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The Underground Church: Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus

The Underground Church: Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus

Robin Meyers

ISBN: 978-1-118-06159-6 February 2012 Jossey-Bass 288 Pages


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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."
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

[STARRED REVIEW] Meyers (Why the Christian Right Is Wrong) offers a number of subversive ideas in his latest, reminding readers that Jesus came to feed the hungry, wage nonviolence, and generally afflict the comfortable in his day. Today, the comfortable are seated in the pews of Christian churches, worshiping idols at twilight. Like many who use a traditional, prophetic voice, Meyers has a talent for putting theology on the ground and in the midst of life. Jesus really does mean for us to feed people, as he did: hospitality is a cardinal Christian virtue. So is nonviolence, but it’s so hard that most fail at a practice that demands discipline and sacrifice. Meyers calls for other practices running counter to the prevailing imperial culture, including low or no-interest moneylending and tithing, which may startle middle-class mainline Protestant churchgoers. Going back to basics is not a new idea, but Meyers writes with energy, intelligence, and conviction, adding to the choir calling for Christianity in a new key. (Feb.) (Publishers Weekly, December 21, 2011)