Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Imaginary Jesus

Rate this book
Imaginary Jesus is a hilarious, fast-paced, not-quite-fictional story that’s unlike anything you’ve ever read before. When Matt Mikalatos realizes that his longtime buddy in the robe and sandals isn’t the real Jesus at all, but an imaginary one, he embarks on a mission to find the real thing. On his wild ride through time, space, and Portland, Oregon, he encounters hundreds of other Imaginary Jesuses determined to stand in his way (like Legalistic Jesus, Perpetually Angry Jesus, and Magic 8 Ball Jesus). But Matt won’t stop until he finds the real Jesus—and finally gets an answer to the question that’s haunted him for years. Be warned: Imaginary Jesus may bring you face-to-face with an imposter in your own life.

225 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2010

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Matt Mikalatos

33 books205 followers
Matt Mikalatos writes in a variety of genres, and also writes for film and TV. He lives in the Portland, Oregon area with his wife, three daughters, and a gigantic rabbit named Bruce.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
513 (29%)
4 stars
609 (35%)
3 stars
404 (23%)
2 stars
147 (8%)
1 star
60 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 278 reviews
Profile Image for Jason Brown (Toastx2).
325 reviews17 followers
November 30, 2021
This book was FUNNY. It is straight up Christian faux-fiction, a complex parable with all the standard moving parable parts: a moral to teach, animal characters, convoluted answers that force the reader/listener to consider various perspectives. To that point, Christian literature in general could learn a lot from how this book was presented. As an Agnostic, I read it based on the title, was sucked in after less than a page, and finished it thinking “Man. that was pretty damn good”. Imaginary Jesus, written by Matt Mikalatos, had me going.

The basis for this book can be likened a lot to Gaiman’s American Gods, in the aspect that people’s gods can have different flavors and idiosyncrasies. In American Gods, a person or group brings their gods with them, as with the Vikings crossing the Atlantic. Their gods wax or wane in power depending on the tenacity of those who believe in them. But where American Gods was tightly centered around the lost gods, Imaginary Jesus is all about just one.

NOW, when I say “just one” i mean that in the loosest sense of the phrase. Imaginary Jesus is actually about countless numbers of the man. Essentially this comedic parable is in existence to point out that Jesus is many things to many people, though there is only “One”.

The story is loosely Autobiographical, with Matt and his search for the “Real Jesus” at the core of the novel. It opens with Matt sitting around the Red and Black Cafe in Portland Oregon. While in the cafe, Matt sits reading his bible, hoping that none of the locals notice that it is not Marx, else a one sided debate will open with a definite anti-xtian vibe. Sitting across the table from him is Jesus, who goes everywhere with Matt. Jesus is one of his best friends, keeping Matt company through out his daily tasks, even helping him get out of parking tickets.

A man enters the Red and Black, and though no one else can, he sees Jesus sitting across the table from Matt. Discussions and a high speed car chase down the wrong direction of one way streets ensue. You see, the man who can also see Jesus is the Apostle Peter (Pete). Pete advises Matt that he is in the company of an impostor, an Imaginary Jesus. One that is a construct of his own mind and meets Matt’s specific desires for what the Christian God should be like. In chapter one, it just gets better, as that is all in the prologue (chapter zero).

The novel follows Matt and Pete as they discuss and search out the real Jesus, so that Matt can meet him for the first time.

There is a full cast in this book. Apostles, motorcycle angels, talking donkeys, a couple prostitutes, some Athiests, Mormon missionaries, and more. Aside from those just mentioned, Imaginary deities abound, each in varied levels of power as the populace who follows them may be weak or strong. These deities are formed together into the Secret Society of Imaginary Jesus-es, working together to continue to exist in the face of reality (no, I am not joking).

Variations include but are not limited to:

* Liberal Social Services Jesus
* Testosterone Jesus
* Perpetually Angry Jesus
* Magic 8-Ball Jesus
* Mostly Dead Jesus (some people prefer him mostly dead)
* Conservative Truth Telling Jesus
* Bargain Jesus
* Pure Reckless Fantasy Jesus
* Hippie/Peace Jesus
* King James Jesus (SCARY!)
* You-should-get-a-divorce-and-marry-a-younger-woman Jesus
* Thousands of other Jesus that an individual may have rationalized due to comfort level

All in all, this was a fantastic book. It kept me laughing through out, and even though I am not a religious person, I found it to be well thought out and presented in a fantastic manner.

