Review: Prototype by Jonathan Martin

4 out of 5 Stars
Author: Jonathan Martin
Publisher: Tyndale
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The saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but I quite disagree. I nearly always judge a book by its cover. In fact, what drew me to Jonathan Martin’s Prototype was its cover art and title. Prototype: What Happens When You Discover You’re More Like Jesus Than You Think? Making Jesus central is huge and Jonathan seeks to do this. “Jesus really is the prototype for a whole new way of being human” (p. 98).

What I loved. The gospel will stalk (p. 29) you through out. Jonathan talks about Jesus and talks about him more. He talks about creation, the fall (“The world . . . turns into a George Romero film” p. 120), the cross, the resurrection, and the eschatological hope to come (pp. 156-58, 197). His passion for Jesus grabs you as you read. His primary thrust relates to understanding what Christ’s insertion into the gospel story provides for us--belovedness by God in Christ. That fundamentally changes how we live. “I am both more loved and more broken than you could possibly know” (p. 64).

Also and surprisingly much of his church experience resonates with my own church experience. I say surprisingly because I was raised an independent fundamentalists and he was raised a charismatic. Charismatics are bad, bad, bad in the world I was raised. But we shared an eschatolgical common ground. The fear inducing spectacle of the pretribulation rapture (p. 171) in my church upbringing effected my spiritual growth and he shares his experience with per-trib propaganda growing up (this wasn't your John MacArthur's dispensationalism). Also, he talks about many of his revival experiences and his depiction of evangelists fits what I’m familiar with. It’s interesting how our experiences within divergent groups of Christianity overlap.

That also brings me to my concern. Obviously as a Presbyterian I disagree with charismatic theology (i.e., speaking in tongues [angelic language], ecstatic behavior, etc). That’s obvious but I’m always glad to learn from other christians. What I kept waiting/wanting Jonathan to put out of the park (or least make explicit) is “Where does the revelation of identity come from?” (pp. 11, 31, 68). His controlling metaphor through out was of his experience riding a bike and feeling loved by God as a boy. I’ve had strong feelings of being loved by God. We’re on the same page there, but what ultimately anchors that feeling rests in Christ whose fully revealed in Scripture. The emphasis appears more subjective in Prototype.

Last, I appreciated his focus on liturgy (even where we disagre i.e., foot washing as sacrament) and the necessity of connectedness with the past Church. Jonathan says, “The desire to cut ourselves off from those who came before us is no virtue” (p. 191). An interesting side note, he says following this, “There is not such thing as cutting ourselves off and starting over. (Even the Protestant Reformation didn’t truly succeed in that)” (p. 192). I would humbly submit that he might have missed the point of the Reformation. In fact, the Reformers would give a big hearty “Amen!” to the necessity of connectedness with the past. They vehemently sought to demonstrate their theology wasn’t novel but had its root in the early fathers, the Apostles, and Jesus gospel. The point wasn’t cutting off but reforming. Hence the Reformation motto: “Always Reforming.”

I enjoyed reading Prototype. Jonathan has a knack for words and the prose goes down smooth. His metaphors pop and he has a talent for turning a phrase beautifully. Simply put: He will engage you with his words and will encourage you to love and know Jesus more.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Prototype free from Tyndale. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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