Just Jesus by Walter Wink with Steven Berry
Many people know the name Walter Wink through his series of books on the Powers that Be, but many people don’t recognize the extreme nature of Wink’s life. This new book, Just Jesus, is a memoir of Wink’s life through his time at Union Seminary, his nonviolent protests, and his views on practicing the faith of the fathers in the midst of horrible evil. You get many pictures of Wink as you work through this memoir; social reformer, radical theologian, and constant stirrer of the pot. You might not agree with everything in this book, in fact you won’t, but you will appreciate the life of a man dedicated to many worthwhile causes.
After relaying the story of how Walter had decided with his friend to burn up some Christmas trees, the fire marshal came and blamed it all on Walt’s black friend. Wink writes, “That day I discovered something of what racism is.” (36) The sting of knowing that someone was wronged when you were to blame, and that the reason that the blame was leveled on them was because of their skin color was an outrage to Walter. Later on in life, Walter with some other clergy went down to Selma to help in the March with Martin Luther King, Jr. It seems that at almost every point Walt was seeking out places where injustices were taking place and putting himself in the middle of them. At the end of some of the entries in this memoir, Walter writes out a short prayer that captures the essence of the preceding lines very well. I was amazed at how beautiful these short prayers were by Walter.
We also get a sense of Walter’s influences in this book, from Jung to John Cobb Jr., many notable radical theologians were on the list. It seemed as if Walter’s whole life was a distancing himself from his stringent, more conservative upbringing. Yet, we see Walter dipping into panentheism and rejecting the more traditional models of Christianity. It was at this point that I think Walter strayed too far from the foundations of the faith.
This book gave us a good glimpse into makes Wink tick, what he is passionate about, and what he is willing to die for. Overall, I enjoyed this book even though I find some of his views on the faith damaging and downright false.
Thanks to Image Books and Waterbrook/Multnomah Blogging for Books program for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.