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Book Review: Jesus Stories – Traveling Toward Testimony by H. Stephen Shoemaker
by Ken Meyers, faith formation specialist
Finally. Finally a book that theologically and intellectually forms the functional foundation that the church is the “steward of the Jesus story” (p. ix). What’s more, the book is highly readable for lay and clergy folks.
I am speaking of Jesus Stories: Traveling Toward Testimony by noted author, scholar and pastor, H. Stephen Shoemaker.
In Thomas Groome’s book, Christian Religious Education: Sharing Our Story and Vision, he writes that faith formation comes to us best when we find the intersection between God’s Story and our own story. This pilgrimage to such an intersection can be brilliantly enriched with Shoemaker’s book. It is a gift to the church and those seriously searching for a Jesus life.
Shoemaker distinguishes between a search for the historical Jesus and the “more-than-historical Jesus” or between the “figure who lived in first-century CE Galilee” and the “one who is alive to us in the Spirit of God” (p.1). This approach promotes one’s personal faith formation story while fully engaging the Jesus story.
The readability of Shoemaker’s book is remarkable. With his vast scholarship, he provides a synthesis with the Gospels at many levels for a broad and thoughtful resource.
Most of all, Steve’s pastoral approach invites the reader into serious connections for faith responses. It guides the pilgrim of faith toward future practice to engage in authentic lives and model justice.
Every congregational faith formation minister will do well to include this extraordinary book into the overall curriculum. There is power in the Jesus story when it intersects with our own stories. Go forth and find that intersection.