A Divine Genius – Erwin McManus Wants to Reclaim the Humanity of Jesus

By: Laura Bennett

When we think of genius, we tend to think of exceptional humans gifted in the arenas of science, mathematics and the arts.

Names like DaVinci, Einstein, Marie Curie, and more recently Elon Musk and Oprah Winfrey get thrown about as hallmarks of human potential, standing apart from their contemporaries.

Rarely – in fact if ever – does Jesus make the cut.

Erwin McManus is a futurist, filmmaker, fashion designer and lead pastor of the LA-based church community, Mosaic.

He’s spent a lifetime investigating genius, and said, “In all the decades I’ve spent studying genius, I’ve never seen any list that listed Jesus.”

“I started wondering to myself,” Erwin said, “if you didn’t believe in Jesus being God, if you removed all the divine, all the miraculous, all the magical part of the Bible – and only saw Jesus from the historical aspect – would Jesus qualify as a historic genius?

“Is He off of every list because He isn’t a genius?” Erwin said, “or is he off of every list because we so emphasise His divinity that we’ve almost overlooked the extraordinary expression of His humanity?”

The moment Erwin suggested the idea of Jesus being a genius, some of his social media followers were quick to decry the suggestion that He was anything other than God.

“This is a part of the dilemma,” Erwin said, “that you somehow think that identifying Jesus as a genius diminishes His divinity.

“But if I said, ‘Jesus was compassionate’, you wouldn’t say, ‘No Jesus was not compassionate, He was God’.

“Somehow we see genius and divinity as in conflict with each other.”

What Erwin believes, is that genius is a divine trait few of us tap into – but that all of us possess.

“Genius is one of those concepts that is very hard to define, but it’s easy to identify,” Erwin said.

“You know when you see it, because it really is the phenomenon of human capacity that translates something that we thought was impossible into becoming possible.”

“You know when you see it, because it really is the phenomenon of human capacity that translates something that we thought was impossible into becoming possible.”

“A huge part of what motivates me,” Erwin said, “is a conviction that there is genius inside of every human being.

“I don’t want to say that everyone’s a genius, but I do want to say that there’s genius in everyone.”

In researching for The Genius of Jesus Erwin came across a NASA study that found 98% of children tested at genius levels of creativity before they were five, 12% by age 15, and then, as adults, only 2% of people were considered creative geniuses.

In other words, we’re all born highly attuned to our God-given genius but, according to an Inc.com reflection on the study, “as we learn to excel at convergent thinking – or the ability to focus and hone our thoughts – we squash our instinct for divergent, or generative, thought”.

Erwin’s goal is help people reclaim that genius – through the transformational example of Jesus.

“The most important aspect of genius is human relationships [and] human engagement,” Erwin said.

“The most significant aspect to me of [The Genius of Jesus] is how Jesus helps us reclaim our humanity.

“Because the worst decisions we’ll make in our lives will not cost us money, they’ll cost us people.”

Observing the way Jesus interacted with His followers, His foes and the culture He was born into, Erwin said Jesus’ empathy, His grace and His healthy demonstration of power are all aspects of his genius that reveal God’s design for healthy humanity.

“It would be inspiring to study Jesus’ genius even if we knew it wasn’t going to have any effect on us,” Erwin said.

“But the fact that Jesus genius’ is the singular genius in all of human history that is transferrable, it makes it more than inspirational – it makes it transformational.

“Jesus says, ‘Give me your life, and I will make you fully human.

“ ‘I will make you the perfect reflection of the image of God within flesh and blood.

“ ‘I will teach you how to live a life of true compassion, of humility, of kindness, of forgiveness, of graciousness and I will give you a power that goes beyond ‘overpowering’, but instead empowers and sets people free.”

“If we can begin to reclaim the genius of human relationships,” Erwin said, “[the genius] of empathy, of knowing how to properly use power, of knowing how to engage one another in a healthy way when it comes to truth, it will actually change our lives.”

The Genius of Jesus is out now.

Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

About the Author: Laura is a media professional, broadcaster and writer from Sydney, Australia.

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