chorus—and in turn the reader—to reflect The Greatest Person in History. It’s a fresh, challenging, and ultimately rewarding book—unlike any other I have ever read.”

—Stan Jantz, Executive Director, Evangelical Christian Publishers Association; coauthor of GodQuest

“The Christian life is about Christ. Williams paints an attractive vision which understands that following him ought to be holistic and driven by love. Eminently readable, creative, and expansive in scope, this book is to be well recommended in introducing important themes in an accessible and integral way.” 

—Gray Sutanto, University of Edinburgh

 

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