xpost https://toastx2.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for LadyCalico.
1,935 reviews39 followers
March 4, 2011
This is a wonderful satire on the many ways mankind remakes God in our own image, so we become the creator of a Jesus or several Jesuses (Jesi?) who fit neatly into our wants, prejudices, and comfort zones. Our relationship with our imaginary Jesuses turns out to be not dissimilar to a narcissist's relationship with himself, non-challenging but lonely, purposeless, non-fulfilling, and non-productive (same color, culture, and denomination as us; no demands beyond what we offer, fits neatly into box, etc.) The apostle Pete enters Matt's life and challenges him to get rid of the imaginary Jesuses so he can have a true relationship with the One and Only. The quest to rid his life of the counterfeits (Testosterone Jesus, Legalist Jesus, Freedom Jesus, Perpetually Angry Jesus, Political Power Jesus, CEO Jesus, Televangelist Jesus, New Age Jesus, Emergent Jesus, Judge Jesus, etc.) in order to find genuine relationship with the genuine Christ proves way more complicated and difficult (and funny) than he ever imagined as did the sheer quantity of imaginary Jesuses diving into his path. I loved the scene where he goes into a bookstore and is swamped by the hundreds of imaginary Jesuses contained within--from not only the religion and philosophy sections, but even the children's, comic book, and cookbook sections. Follow Matt as Pete, John, Mary, Sarah the former prostitute, and Daisy the talking donkey help him recognize and denounce the many fake Jesuses in order to recognize and accept the inconvenient and challenging Jesus of the Gospels, for whom people will give up everything else in order to follow wherever He leads.
Profile Image for Fred Warren.
Author 22 books15 followers
October 25, 2010
Matt’s savoring a cup of coffee at his favorite Communist bookstore…with Jesus. He’s been enjoying Jesus’ company for a while now, and although Jesus seems to be invisible to everybody else, Matt’s found him to be a pretty regular guy and handy for heading off things like parking tickets and other minor inconveniences.

On this particular day, however, a big, hairy man barges into the coffee shop, full of righteous indignation and smelling of fish. He picks a fight with Jesus, and Matt’s tidy little world comes crashing down. The smelly guy with the solid right hook claims to be the Apostle Peter, and worse than that, he insists that Matt’s Jesus is no Jesus at all.

He’s an Imaginary Jesus, and he’s up to no good. The bogus Jesus bolts, Peter and Matt in hot pursuit. Before they know it, they’re up to their armpits in Imaginary Jesuses, and Matt’s beginning to wonder if he ever knew the genuine article at all.

Matt Mikalatos’ Imaginary Jesus is a rollicking romp through time, space, imagination, and the human heart. No sacred cow is left un-roasted as the author fires up his satirical grill with a hefty squirt of comedic lighter fluid.

I loved the way Matt made himself the protagonist of this story, the knucklehead who thinks he’s the only guy in the world who’s gotten Jesus right–so right that he can actually see Him and interact with Him on a day-to-day basis. It’s a fun, lighthearted tale. We’re treated to the quirks and foibles of life in Portland, Oregon; a side trip to the Holy Land, circa 33 A.D.; a talking donkey with an above-average ration of common sense; and a whole slew of Imaginary Jesuses–from Magic Eight-Ball Jesus (who has only fourteen possible answers–nine positive, three negative, and two indeterminate) to Testosterone Jesus (built like a weightlifter, but sweet and vulnerable on the inside), to Perpetually Angry Jesus (the name says it all). You’ll probably recognize most of them.

Sadly, Matt is us. Matt is me. His illusions are shattered over the course of his journey across time, space, and Portland, and it left me pondering how many times I’ve done the same thing, presuming that Jesus and I are in agreement, that He sees things pretty much the same way I do, and that the world would be a better place if everybody would just get on the bus with Jesus and me.

However, Jesus doesn’t promise to see things our way. He tells us, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” Being a follower of Jesus means becoming conformed to His image, not the other way around, and that’s the central message of Imaginary Jesus.

There’s another question at the heart of this story, a poignant question arising from a personal tragedy that drives Matt’s search for the real Jesus. After all the Imaginary Jesuses fall like tenpins and dissolve like smoke, leaving only the real Jesus, Matt poses his question again. He doesn’t get a precise answer, nor the answer he expected, but he does get an answer that ultimately satisfies him.

Is there a happy ending? You betcha.

In the final analysis, Imaginary Jesus is a personal struggle of faith cloaked in fiction. It’s a powerful tale, and perhaps more effective because of its humor and irreverence. It also takes a lot of guts to place your doubts, fears, and shortcomings on display in such a public forum, even in caricature. Kudos and thanks to Mr. Mikalatos for doing that and for telling us a fun, creative story along the way.

