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


Diana’s most recent book is Freeing Jesus, published March 30, 2021.

Her secular friends often ask her “How can you still be a Christian?” In the book, she explains that her experience of Jesus has changed over the years, viewing him in different ways at different times. And that, though she is still a Christian, she isn’t the same kind of Christian she used to be, or that they many think she is. Freeing Jesus explores the many images of Jesus we encounter and embrace through a lifetime—and how we make theology from the text of our lives in conversation with scripture and tradition. Freeing Jesus invites us to liberate Jesus and free ourselves when it comes to the ever-compelling and yet often-elusive figure at the center of Christian faith.

Study Guide

HarperOne has prepared a Small Group Guide for Freeing Jesus.

Praise for Freeing Jesus

“In this illuminating work of memoir and theology, Bass offers a variety of answers by identifying six persons of Jesus: Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence. She addresses them chronologically in the context of her own life; thus, her explication of Jesus as friend appears when Bass was a little girl, singing “Jesus loves me / This I know.” Jesus as teacher finds her aging from Sunday School to confirmation, and so forth as Bass grows up to attend a religious college, a seminary, and, finally, Duke University, where she receives her Doctorate. Along the way, she offers a good deal about herself and her personal experiences of theology, humanizing what might otherwise be arcane material. Not to worry, however, for 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

“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, and deeply human.” —Anne Lamott

“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

“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

“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