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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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: 9781506463377
Publisher: Augsburg Fortress, Publishers
Publication date: 10/06/2020
Pages: 266
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (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

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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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