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A Christianity Worth Believing: Hope-filled, Open-armed, Alive-and-well Faith for the Left Out, Left Behind, and Let Down in us All

ISBN: 978-0-470-45534-0
256 pages
April 2009, Jossey-Bass
A Christianity Worth Believing: Hope-filled, Open-armed, Alive-and-well Faith for the Left Out, Left Behind, and Let Down in us All (0470455349) cover image


A Christianity Worth Believing offers an engaging, 'come-with-me-on-a-journey-of-exploring-the-possibilities' approach to what it means to be a follower of Jesus in our day. Written by Doug Pagitt?a leading voice in the Emergent conversation—this beautifully written book weaves together theological reflections, Christian history, and his own story of faith transformation.

Pagitt invites readers to follow him as he tells the story of his un-churched childhood, his life-altering conversion at age 16, his intense involvement in the church, and his growing sense of unease with the version of Christianity he was living. On page after page, Pagitt lays out his journey toward an authentic, passionate expression of a faith that feels alive, sustainable, and meaningful.
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Table of Contents

A Living Way: Emergent Visions Series Foreword vii

Preface xi

1 Confessions of an Adopted Son 1

2 Passion Play 11

3 From Amen to Uh-Oh 18

4 The Wild Goose Chase 28

5 When Different Was Good 37

6 It’s in the Way That You Use It 51

7 Strange Medicine 68

8 Together, Again 80

9 Up and Out 94

10 Down and In 105

11 Wonderfully Made 116

12 Same as It Ever Was 131

13 There Goes the Judge 145

14 Behind Blue Eyes 161

15 The Jew I Never Knew 171

16 You Say You Want a Revolution 183

17 I Didn’t Know Him from Adam 196

18 Heaven on Earth 213

Notes 235

Acknowledgments 239

The Author 241

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Author Information

Doug Pagitt is the pastor of Solomon's Porch, a holistic, missional Christian community in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has written a number of books, has worked in churches and for a non-profit foundation, and owns two businesses in Minneapolis. Doug is a sought-after speaker for churches, denominations, and businesses throughout the United States and around the world on issues of culture and Christianity. He can be reached at www.DougPagitt.com.

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Press Release

April 20, 2009
A CHRISTIANITY WORTH BELIEVING: Hope-Filled, Open-Armed, Alive-and-Well Faith for the Left Out, Left Behind, and Let Down in Us All
“Pagitt clearly articulates both the heart and theology of the Emergent movement.... postmodern readers struggling with current expressions of faith will see love and hope.” —Publishers Weekly
Emergent Pastor Doug Pagitt Proposes a Holistic, Healing Christianity for Alienated 21st Century Believers
            Doug Pagitt is a theologically-trained, church-planting, evangelizing, Jesus-loving Christian. But he doesn’t believe in Christianity—at least not the version that has been in vogue for 1,500 years or so. That version, with God as an all-powerful king in the sky, is more Greek Zeus than Hebrew Yahweh, for fifth-century Greco-Romans. Instead, Pagitt envisions a twenty-first century holistic expression of faith in his new book, A Christianity Worth Believing (Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint, June 2008).
            As holistic medicine seeks to create wholeness in the body, Christian faith is about healing and wholeness for spiritually broken humanity, and its integration with God’s life and work. Pagitt’s theology is informed by the Jewish understanding of God as creator, lover, redeemer, judge, and mediator, and by the Orthodox Christian view that humans are basically good, not depraved.
            Pagitt, pastor of the “multidenominational” Solomon’s Porch, an Emergent congregation in the Twin Cities, understands that the movement’s adventurous theology unnerves some Christians. But his goal is to strengthen the faith, not water it down. Like other Emergents, Pagitt believes Christianity evolves new ways of following Jesus in each generation, and that each generation is responsible for living the faith as God calls them—not just keeping the old ways on life support.
            Spurred by his wife Shelley’s positive experiences with holistic medicine, Pagitt began
thinking about how an integration model might apply to faith. The Bible actually tells the story of the integration of all things, Pagitt says. “The gospel is about repair, restoration,renewal, completion and cohesion. All the fragments of humanity are brought back together in Jesus,” he writes
            The story of Jesus is about the healing of creation, Pagitt says. “When Jesus was resurrected from the dead, life won out. The power of God’s love for humanity proved stronger than our capacity to hate one another.”
            Pagitt became a Christian at age 17 after seeing a Passion Play in “a dramatic, once and for all comversion.”  Part spiritual memoir, part theological reconstruction, the book uses his experience as an “adopted son” of Christianity and a self-described contrarian as a lens through which to view questions about God, Jesus, sin, the Bible, humanity, church, and heaven.
            His insider-outsider perspective allows him to see the contradictions and shortfalls of the faith he loves. The book is especially for alienated believers—people like himself who remain committed to the church but have doubts about contemporary Christianity.
            “It’s anything but a hard-and-fast understanding of faith that will work for all people for all time,” Pagitt says. “It’s my personal expression of a faith that feels alive, sustainable and meaningful in our day. To me, faith is all about possibility, the hope that we are made for something better than our often limited human imagination might suggest.”
            A Christianity Worth Believing is the third volume in the new Jossey-Bass series, Living the Way: Emergent Visions.
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