Putty Putman. Live Like Jesus: Discover the Power & Impact of Your True Identity. Minneapolis: Chosen, 2017. See here to buy the book.
Putty Putman has a Ph.D. in theoretical quantum physics and is the
founding director of the School of Kingdom Ministry in Urbana,
Illinois. He also serves at a Vineyard church, which is charismatic.
This book addresses Christians who wonder if there is more to the
Christian life than what they are experiencing, or if they are even
experiencing what Christians are supposed to experience. Putman opens
the book with case-studies that effectively illustrate this predicament.
Putman then proceeds to question the conception of the Gospel that is
held by a lot of evangelical Christians: that Jesus Christ died to
procure forgiveness for sinners because, otherwise, God in God’s
holiness could not tolerate to be around them. Putman asks excellent
questions, which have also occurred to me. If God cannot tolerate to be
around sinners, then how could Jesus in the Gospels, God-incarnate,
freely associate with tax-collectors and sinners? In bringing
forgiveness, did Jesus bring anything new, since sacrifices brought
forgiveness to Israelites in the Old Testament? Do many evangelical
Christians marginalize Jesus’ resurrection in stressing that Christ’s
death atoned for people’s sins, when New Testament passages stress the
necessity of Jesus’ resurrection? Do Jesus and Paul contradict each
other in the foci of their Gospels? Putman also criticizes the tendency
of many Christians to think that their sinful flesh is still a living
reality, against which they must wage intense war.
Putman offers what he believes is an alternative picture. It includes the following elements:
—-God created Adam and Eve in God’s image, with the authority to rule
God’s creation. Adam and Eve submitted to the serpent (Satan) in
sinning, and their authority over the world was transferred to Satan.
Adam and Eve also gained a sinful human nature, which they passed on to
their children and descendants. Centuries later, Jesus proclaimed the
Kingdom of God, which was expressed through healings and exorcisms. In
dying and rising again, Jesus essentially killed the sinful flesh of
those who unite to him. Jesus also brought them righteousness, which
Putman sees as practical righteousness and a restoration of pre-Fall
human nature rather than imputed righteousness. Believers do not need
to struggle with the flesh because their sinful flesh is dead, and they
simply need to acknowledge and live in that reality, as they are
connected with Christ; for Putman, their struggle is not against the
sinful flesh but against wrong thoughts, and they need to renew their
minds. Putman also believes that believers have the authority that Adam
and Eve lost, and they demonstrate that authority by performing
miracles (through God’s power) and by working for social justice.
Financial prosperity is also part of the equation, but Putman states
that financial prosperity should lead a Christian to further God’s
—-God sought a direct, intimate relationship with Israel, but Israel
at Sinai rejected that out of fear, so God instead instituted a system
of laws and sacrifices. Israel under this Old Covenant system would
repent and offer sacrifices, then God would forgive them. Christ died
and rose, in part, to appease the demands of the law, which was actually
God’s Plan B. In doing so, Christ brought a different kind of
forgiveness-system. God has forgiven everybody and does not hold
people’s offenses against them; they need not repent to be forgiven, for
they are already forgiven. Putman stresses that this does not mean
that everyone is saved, for people still need to accept and live in
light of God’s forgiveness. While Putman believes that Jesus’ death is
what initiated God’s proactive, unconditional forgiveness, he also
thinks that Jesus demonstrated it during his ministry on earth, with the
tax-collectors and sinners and the woman of John 8 who was caught in
—-Christ actually lives inside of the believer. Believers can arrive
at the point where they think God’s thoughts, and God thinks and feels
through them. This is not unbelievable, for humans were made in God’s
image. Putman even speculates that I Corinthians 5:4-5, where Paul
seems to imply that his spirit was present with the Corinthian church,
could mean that Paul, in some sense, was omniscient, like God.
—-For Putman, embracing these truths makes the difference in one’s
spiritual life. Christians who see themselves as sinners rather than
righteous focus on beating themselves up rather than on what is
You can read the book if you are interested in Putman’s Scriptural argumentation for these positions.
A lot of “But what about?”s entered my mind as I read this book.
While Putman addressed Romans 7 in arguing that believers need not
struggle against the flesh, since their sinful flesh is dead and God has
made them internally and practically righteous, he did not interact
with I Corinthians 9:27, where Paul affirms that he disciplines his body
and makes it his slave. Putman states that each believer can have all
of the spiritual gifts, but Paul seems to imply in I Corinthians 12:29
that believers do not have all of the spiritual gifts: not everyone is a
healer, for example. If Jesus gave unconditional forgiveness, why did
he insist that God would not forgive those who did not forgive others?
Putman believes in forgiveness but not imputational righteousness, but
does not Paul promote imputational righteousness in his interpretation
of Genesis 15:6? (Putman briefly attempts to address this.) I wondered
why Jesus would have to die to appease God’s Plan B (law). Putman
tells a story in which God healed everyone in a tribal audience except
someone with extreme palsy; extreme palsy should not be a challenge for
God, though, right? And, sometimes, I felt as if I were reading an
infomercial for Putman’s ministry.
I am skeptical about some of Putman’s points, though I believe that
at least some of them, on some level, have Scriptural support. My
sinful flesh feels like a reality within me, even though Paul pronounces
the sinful flesh of believers to be dead. Like Putman, I find
conventional evangelical attempts to reconcile that to be rather
unconvincing. While I do not dismiss the occurrence of miracles, I am
skeptical that believers can perform them regularly; Putman himself
states that the miracles that he has experienced are not everyday
I am still giving this book five stars because it is a compelling
read. Putman asks many of the same questions that I have had about
evangelical conceptions of the Gospel. He highlights aspects of
Scripture that arguably are neglected, de-emphasized, or explained away
in evangelical circles. He writes in an empathetic manner, as he
understands why many Christians struggle to believe that they are truly
dead to sin or can do miracles. His section about how many people seek
approval and validation from the world resonated with me, and his
picture of how Christians can handle being cut off in traffic (or other
trials) sounded constructive. The book also had effective anecdotes:
the one about Einstein’s struggle with quantum theory comes to mind, as
was Putman’s honest acknowledgment that Einstein was not a traditional
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Cross Focused Reviews. My review is honest!
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