Profile Image for Angela.
12 reviews19 followers
February 13, 2011
At first glance, this book appears horrifyingly irreverent. The horrifying truth, though, is the irreverence with which we find ourselves inventing Jesus for ourselves, based on what WE need him to be.

There is Free Will Jesus, who refuses to intervene in our lives, leaving our suffering to be the product of our own choices. He requires nothing of us, but this is hardly comforting when we face loss. There is also Meticulous Jesus, who involves himself in every detail of our lives. Reveling in our sorrow (because it ultimately glorifies him), this Jesus is powerful and cold. On his journey to find the Real Jesus, Matt encounters every modern-day (and a few ancient) perceptions of Jesus. He struggles to let go of them because, even as they are insufficient for his praise, he finds them comforting since they expect nothing of him.

The first half of the book is kind of a wild, silly ride. In Chapter 19, though, you are finally introduced to the sorrow that led Matt to question the true intention of God, and his concern for our worries. Suddenly the book feels heavy, and by then you want to accompany Matt to the end of his journey so that he can finally ask the Real Jesus the most important question of all: "Why?"
Profile Image for Eric Thompson.
10 reviews4 followers
March 31, 2012
I was given this book by a mutual friend of the author. I wasn't sure what to make of it at first, but I was hooked by the second page. Imaginary Jesus is hilariously funny--one of the funniest books I've read in quite some time--and yet what begins as funny in the end is a sharp satire on America's consumer Christianity and the author's journey toward a more authentic understanding, and worship, of Christ.

I personally enjoyed the whirlwind tour of downtown Portland, including many of my own former haunts (I miss Powell's!). Portlanders will get an extra bonus through familiarity with the book's real life settings, but one need not be a resident or expat of the Rose City to appreciate Matt's spot-on portrayal of the ways we manufacture "Jesuses" to fit our own image or the perceived needs of a given situation.

Readers will find Imaginary Jesus to be easily readable, captivating, and challenging. You'll probably do as I've done, put your copy in circulation at your church.
Profile Image for Eileen.
67 reviews
February 23, 2011
I'm typically not a fan of Christian literature. The Chronicles of Narnia are an exception. The reason is that the Christian literature I've read has often proselytized too much and/or had characters react to situations unrealistically. But I knew this was Christian fiction going into it (how can you not from the title?), read some reviews, and downloaded it (for free) onto my Kindle. And I LIKED it. There were passages that made me laugh, some that made me cry, many that made me think, and more than a few that made me wish I could call my mom to discuss the book with her. So, yeah. I liked it. And I mean REALLY liked it. It gave a fresh perspective on one's search for Jesus, and I especially loved the depiction of the multiple types. I'd read this again and recommend it - and that's something I've never said about other Christian lit I've read.
Profile Image for Stanley Townsend.
328 reviews5 followers
March 28, 2011
I'm a big fan of Jesus and his teachings. I am not, however, a Christian in any organized or individual sense. Maybe that has something to do with my somewhat minority-report review of this book. From the reviews, I was expecting hilarity. I found it mildly amusing (at best) at times - boring and tedious at others. I was hoping for something thought-provoking - there was a little of that, but way too little. Came across as too much of a sales pitch to me. I was hoping for something like Christopher Moore's Lamb (which I loved and can recommend highly) but this is not in that league. I won't call it a waste of time (though I almost gave up and quit several times), but I'm glad I borrowed it through Lendle rather than paying for it.
Profile Image for Deanna Norris.
22 reviews2 followers
June 20, 2011
Overall, I like the concept of the book. Also, I think that many of the observations about Christians and their "personal Jesus" is right on target. Sadly, I even saw a few of my own. Unfortunately, I felt that the author was dragging out, what would be, a great short story into a full length book.
Profile Image for Sara Bauer.
Author 58 books362 followers
February 27, 2018
Hilarious. Was laughing from page one until the very last (yeah, with a bit of crying in the middle; there's some emotional stuff here). Although the humor is inspired, so is the theology. We all have our own versions of Jesus; it's time to meet the real one.
Profile Image for Jesse Doogan.
26 reviews27 followers
January 25, 2011
Matt Mikalatos could have written Imaginary Jesus with a nice, quiet set of bullet points. He could have used some keywords with nice alliteration, and maybe thrown in a few anecdotes to keep things interesting. He would have gotten his point across, and it still would have been a a great concept. But he didn’t.

Instead, Imaginary Jesus is sort of a semi-autobiographical science fiction pop-philosophy adventure novel. It stars Matt Mikalatos as himself, the Apostle Peter as a metaphorical spiritual guide, Peter’s pal Daisy the Donkey, and all the imaginary Jesuses you can think of.

