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By Ron Clark / Wipf & Stock / 2014
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Luke’s narrative of Jesus was presented to Christians who had already heard and read stories of Jesus and the birth of this new movement, Christianity. Jesus and the church emerged in occupied Judea, a nation that was not only oppressed, in exile. Occupied Judea was full marginalized people struggling for power and honor, when their true need was for God. Jesus, the epic hero, journeyed to earth and Jerusalem to free those on the margins of society.
This epic story lives on today in a church that also has heard the story of Jesus, but has forgotten that the friend of sinners calls Christians to reach those who are marginalized by our occupied culture. Ron Clark’s commentary, Jesus Unleashed, highlights Luke’s invitation to Christians, calling them to emerge as a movement that seeks and saves those ostracized by our communities.
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Ron Clark has written a deceptively demanding book that not only compels engagement but that anticipates changed perception and conduct. He offers a commentary on the Gospel of Luke but this is no ordinary commentary; this commentary is linked to reality on the ground and teems with connections to real people in real crunches facing real opportunities. It is of course not an accident that Clark has settled on the Gospel of Luke, for it is this Gospel that has in purview serious social transformation. The book draws us close to the Gospel call for engagement in such transformation.
—Walter Brueggemann, former William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary
In every generation, the church needs teachers who both understand scripture and live it out in ways that touch those the church has often marginalized or ignored. Ron Clark is such a person, and his latest book, Jesus Unleashed, explores the Gospel of Luke and its implications for the church’s life today. Those who have loved the Bible all of their lives, and those who are coming to it afresh, will find here the sweet aroma of the Holy Spirit wafting through the broken places of our world and reviving all of God’s children, both inside and outside traditional churches. The third evangelist’s work of introducing Jesus to all comers continues in this valuable work.
—Mark Hamilton, professor of Old Testament, Abilene Christian University
Ron Clark’s new book invites us to abandon the sanitized religion of Christianity that we have practiced for too long. In Jesus Unleashed, he shows how Luke’s Gospel presents a Christ who insists that we eschew the static, comfortable, easy forms of religion we have substituted for the cross-shaped, shalom-bringing friendship with sinners that he modeled for us.
I deeply admire Ron and Agape, the community he leads, as they embody the principles Ron highlights from his study of Luke. Jesus Unleashed presents not only solid exposition of Scripture but a practical challenge for Christ’s followers. I have great hope for the future of the church as we reach out to the marginalized people in our society today.
—Kevin Palau, president, Luis Palau Association
Ron Clark is the minister for the Agape Church of Christ in Portland, Oregon. He is an adjunct instructor at George Fox Evangelical Seminary and serves in local abuse- and trafficking-prevention agencies in Portland. He is the author of Am I Sleeping with the Enemy? and Freeing the Oppressed.