Saturday, September 12, 2009

Myth of a Christian Religion

I expected this one to shake me up a bit and boy, did it.

The Myth of a Christian Religion is a sort of sequel to Gregory Boyd's previous book, The Myth of a Christian Nation. For those of you unfamiliar with the previous book, Boyd is a pastor in the Twin Cities. During the 2004 election, he was pressured by many people, both from outside his congregation and within, to officially endorse George W. Bush since it would be the "Christian" thing to do. Instead, Boyd preached a four week sermon series about the proper relationship between Christianity and America. The end result is that 1,000 people left his church (he retells this story in the opening pages of The Myth of a Christian Religion).

When I read Christian Nation, it shook me up and gave me a lot to think about. When I saw Christian Religion, I knew that Boyd would give me even more food for thought.

Boyd's basic thesis is that Christ came to establish a Kingdom unlike any on Earth before. This kingdom is one of love, of transformation, of forgiveness. The problem, he says, is that the followers of this kingdom have compromised themselves by buying into attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of the rest of the world. He identifies a number of idols that people wind up worshiping other than Christ and urges his readers to rid themselves of those idols and return to Christ's beautiful revolution.

In some ways, this book is simply a retread of the arguments Boyd made in Christian Nation. This is especially true of the chapters entitled "Christ and Caesar," "The Revolt Against Nationalism," and "The Revolt Against Violence." But he does touch on a number of other topics, such as individualism, greed, racism, creation care, and secularism. In essence, he holds a mirror up to modern American Christianity and points out where the warts are.

What's interesting is the fact that the last "chapter" are actually action-ideas from Boyd about how to overcome these issues. Admittedly, I skimmed this (not because I don't need the advice; it was late when I finished reading the book), but I'm excited to try some of them. "Prayer stalking" especially.

It's a convicting read. I don't know if I agree with all of Boyd's ideas, but they are certainly important for every Christian to consider. If nothing else, it will spark some new thoughts about how we live as God's Kingdom people.


Amy said...

Does sound like an interesting read! Just curious: Is he still an open theist?

John said...

Couldn't tell you for sure.

Jamison said...

I loved Myth of a Christian Nation, and I freely admit it was another one of the pieces that contributed to my leaving the Evangelical (and Protestant) worldview. It sounds like this work is a decent updating of that book (which is somewhat dated now because of all of its references to the election).

Amy: Last I heard, yes he is still an Open Theist. I don't think he'll ever change that viewpoint.