Matt and his Imaginary Jesus get along just fine. They hang out on weekends, and Jesus understands if Matt needs to fix a parking ticket or complain about a waiter. Jesus is cool like that, you know? They have a pretty good relationship.

Until the Apostle Peter shows up.

Peter, you see, spent three years walking side by side with Jesus. He knows what Jesus looks like, sounds like, what he likes to eat. He knows how He’d respond to practically any situation. So when Peter runs in to Matt at the local vegan Communist cafe, he knows another thing: that guy in the sandals sitting across the table from Matt? That’s not Jesus.

The imaginary jesus, on being found out, takes off running.

That begins Matt’s journey through time and space to find and abolish his Imaginary Jesus.

Each of their stops (at a comic book store, in ancient Jerusalem, and at several Portland, Oregon landmarks, etc.) helps to show Matt what he’s missing about the real Jesus. He meets several members of the Secret Society of Imaginary Jesuses, including Political Jesus, Testosterone Jesus, and my favorite, Magic 8 Ball Jesus.

There are some truly moving parts of this book. I’ve never had the “in remembrance of me” part of Communion explained quite this way. It’s changed the way I think about the sacrament. When Matt explains what it was that’s kept him from following the real Jesus, his pain is real and relateable.

But I think my favorite scene is when Matt has a tubing race with three different Jesuses to determine which view of God’s providence he should take. It’s an awful lot like the some of the discussions I overheard in the dining room at Bible college: all circular arguments and snide remarks, and in the end, someone gets eaten by a bear. (It includes what I think is the funniest line in the book. I’m not going to share it because I want you to enjoy it fully and in context.)

Which brings me to this: this is the funniest Christian book I’ve ever read. I don’t think I’ve ever switched from somber reflection to make-the-rest-of-the-train-car-stare-at-me giggling so quickly.

Wait, no. My favorite bit was Motorcycle Guy. More giggling. More staring. Couldn’t help it.

There were one or two things I could have lived without, like Houdini Dog, a neighborhood dog who steals Matt’s steaks off the grill and dirties his lawn. I’m sure there’s a great metaphorical reason behind the hound, but after multiple readings/listenings, I haven’t figured it out. Faith in the unseen? A cautionary tale to convince you to curb your dog?

Imaginary Jesus doesn’t answer a lot of questions, but I don’t think it’s supposed to. Mikalatos isn’t giving you a list of what Jesus is. He’s telling you to let go of some of your precocieved notions of who Jesus is, and go to the source Himself. He wants you to spend time getting to know the real Jesus.

Read if:

You ever wanted to attend Monty Python’s Flying Sunday School.
You liked Blue Like Jazz, but all that pipe-smoking gave you a headache.
You’ve met Imaginary Jesuses (or their followers) and want to know what to do about them.

P.S. I interviewed the author on my blog here: http://short-version.com/2011/02/inte...
Profile Image for Krystl Louwagie.
1,339 reviews14 followers
March 8, 2011
I will say, this is probably my favorite religious-preaching-hidden-in-a-story novel that I've read. Maybe that's because it's not all that hidden-it's one man's personal search for the real Jesus amongst many fake/imaginary representations of Jesus that he keeps getting pulled into. It's a mix of real and imagined events that the reader it just supposed to be able to interpret what's *really* happening, and what's just thought process. All the imaginary stuff makes for a pretty entertaining read most of the time, though it does go over the top and on too long eventually. Like my sister seems to always say, this book could've used more edits.
Plus, this story includes the talking donkey from the Bible, and I've always loved the talking donkey story (it never says it's the talking donkey from the Bible story, but I doubt it's mere coincidence).

Anyways, this story can have some real insights, and extremely good/obvious visuals for the reader to understand the points being made by the ridiculous nature of some imaginary Jesus(es), so, you can read it to look deeply, or, you can read it as interesting and unique. Up to a point-like I said, it just goes on too long. One huge chase with the imaginary Jesus and all the other imaginary Jesus(es) getting in the way is enough-I didn't need the whole second one at the end of the book at all, and it greatly slowed my finishing of the book. It just goes on for too long and is too over the top.

