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Brand Jesus: Christianity in a Consumerist Age
by Tyler Wigg Stevenson,
Seabury Books
234 pages, $16.

Christianity in America is more or less a well-advertised and well-marketed lifestyle by now. In fact, your church may very well try to increase attendance by employing demographic digging, zip-code-to-income-level correlations, and psychographic research — precisely the same strategies secular marketing uses.

This commodification of the gospel has caught the attention of writers and publishers. Among the many books on commercialized Christianity published in the last couple of years, there is nothing less than a cornucopia of responses. Choice is good! Cha-ching! Jesus was a salesman! Cha-ching! All these choices are killing us! Cha-ching!

Tyler Wigg Stevenson's candid and reverent Brand Jesus: Christianity in a Consumerist Age makes the best argument of the crop. It is a book of common sense, humble inquiry, and painfully resonant observations about our misuses of Jesus.

What would you think if you were in a modern auditorium and heard the presenter make "The wild claim that the messiah had arrived sometime in the mid-seventies; that he had been an undocumented Filipino migrant worker who spoke about the inbreaking kingdom of God; that, while working in Guam, he had been brought in by the local ecclesiastical authorities on trumped up civil charges; that the local governor had caved to their demands and executed him for treason; and that his life and death changed everything we thought we knew about God, the world, and ourselves"?

That would be no more bizarre than what Paul said in his letter to the Romans. But the gospel isn't strange or shocking to modern Westerners. Brand Jesus argues that the fact that Jesus seems ...

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