If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus

( 17 )

Overview

“[Philip Gulley’s] vision of Christianity is grounded, gripping, and filled with uncommon sense. He is building bridges instead of boundaries, and such wisdom is surely needed now.” —Richard Rohr, O.F.M, author of Everything Belongs

Quaker minister Philip Gulley, author of If Grace Is True and If God Is Love, returns with If the Church Were Christian: a challenging and thought-provoking examination of the author’s vision for today’s church… if Christians truly followed the core ...

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If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus

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Overview

“[Philip Gulley’s] vision of Christianity is grounded, gripping, and filled with uncommon sense. He is building bridges instead of boundaries, and such wisdom is surely needed now.” —Richard Rohr, O.F.M, author of Everything Belongs

Quaker minister Philip Gulley, author of If Grace Is True and If God Is Love, returns with If the Church Were Christian: a challenging and thought-provoking examination of the author’s vision for today’s church… if Christians truly followed the core values of Jesus Christ. Fans of Shane Claiborne, Rob Bell, and unChristian will find much to discuss in If the Church Were Christian, as will anyone interested in the future of this institution.

While many denominations claim to be growing, the largest group in American religious life is the disillusioned—people who have been involved in the church yet see few similarities between the church's life and the person of Jesus. In the midst of elaborate programming, professional worship teams, and political crusades, they ask, "Is this really what Jesus called us to do?"

While the church has dismissed these people as uncommitted and lacking in faith, perhaps the opposite is true. Their commitment to authentic spirituality over institutional idolatry might be the very corrective the church needs. These people respect Jesus, but question what Christianity has become.

In If the Church Were Christian, Quaker pastor and author Philip Gulley explores how the church has lost its way. This eye-opening examination of the values of Jesus reveals the extent to which the church has drifted from the teachings of the man who inspired its creation. Many Christians might be surprised to discover how little Jesus had to say about the church, and that he might never have intended to start a new religion.

But the church is here to stay, and Gulley is determined to help the church find its soul. If the church were Christian, Gulley argues, affirming our potential would be more important than condemning our brokenness. If the church were Christian, inviting questions would be valued more than supplying answers. If the church were Christian, meeting needs would be more important than maintaining institutions.

These simple statements return us to the heart of what Jesus cared about during his ministry. Gulley provides a profound picture of what the church would look like if it refocused on the real priorities of Jesus.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Gulley is most widely known for his homespun and humorous stories in his best-selling Front Porch Tales as well as the heartwarming "Harmony" series of novels. A Quaker minister, he here presents his third book on religion, deliberately and carefully laying down his beliefs, knowing that many Christians will vehemently disagree with his views on salvation, Jesus, and organized religion. He imagines what the Church would be like if Christians were more concerned about following Jesus's example than judging others or believing the right doctrine. His effortless and uncomplicated style allows for easy reading over some heavy material. The questions he has placed in a section at the end of the book are obviously meant to facilitate group discussion. VERDICT While Gulley is convincing, most traditional Christians will have a hard time getting past his admission that he no longer believes in the basic tenets of Christianity, such as the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus, or the Trinity. Christian readers accepting of Gulley's nontraditional views and interested in issues of social justice will be attracted to this book.—Holly S. Hebert, Rochester Coll. Lib., MI
Marcus Borg
“Filled with memorable, insightful and revealing stories. I recommend it.”
John Shelby Spong
“Philip Gulley separates wheat from chaff, experience from explanation and purpose from function in this book. He calls the Jesus message into a new vision - one that has both power and integrity.”
Shane Claiborne
“Gulley puts the Christ back in Christian. This manifesto is a call not just to worship Jesus, but to follow him. It asks the daring question, “What if Christians actually began to take their Christ seriously?” The answer to that question could change the world.”
Indianapolis Star
“Gulley’s newest book is thoughtful, insightful and a joy to read.”
Spirituality and Practice
“Gulley has done a fine job pinpointing the flaws of the Christian churches and suggesting transformative paths to follow.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061698767
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/2/2010
  • Pages: 212
  • Sales rank: 1,459,051
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Gulley is a Quaker minister, writer, husband, and father. He is the bestselling author of Front Porch Tales, the acclaimed Harmony series, and is coauthor of If Grace Is True and If God Is Love. Gulley lives with his wife and two sons in Indiana, and is a frequent speaker at churches, colleges, and retreat centers across the country.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

If the Church Were Christian...

1 Jesus Would Be a Model for Living Rather Than an Object of Worship 11

2 Affirming Our Potential Would Be More Important Than Condemning Our Brokenness 29

3 Reconciliation Would Be Valued over Judgment 49

4 Gracious Behavior Would Be More Important Than Right Belief 67

5 Inviting Questions Would Be Valued More Than Supplying Answers 85

6 Encouraging Personal Exploration Would Be More Important Than Communal Uniformity 103

7 Meeting Needs Would Be More Important Than Maintaining Institutions 121

8 Peace Would Be More Important Than Power 139

9 It Would Care More About Love and Less About Sex 157

10 This Life Would Be More Important Than the Afterlife 173

A Closing Word 187

Discussion Questions 193

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 20, 2010

    Not Everyone Will Agree

    I have all of Philip Gulley's books, both fiction and non-fiction, and he is a wonderful light read for the most part. In this book, he is a little more serious, but that is the nature of what he is writing about. He has some very controversial views that he expresses in the book and also talks about the difficulties he's had because of those views. There are so many wonderful points that he makes in the book, and I found myself re-thinking how I viewed my faith in God and what I thought the church was for. Unfortunately, most people will only see the two or three controversial points, and not pay any attention to the 95% of the book that could speak to them and that they could get something from. This is not an indictment of the author, but rather the narrow-mindedness of some people who refuse to listen to anyone who doesn't agree with them 100% or who might ask them to question something about their faith. Please give this book a chance because he really does a good job of boiling Christianity down to what it really should be. No, I do not agree with him on some of his views, but that doesn't mean I can't learn from him anyway.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2010

    For those who don't believe clear thinking and deep faith are mutually exclusive

    Explore what it means live according to Jesus' example.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Challenge to the Church

    Philip Gulley poses the tantalizing title question, What if the Church really were Christian? What if we believed and acted as though we really meant it?

    He then posits a number of statements of what a truly Christian Church would look like. One that is less concerned about doctrinal purity, and more concerned about following Jesus: in loving our neighbors, caring for the poor and oppressed, embodying the Golden Rule.

    Philip Gulley, true to his Quaker background, underplays the importance of traditional worship and ritual (for which I forgive him). But he rightly says that rituals for their own sake, are not helpful, unless they speak to the heart and bring the believer closer to God.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 22, 2012

    A New Concept To Think About

    This book causes you to think about the life and works of Jesus in a different way. The first point is that He was not here to start the new religion of Christianity. His lessons were to teach love and compassion for one another which is what God wants. You may not agree 100% with the words of the author but many of his points will change your thinking.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    back to the basics

    fantastic read gets to the basics of Jesus' life and teachings except it does not have all the pages that the paper version has. 100 pages shorter and several passages missing

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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