And, what can I say-all religious books meant to bring you close to God have extremely predictable endings with no interest. Obviously, this guy is going to find "the real Jesus" and have some profound moment, but someone can't feel a real life experience/revelation like that through a book-because it's fiction to you, even if it's not to the writer-you didn't experience it yourself, it can't make you find Jesus yourself. So, this book really stops being anything of value, at least to me, at about 3/4 through-with the exception that I liked the President story near the end.
At any rate , it's wroth a read, and more valuable to me as a religious teaching tool than "The Shack" or "Joshua". Also, it does a pretty nice job or staying mostly neutral on what type of Christian views are "right". Except, if I was a Mormon, I'd be pissed.
4 reviews1 follower
March 31, 2011
In the journey of the Christian faith, there is a sense in which all followers are looking to know the "real" Jesus better. Jesus, as we believe, is the perfect representation of God, very God himself, and therefore the example to man of the Father's will.

That's all very theological, but Matt Mikalatos makes this journey after the "real" Jesus hysterical. His device is the Imaginary Jesuses (how do you make Jesus plural?) Showing up all over this story are the stereotypes that Christians use to make Jesus more manageable, more understandable, and less powerful as a result. In the first scene, Mikalatos is confronted with the fact that the Jesus in his imagination was not the real Jesus because he can't get him out of a parking ticket (not very powerful) and he's still wearing ancient robes (wouldn't Jesus change with the times?)

The ensuing race to rid the world of false concepts of Jesus proceeds to taking captive "Magic 8-ball Jesus" who only responds to questions (prayer requests) with the clarity of a Magic 8-ball. There's a race down Mt. Hood to see how Jesus actually knows the future, which involves bears and cliffs and karate kicks. There's a trip to the book store as seemingly Zombie-like Jesuses spring from the pages and chase Mikalatos, a talking donkey, a prostitute and the apostle Peter through the rest of the store. Harry Potter Jesus even flies alongside their car as they attempt an escape.

All this hilarity (I was laughing aloud so much that my wife was becoming annoyed), leads to a very serious realization. Mikalatos discovers that the Jesus that he imagines actually is himself. He hates the same things Mikalatos hates. He winks at the little sins Mikalatos continually commits (they aren't that bad, you're forgiven) and has very little power to control anything, from a parking ticket to a tragic miscarriage.

This book's cast of characters, quirky wit, quickly changing scenes, and final conclusion make it a fun, easy, and worthwhile read. And it may leave you seeing your own Imaginary Jesuses all over the place.
Profile Image for Chrissy.
104 reviews9 followers
January 3, 2012
An entertaining, yet very strange read, this book will definitely make you think about how your perceptions can cloud the identity of Jesus. If you are a believer or not, this book will prove an intriguing read. Matt, the main character in the book is hanging out with Jesus in a cafe--but he's not the real Jesus. The reader quickly realizes this as he punches the apostle "Pete" in the face and goes on the run. Matt and Pete encounter many Jesus', all crafted by Matt's imagination. These imaginary Jesus' generally take one aspect of Jesus' character to an extreme. The funniest part of the book was the society of imaginary Jesus', where hundreds of Jesus' try to convince Matt HE is the real Jesus. In the end Matt finds the real Jesus.

The message is a good one, that we all have our own ideas of who Jesus is and it may not be correct. I think everyone can relate to this, because all of us at one point or another have known someone we thought about in one way, only to find out later they were completely different. For believers, this is true of Jesus, as we grow in our relationship with Him, we learn so much more about Him that is usually not what we originally thought.

The weakness of this book is the lack of depth in the Main character. Matt is married, has a family, yet they are only mentioned. I never understood how Matt could take off for hours and days on end without a call to his wife. Its almost like the family was on paper only. Also not clear is why Pete (the apostle Peter) is roaming around people's subconscious with a talking Donkey named Daisy.

All in all, its a goofy story with some characters not very well rounded out, but the comedic aspect of the book saved it for me. I'd recommend this book mostly for my fellow Christian friends, to force oneself to think about what imposed perceptions have we placed on Jesus?
Profile Image for Pat Loughery.
297 reviews33 followers
February 18, 2011
I found this one through a list of free/cheap Kindle books. It was (and still currently is) free. That and the content makes it worth downloading..

It's a fun novel about a guy and his imaginary Jesus(es), who he discovers - with the help of a swarthy Peter and a talking donkey and some other friends - may not be the Real Jesus, but only the ones that make him feel comfortable. The story is a fun and surprisingly deep tour through all the different images of Jesus that are around today - hippie Jesus, anarchist Jesus, Mormon Jesus, New Age Jesus, emerging church Jesus, ... pick your favorite alternate Jesus and Matt runs into him.

The book is set in and around Portland, Oregon and uses some cultural landmarks. If you've been to Powell's Books or the Red and Black or Voodoo Donuts, you'll enjoy the visits.

I really enjoyed this one. It's a quick read, very fast, very fun and entertaining. The end is quite a bit more touching than I expected.

