Did Jesus Christ come into this world to serve and save all people— or just a select few? This question is at the heart of Oscar R. Nordstrom’s astute and readable Fountain of Change. Though some Christians believe that Christ’s teachings are a member’s-only game, Nordstrom argues that Jesus’s message of forgiveness and compassion is a universal idea meant for all people.
Exploring the Gospels, the author provides extensive but easy to understand exegesis, commentary, and reflections on Jesus’s public ministry, the Sermon on the Mount, prayer, the parables, and mercy, among many other topics covered. Throughout, Nordstrom contends that Jesus’s influence on Western culture is unparalleled, as seen today in “innumerable works of charity, the parochial/nonsectarian education of youth, the championing of the rights of the underprivileged… and calling all of us to a higher moral ground.”
Although Nordstrom covers many facets of the Jesus story, including the miracles, he shines most brightly in showing Jesus at his most human in his assessment of Christ’s Passion in the Gospel of John. Here, we see Jesus not as a god, but as a man who preached love and acceptance and who is put to the ultimate test. There are no miracles here, the author suggests, just a human being struggling to survive with dignity before his execution.
Nordstrom’s book is written in a straightforward manner, although occasional sentences can be awkward and convoluted (e.g. “Would that we should spend even a fraction of this amount of time perfecting the art of parenting.”). But overall, the volume is well-written, enjoyable and informative. Although much has been written about the historical Jesus over the last 30 years, many of those writings are often academic in nature and keep readers at a heady distance. Fountain of Change, however, feels more like a conversation with an intelligent friend. Including notes and an index, it offers believers and non-believers much to discuss, especially on social justice.
Also available in hardcover.