Freeing Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence (Paperback)

Freeing Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence By Diana Butler Bass Cover Image

Freeing Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence (Paperback)


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The award-winning author of Grateful goes beyond the culture wars to offer a refreshing take on the comprehensive, multi-faceted nature of Jesus, keeping his teachings relevant and alive in our daily lives.

How can you still be a Christian?

This is the most common question Diana Butler Bass is asked today. It is a question that many believers ponder as they wrestle with disappointment and disillusionment in their church and its leadership. But while many Christians have left their churches, they cannot leave their faith behind. 

In Freeing Jesus, Bass challenges the idea that Jesus can only be understood in static, one-dimensional ways and asks us to instead consider a life where Jesus grows with us and helps us through life’s challenges in several capacities: as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence. 

Freeing Jesus is an invitation to leave the religious wars behind and rediscover Jesus in all his many manifestations, to experience Jesus beyond the narrow confines we have built around him. It renews our hope in faith and worship at a time when we need it most.

Diana Butler Bass (Ph.D., Duke) is an award-winning author of eleven books, popular speaker, inspiring preacher, and one of America's most trusted commentators on religion and contemporary spirituality, especially where faith intersects with politics and culture.

Her bylines include The New York Times, the Washington Post,,, USA Today, Huffington Post, Christian Century, and Sojourners. She has commented in the media widely including on CBS, CNN, PBS, NPR, CBC, FOX, Sirius XM, TIME, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, and in multiple global news outlets.

Her website is and she can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She writes a twice-weekly newsletter - The Cottage - which can be found on Substack. 

"From one of our great Christian writers, a book on the heart of Christianity.  Diana Butler Bass's new book is an inviting, accessible, provocative, challenging and always inspiring look at the one whom so many follow, and whom others will enjoy coming to know more deeply: Jesus Christ." — James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage and Learning to Pray

“Diana Butler Bass is one of only a few modern Christian writers who can absolutely blow me away with both spiritual insight and beautiful writing. She is a brilliant scholar and a wonderful storyteller, charming and devout, erudite and deeply human. She speaks for me in Freeing Jesus as in all her books.” — Anne Lamott, author of Almost Everything and Help Thanks Wow

"I would not have spent nearly as much time in jail, nor enjoyed half the friendships I’ve know, if I hadn’t decided to follow the brown-skinned Palestinian Jew from Nazareth who Diana Butler Bass writes about in these pages. I’m grateful for the many ways her memoir theology resonates with my own experience of a faith that will never allow us to separate love for Jesus from work for justice in this world." — Bishop William J. Barber, II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign & author of We Are Called To Be A Movement

"With each new book, Diana Butler Bass goes more deeply into what it means to be a Christian now, in a moment when many can't summon the energy or the hope required. This may be her finest yet." — Bill McKibben, author The Comforting Whirlwind: God, Job, and the Scale of Creation

“Combining childhood memories and mature theological musings, personal story and Christian history, Gospel texts and present-day contexts, Bass invites all feeling caged by doctrine, silenced by tradition, or afraid of doubt  to find not just freedom, voice, and the glory of mystery, but also to find Jesus on their own terms and in their own lives.”  — Amy-Jill Levine, author of The Bible With and Without Jesus and The Misunderstood Jew

"As one of America's greatest living Christian thinkers, Diana Butler Bass is a perfect person to resurrect Jesus's life and lessons for a new generation. Freeing Jesus is a paradigm-shifting work on Jesus Christ that should be required reading for every Christian."  — Jonathan Merritt, contributing writer for The Atlantic and author of Learning to Speak God from Scratch

“In this illuminating work of memoir and theology, Bass offers a good deal about herself and her personal experiences of theology, humanizing what might otherwise be arcane material. Her writing is always lucid and a model of clarity. Freeing Jesus, she concludes, means finding him along the way. Thanks to her enlightened commentary, many readers will be enabled to make that discovery.” — Booklist

“I recommend Freeing Jesus to anyone looking for a deeper understanding of who Jesus is. Bass’s incredible wisdom is a breath of fresh air in a time where hope is desperately needed.” — Kirsten Powers, USA Today columnist and CNN senior political analyst

“From one of the most articulate of liberal Christian writers, a rediscovery of Jesus as a presence to transform lives and communities, and an essential message for every follower, or would be follower, of Jesus today.” — Spirituality & Practice

“Bass gives us a model of how to speak of one’s love of Jesus in a way that has both depth and integrity. Like all powerful testimonies, her story is an invitation for us to tell our own stories. By telling her story, Bass helps free us to tell our own.”
Christian Century