There are a few awkward spots - some characters are written way more over the top than they need to be (Men's Retreat Jesus could have been SO much better, but as it was he was pretty funny).

It's a good companion to something like Blue Like Jazz, although not nearly as profound. It would be great for questioning Christians, youth groups, open minded atheists, bored Christians. Anybody with a sense of humor about thier own belief system would get a kick out of this one.

And you can't beat the Kindle version price.
Profile Image for Heather.
459 reviews25 followers
July 7, 2010
I have to say that this book was so much fun. It’s one of those books that while it’s funny and fast read, it’s actually deep when you think about it. I got about 3/4 of the way through it and had a wow moment. During Matt’s struggle to find the real Jesus, he has invented all of these imaginary Jesuses. These Jesuses do what he wants them to do, say what he wants them to say, but when it comes right down to it, are they the real deal. I got through this book in just a couple of hours, but it was a blast to read. I laughed out loud a few times.

When Matt was wondering about Mormon Jesus, he had a lot of the same questions I did. (No Mormon bashing from me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m one of those people that while I am strong in my own faith, I am always curious about other faiths, why people believe what they do, exactly what they believe, what are the tenets of their faith. It’s just me.)

This is one that I am going to pass down to Jordan. It is definitely something that he could read and understand also, one that I think would be great for preteens/teens/adults who struggle with the “why doesn’t God talk to me” question.

I honestly don’t think I’ve read a book that was funny and had a deeper meaning like this! Kudos to Matt Mikalatos for combining the two!
Profile Image for Lesa Brackbill.
Author 1 book13 followers
February 26, 2012
I had no idea what to expect when I requested this book…but once I started it, I did not want to put it down! I’ve struggled with what to write in this review without giving details away–all I can say is READ IT! It is FANTASTIC!

“My Imaginary Jesus” is an incredibly creative work that looks at all of the different ways that we perceive/imagine Jesus to be as opposed to what the Bible actually says. The author seeks to dispel widespread misconceptions about Jesus while sharing about his own true life struggle to find the real Jesus.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll say this: what makes the book especially awesome is that the author makes each version of Jesus (i.e. “Perpetually Angry Jesus” or “Legalistic Jesus”) its own character in the book which brings them to life and forced me to look at who I think Jesus is as opposed to who He really is. You can’t deny that the characters he writes about aren’t real in some sense–I have definitely had friends or family members who have viewed Jesus in these ways.

The author presents the information in a very disarming way while leading you down a path to hunger for the REAL Jesus. I was very excited to see that he has another book…I think it will be my next purchase!

I DEFINITELY recommend this book!

I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House.
Profile Image for Kaysi.
37 reviews6 followers
May 10, 2012
This is one of THE best books I have ever read. While reading it I couldn't help but think of that quote that says, "You know you've made God in your own image when He hates all the same people you do." That's not to say that this book focuses on misconceptions of Jesus based on who we believe He loves or hates, but rather it confronts a multitude of "false gods" we as Christians have created throughout history by basically missing the point of Who Christ is and why He came to earth.

Imaginary Jesus predates Mikalatos' book Night of the Living Dead Christians, which I just finished reading a few days ago, so since I read them in reverse order you'll have to excuse me when I say that "once again" Mikalatos' writing is hilariously entertaining as well as thought-provoking. Chapters 34-39 offer some extremely poignant moments following the chaotic & humorous (yet profound) chase after one false Jesus after another, and more than once I was moved to tears in considering the REAL Christ. I have certainly tried to follow my own false Jesuses before, but this allegorical story reminded me in a moving way of how much I want to follow the true Jesus, even when it is more difficult than coming up with my own version of Him.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone & everyone.
Profile Image for Mark.
1,452 reviews26 followers
June 25, 2012
This was a unique book to read. Told from the first point of view by the author, it is touted as "a not-quite-true story." The story is fiction, and the author has quite an imagination, but by weaving a humorous and at times rather bizarre story, he tackles the issue of people having the wrong view of Jesus, and our making our own version of Jesus to follow and serve.

The book starts out with the author hanging with his own version of Jesus, Imaginary Jesus. He then goes on to meet several other Jesuses. The ones listed above in the book description and others such as King James Jesus, TV Jesus, Testoserone Jesus, and more. Though they may act in some bizarre ways and have amusing names, the author does a great job of showing how easy it is to focus on the wrong things in serving Jesus, and ultimately making our own Jesus to serve, whether it be a legalistic Savior, or one who grants our every wish.

