Imitating God in Christ
Should we imitate Jesus?
Some Christians answer with a cheerful "Yes," seeing it as the sum of the Christian life. Others believe we should rely on the work of Christ alone, throwing off any hint of the moralism or "works righteousness" they associate with imitating Jesus.
Jason Hood takes us on a tour of what the Bible has to say about imitating Jesus. He draws our attention to what Paul told the Corinthians he taught "everywhere in every church." And after following the theme throughout the New Testament, he looks at it from a historical and contemporary perspective.
The result is the recovery of a biblical pattern for life—one that challenges the assumptions of those who excessively fear moralism as much as it challenges the assumptions of those who embrace it. Here is a reliable theological foundation for imitating Jesus today, a crucial first step toward the renewal of biblical discipleship.
"Jason Hood has that rare ability to combine scholarly thinking with clear and approachable writing. The footnotes are rich and the dialogue is fresh and compelling. Imitating God in Christ is a message we desperately need to hear today! The pendulum of knowing and obeying is swinging wildly across the Christian spectrum, but Hood has found the plumb line by taking seriously the Word of God. I am excited to see the fruit of this book in the kingdom of God."
"Jason Hood, in this well-written and well-crafted volume, has presented readers with a powerful and persuasive call to reconsider what it truly means for Christians to be imitators of God in Christ. Hood calls for the church to recover the important and oft-neglected scriptural teaching regarding the historical practice of imitation in order to bring about authentic Christ-centered discipleship and cross-shaped sanctification. In doing so, he winsomely points his readers toward renewal, faithfulness, Christlikeness and godliness, not as a grueling duty, but as a delightful destiny. I am hopeful for and enthusiastic about Hood's proposal and pray that it receives the wide readership and response it deserves."
"In this very readable and accessible book Jason Hood provides not only an introduction but even more, a biblical theology of imitation. Hood situates his discussion thoughtfully in the context of the broader themes of the image of God, sanctification and discipleship, while rightly calling us to rediscover the key biblical idea of following the example of Jesus and his disciples. I hope this book will continue to stimulate this important discussion."
"Jason Hood has given the Reformed and evangelical communities--and indeed all Christians--an extraordinary gift in this book on imitation as a practice that is at the heart of Christian existence. It is well researched but highly readable, theologically deep as well as spiritually uplifting, prophetic without being preachy. It seeks to overcome the unfortunate divides in certain circles between Jesus as Savior and Jesus as example, and between imitation and participation. I recommend it strongly both for its biblical theology and for its spirituality."
"In an accessible and engaging book, Hood invites us to reconsider an important biblical theme--imitation of God in Christ. Focusing on three spheres--imitation of the God of Israel, imitation of the incarnate Christ and imitation of the saints--Hood demonstrates that imitation is not limited to a handful of passages in the Gospels and Paul. To the contrary, it represents a pervasive theme in Scripture. Imitating God in Christ is not merely an exercise in biblical theology. One of the great strengths of this book is the way Hood draws attention to contemporary distortion of Scriptural teaching on imitation (e.g., a false dichotomy between Jesus as example and Jesus as savior) and offers helpful correctives."
"Radical grace cannot be reductive grace. Jason Hood reminds us that any account of the new creation in Christ must attend to the call to imitate God in Christ. Jesus was the faithful one--the true human who trusted his Father to the bitter end, who ministered in the power of the Spirit and who gave himself sacrificially for the life and flourishing of others, even his enemies--and we are called to follow him in all these ways. Jesus is not only our substitute, but he is also the shape of the human in the new creation. Imitating God in Christ addresses these issues with clarity, insight and faithfulness."
"The long lost discipline of the imitatio Christi is persuasively and poignantly recaptured here by Jason Hood. Through a panoramic survey of Scripture, Hood shows us that imitation is the highest form of adoration. He challenges Christians to truly live as Jesus, not with cheesy clichés or with theological shallowness, but in cruciformed likeness to the Lord Jesus. But beware! This book will disturb folks from the lethargy of a mediocre spirituality, and rightly so!"
Part I: What Paul Taught Everywhere
1. Idols of God
2. Imitators of God
3. Priests of God
4. Participating in the Work of God
Part II: Imitating Jesus
5. The True Human, the Gospel, and the Gospels
6. Ambassadors, Apprentices, and Agents
7. Family Resemblance and Paternity Tests
8. Resurrection and Imitation
9. The Holy Spirit
10. The Apostle of Imitation
11. The Jesus Mirrors
Part III: Imitating the Saints
12. A Community of Imitation
13. Objections, Obstacles, and Presuppositions for Imitation
Part IV: Imitation Yesterday and Today
14. Imitation for Today's Left, Right, and Center
15. A History of Imitation