The Underground Church: Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus

The Underground Church: Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus

by Robin Meyers
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The Underground Church: Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus by Robin Meyers

A new way to follow Jesus that draws on old ways of following Him

The Underground Church proposes that the faithful recapture the spirit of the early church with its emphasis on what Christians do rather than what they believe. Prominent progressive writer, speaker, and minister Robin Meyers proposes that the best way to recapture the spirit of the early Christian church is to recognize that Jesus-following was and must be again subversive in the best sense of the word because the gospel taken seriously turns the world upside down.

No matter how the church may organize itself or worship, the defining characteristic of church of the future will be its Jesus-inspired countercultural witness.

  • Debunks commonly held beliefs about the early church and offers a vision for the future rooted in the past
  • Proposes that the church of the future must leave doctrinal tribalism behind and seek a unity of mission instead
  • Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said,"Robin Meyers has spoken truth to power, and the church he loves will never be the same."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781118061596
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 02/21/2012
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 391,498
Product dimensions: 5.78(w) x 8.34(h) x 1.02(d)

About the Author

Robin Meyers is a nationally known United Church of Christ minister and peace activist. His congregation describes itself as unapologetically Christian and unapologetically liberal ( He writes for Christian Century, is an award-winning commentator for NPR, and a professor of rhetoric in the philosophy department at Oklahoma City University. He is married to Shawn Meyers, an artist, and they are the parents of three children, Blue, Chelsea, and Cass. More information can be found at

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Note to the Reader xiii

Prologue: Empty Sermons, Empty Pews 1

1 Sweet Jesus: Talking His Melancholy Madness 12

2 The Early Church That Never Was 38

3 Waking Up in Bed with Constantine 63

4 Onward Christian Soldiers? 88

5 Faith as Radically Embodied Trust 115

6 Renewing the Church Through Shared Mission 140

7 Leavening the Imperial Loaf 166

8 Jesus Followers on the No-Fly List 192

9 The Underground Church on War, Sex, Money, Family, and the Environment 219

Epilogue: Beyond Belief: The Manifesto of the Underground Church 251

Notes 257

The Author 265

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Praise for The Underground Church

"DANGER: The contents of this book are explosive and could turn the world upside down. About time!"
Bill Moyers

"When was the last time you thought of going to church as dangerous? Once we challenged the status quo; now we mostly defend it. The Underground Church tells the story of how we forgot where we came from and why we must recover our subversive roots. Read this book if you dare. Become part of the movement if you are daring."
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

"Read this book. Written by a wordsmith, it is a passionate and challenging call to churches to be liberated from the cultural captivity of convention and into the 'underground church.'"
Marcus Borg, canon theologian, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, and author, Speaking Christian

"The Underground Church invites Christians to encounter a radical Jesus, to practice a subversive way of life, and to move beyond belief to love. This is no longer merely church—rather it is a movement that many are aching to join!"
Diana Butler Bass, author, Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening

"As I read Robin Meyers's new book, I felt afresh how subversive the Christian way of life should be in relation to today's partisan ideologies and consumerist assumptions. He depicts a subversive, transformative, and hopeful identity for followers of Christ—one that I hope will be increasingly contagious."
Brian McLaren, author, speaker, activist (

"This beautifully written manifesto, grounded in the author's deep faith and faithful ministry, is manna for those of us who love what the church is called to be—but who have a lover's quarrel with the way it too often distorts the good news about love, justice, mercy, and care for 'the least of these.' May The Underground Church rise up and flower everywhere!"
Parker J. Palmer

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The Underground Church: Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dr. Robin Meyers continues his thoughtful discourse on what's wrong, missing, or misunderstood about Christianity and the Church with his latest book: The Underground Church. While Dr. Meyers lives in the reddest of red states and is often mischaracterized as a politician in preacher's clothing, he's usually the opposite - a minister with a voice so refreshing and outside the norm for this part of the country that many only know how to view him through a political lens. Just as he has in his many other novels, Dr. Meyers takes the ideas that the church is sometimes corrupt, its priorities are often misplaced, and its ideology tends to become hijacked by extremes and surprises the reader by using it as the beginning of an exploration into history and motive, interpretation and intent. So often - most often, really - those ideas are used as attacks, as weapons against modern Christianity, as talking points against politicians or people; Dr. Meyers, though, does what he always does: takes the sting out of the issues, wraps them gently in a bed of thoughtful and thorough research, and hands them to the reader in a way that can be appreciated, respected, and understood. At no point in this or any of Dr. Meyers' books does he insist that you agree with him. He doesn't belittle any reader with a different view, try to persuade a reader to change a position or create a feeling of defensiveness. Instead, he simply presents information in a way that's both informative and entertaining and asks you to consider his words and find ways to make them impactful in your own life. It's well worth your time and money to read this book as well as Dr. Meyers' many other great works.
OkayWindy More than 1 year ago
Robin Meyers' Book the Underground Church is not for the sentimental or backward looking. It is a solid review of "the Church" and how it got to be where it is. The Underground Church reveals the many hang-ups and foibles of the church (warts and all) and calls us to pay attention, to discover and recover our real calling "to BE the church" by touching base with the Church as it was called into being: "Love your neighbor as yourself, and do unto others as you would have them do to and with you. And, "Turn the other cheek; go the second mile; and forgive everyone." Some will find it shocking. A few will call this book unfaithful. As it happens this book is 100% encouraging and on-target with positive suggestions at every step of the way about recovering the original purpose and nature of the Church. It's very carefully written and interestingly laid out, and many, many portions are utterly inspiring. Stop to savor these. Mark your copy. Read it a second time. Share it with others where there is time to wade into ALL the ideas. A quick look may miss deep truths and lead to misunderstandings. by OkayWindy
TedMorgan More than 1 year ago
I am an agnostic person with a background in liberal mainline Protestantism though I have always felt agnostic more than strictly Christian. I look at religion critically and have strong ambiguous notions about it. However, I respect many religious people. I respect this work. I view religion a materialist who has read much theolgoy, however. The depth of this book and one more of the Rev. Mr. Meyers work that I read impress me. He is thoughtful, careful, passionate, and practical. He is a pastor to a progressive congregation of regular people. He is the kind of pastor I have not had in many decades. Ted Morgan, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
erab More than 1 year ago
Robin Meyers is a good writer/preacher. His suggestions for the emerging church are forward looking, even radical, but at times he goes too far, suggesting iced tea for communion. Toward the end of the book, I felt he was getting too wordy, trying to fill space.