I had two issues with the book: one use of a curse word, the "d-word", being used by none other than the Apostle Peter - and a lot of wine consumption by the same person. Other than that, I think this is an excellent book that can cause the reader to examine his own life to see which Jesus he or her is following.
Profile Image for Miriam .
2 reviews1 follower
April 17, 2011
Matt Mikalatos has written a charismatic novel called “Imaginary Jesus.” Once I began reading the book, I had a difficult time putting it down until I had finished it. The author has written a humorous story that really hit the spot. His underlying presumption is that we have all created a Jesus that we confuse with the real Jesus, one to simply meet our own needs. In the book there is this surreal reality in which all these different personalities of Jesus exist to stick themselves to us and prevent us from exploring and finding the “real” Jesus that exists in the center of all. It is quite an innovative subject that the author has expanded into an interesting story. I found the first chapter a little strange when it ended with the Jesus of the story being punched, but it just set the stage for the strangeness that continued throughout the book. There were many times when I found myself laughing at the humor of the book and the underlying real ideals that were being portrayed. I highly recommend the book both as a little entertaining, but it also brings out some good spiritual principles that we all should consider.
Profile Image for Brian.
622 reviews
April 7, 2011
4/5/11 - 5/10
I ordered Imaginary Jesus for my kindle because it was free but it sounded interesting. It sounded like a promising concept - a humorous take on physical representations of all the fake Jesus's people create - kind of like Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode, but in book form! However, the execution was not so great. I was expecting something irreverent and laugh out loud funny (from the reviews) like Lamb by Christopher Moore. This was just not that funny to me. It was more puns and some not so humorous and cheesy mad-caps. I also found it a bit preachy and I didn't totally agree with the theology. The author did try to be pretty generic in terms of religion so it did have some interesting points (we all mold Jesus into what we want him to be). I did find it a bit hypocritical at the end, that the author's final version was the "true" Jesus, but no one else's is - especially the Mormons! Overall, it was a quick and very easy read...just not funny and a bit too preachy.
Profile Image for David Ketelsen.
Author 1 book11 followers
November 25, 2011
This is a very interesting and entertaining book. It might seem an odd book for me to read since I'm not a Christian but religion does interest me, from afar, and the playful writing style of Imaginary Jesus appealed to me. I read it in the Kindle format and the free aspect also appealed to me.

While the description of the book seems playful there's a lot of serious stuff going on under the surface of this book. Mikalatos essentially sets up strawmen arguments which are embodied by numerous false Jesus' and strikes them down in whimsical ways. It's very light and readable yet at the same time philosophically meaningful.

The format of the book allows Mikalatos to explore how popular culture uses Jesus to justify choices of various types, social, personal, political, et cetera in ways that are contradictory. It's to Mikalatos' credit that he can use characters like Daisy, a talking mule, Houdini Dog, and Pete (the disciple Peter) to explore these false uses of Christianity to justify actions that are morally suspect. On the other hand, maybe I read too much into this book. :-)
Profile Image for Todd Miles.
Author 3 books132 followers
February 18, 2013
Why 5 stars? This is not a magnificent treatise on the person of Jesus Christ that will rival the work of Macleod or Bruce, yet it is a book on Christology, just written in a different genre - satire. When judged according to the standards of its own genre, it is very effective in communicating its message. And the message is important.With our postmodern sensibilities demanding that we worship a God of our own making, an avatar, that may or may not resemble the actual God of the cosmos and Lord of the Church, Matt’s book is required reading. It is a quick read and very funny. But he does alert us to a very serious problem. Unless the Jesus we are worshiping is the Son of God and the Jesus revealed on the pages of Scripture by the apostles, we are worshiping an imaginary Jesus. The Bible has a word for that: Idolatry.
Profile Image for James Maxon.
Author 7 books41 followers
November 5, 2014
A humorous journey every Christian should read. Making God after our own image is all too often a common struggle. With so many opinions and differing voices out there it is hard not to get caught up in the sensationalism, trends and niches. Matt Mikalatos amusingly exposes these and helps to paint a true picture of Christ. More than once I caught myself laughing out loud at his witty narrative, but never once did I lose sight of the ultimate message, which is to search after God’s true heart. If you have the opportunity to listen to the audio book, I highly recommend doing so. The author narrates his own story with surprising skill, and as the listener, you know you are getting a timing and oration that are spot on.
Profile Image for Pat.
604 reviews7 followers
January 22, 2012
2 people recommended this book to me and I wouldn't have taken so long to read it, had I known how funny and insightful it is. The premise is Christians have a relationship with Jesus, but is it the genuine Jesus. One of my favorite "Jesuses" people have is "Magic 8 Ball Jesus"....he gives nebulous answers like "Ask again later" or "Signs point to yes", or "Outlook not so good". He is more horoscope than person. Another favorite is "Liberal Social Services Jesus" ....."He thinks the best way to tell people about God is through service, but he never talks about God." And there are several more. Very enjoyable read with spiritual meat to think about.
Profile Image for Shelly♥.
687 reviews10 followers
April 11, 2011
Matt Mikaltos has encountered many Imaginary Jesus' in his life. They look like Jesus, they talk like Jesus, but often embrace only the "comfortable" part of Jesus' message. In this hilarious romp through Portland, OR and surrounding areas, Matt confronts his own beliefs as he searches for the real thing.

The first few chapters of this book are just laugh out loud funny. The whole story in itself, kept me laughing, until it made me cry. Really challenges you to look at your faith and the Jesus you call king.

Profile Image for Cindy.
27 reviews
April 1, 2011
Clever and really funny. Makes the point that we all create our own imaginary Jesuses instead of seeking the real one. We can't box the real Jesus in with our own beliefs and philosophies. He is so much bigger than that!
Profile Image for Nate.
172 reviews2 followers
July 19, 2021
Imaginary Jesus provides a quasi-biographical account of Mikalatos's quest for the real Jesus. Set against numerous imaginary Jesus constructs of man's own making, Matt launches out a search for the real Jesus with the Apostle 'Pete' and Daisy, the talking donkey. Filled with satire, heartache, strange events, and downright weird social commentary, Matt’s adventure is one of the most unique trips you”ll ever experience.

Imaginary Jesus is a book that defies characterization. It is not a biography or memoir in the traditional sense of those genres. It doesn't take itself too seriously, but yet, some of the struggles in this book are downright heartbreaking. Matt's quest makes for some hilarious moments where Christian subculture and the absurdity of some of systematic theology is exposed. But yet, Matt also is very vulnerable in exposing his own doubts for all to see. Consequently, what we have in this book are some extraordinarily poignant moments set against just plain weird, almost awkward moments where the book becomes incomprehensible.

I do heartily recommend this book, but it takes a while getting to its point. It is best not to take it too seriously or you may walk away offended or 'not getting it'. But overall, wading through the strange was worth the payoff at the end.

The real benefit of this book is the way in which some things in Christianity are exposed as simply counterfeit or imaginary. Rather than taking a heavy handed approach the author uses the absurd to show counterfeits. Sparing no one, the author exposes different types of Jesus as imaginary: political Jesus, social justice Jesus, relevant Jesus, free will Jesus, narrative Jesus, etc. One scene has an atheist having to prove to a ‘hip’ Jesus that the Bible preaches substitutionary atonement.

Set against the tragedy of his wife's own miscarriage, Matt has three Jesus's try to explain to him what and why the tragedy really happened. Free will Jesus, Meticulous Provident Jesus, and Libertarian Jesus all try to give systematic theological answers to the problem of pain. I won't spoil the ending but finally meeting the real Jesus as he struggles with this question is worth the wait.
Profile Image for Jayo Leavesby.
87 reviews
December 3, 2020
Fairly entertaining and a quick read. It was chock full of jokes and touched on many interpretations of scripture/jesus. There were a handful of points made in the book that did open my eyes and remind me to consider certain perspectives.

However, the narrator felt very abrasive, and while that may have been part of the point as his imagination resulted in the bastardized jesuses, it detracted from the novel’s ability to make its overall point, and his growth seemed shallow at best. Many of the points of view it mentioned were dealt with haphazardly, the novel seemed to deal more with straw men than good faith representations of other ideas. The book include many terrible jokes but then seemed to mock vegans, liberals, Mormons, and atheists for beliefs that it doesn’t appear that the novel truly understands. Can anyone know for certain the answers to life’s ultimate questions? No! But, can anyone know how an actual Mormon or atheist may answer the questions posed here? Very easily- by asking one! However the book portrays them all as lost and helpless, or secretly Christian though they do not yet know it.

Meanwhile, the central question the narrator has for his imaginary jesuses continues to go unanswered even when he meets the true Jesus. Which- of course! Mortals cannot know the reasoning of god, but at the same time this premise makes his elimination process of the imaginary jesuses just as arbitrary. In this, the narrator also assumes that his interpretation is correct, and despite his gripes about bad thing such as genocide and rape when he feels bad, seems to forget it all when his life is back on track. Because of course, for HIM, blessings must flow. For the others still suffering? Who knows, or cares. The narrator touches on this idea multiple times, briefly, and then forgets them in the conclusion. How utterly disappointing.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 278 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.