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If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus [Kindle Edition]

Philip Gulley
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“[Philip Gulley’s] vision of Christianity is grounded, gripping, and filled with uncommon sense. He is building bridges instead of boundaries, and such wisdom is surely needed now.” —Richard Rohr, O.F.M, author of Everything Belongs

Quaker minister Philip Gulley, author of If Grace Is True and If God Is Love, returns with If the Church Were Christian: a challenging and thought-provoking examination of the author’s vision for today’s church… if Christians truly followed the core values of Jesus Christ. Fans of Shane Claiborne, Rob Bell, and unChristian will find much to discuss in If the Church Were Christian, as will anyone interested in the future of this institution.

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Editorial Reviews


“Philip Gulley separates wheat from chaff, experience from explanation and purpose from function in this book. He calls the Jesus message into a new vision - one that has both power and integrity.”

From the Back Cover

While many denominations claim to be growing, the largest group in American religious life is the disillusioned—people who have been involved in the church yet see few similarities between the church's life and the person of Jesus. In the midst of elaborate programming, professional worship teams, and political crusades, they ask, "Is this really what Jesus called us to do?"

While the church has dismissed these people as uncommitted and lacking in faith, perhaps the opposite is true. Their commitment to authentic spirituality over institutional idolatry might be the very corrective the church needs. These people respect Jesus, but question what Christianity has become.

In If the Church Were Christian, Quaker pastor and author Philip Gulley explores how the church has lost its way. This eye-opening examination of the values of Jesus reveals the extent to which the church has drifted from the teachings of the man who inspired its creation. Many Christians might be surprised to discover how little Jesus had to say about the church, and that he might never have intended to start a new religion.

But the church is here to stay, and Gulley is determined to help the church find its soul. If the church were Christian, Gulley argues, affirming our potential would be more important than condemning our brokenness. If the church were Christian, inviting questions would be valued more than supplying answers. If the church were Christian, meeting needs would be more important than maintaining institutions.

These simple statements return us to the heart of what Jesus cared about during his ministry. Gulley provides a profound picture of what the church would look like if it refocused on the real priorities of Jesus.

Product Details

  • File Size: 295 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0034EJL68
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,860 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
107 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound, honest, insightful, forthright and healing February 14, 2010
I stumbled upon the author and this book when a Quaker acquaintance recently mentioned the author was coming to our area to speak about his latest work. Intrigued, I attended one session by the author, acquired this book and then set about selecting several chapters to devour prior to hearing him a second time the next evening.

Here are the chapter headings in this work:

If the Church were Christian...

1) Jesus would be a model for living rather than an object of worship
2) Affirming our potential would be more important than condemning our brokenness
3) Reconciliation would be valued over judgment
4) Gracious behavior would be more important than right belief
5) Inviting questions would be valued more than supplying answers
6) Encouraging personal exploration would be more important than communal uniformity
7) Meeting needs would be more important than maintaining institutions
8) Peace would be more important than power
9) It would care more about love and less about sex
10) This life would be more important than the afterlife

Following the conclusion is an outline of three discussion questions for each chapter and an invitation to the reader to suggest other aspects of the church that may need to change in recovering the ethic of Jesus.

I was stunned and surprised by Gulley's honesty and forthrightness in presenting his material as he carefully laid bare certain of the church's pervasive shortcomings. In the sixth chapter, for instance, Gulley alluded to the tendency of some churches to replicate their theological DNA, thereby promoting and securing a type of spiritual inbreeding that can lock out a given congregation from healthy growth in faith (page 108).
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What the church should be, but usually isn't February 22, 2010
In his first two theology books, If Grace is True and If God is Love (both co-authored with Jim Mullholland), Philip Gulley looked outward, to the theological questions that define the divine. Now, in his latest work, he looks inward, to the institutions and practices that define the religious life.

If the church were truly Christian, it would focus on this life more than the afterlife; on following the example of Jesus more than believing creedal statements about Jesus; on loving whole human beings without reserve or judgment. Gulley covers these and many other points in a conversational, easy prose that communicates some profound thoughts without seeming heavy.

To me, Gulley seems to be describing a church that would fall somewhere between the liberal end of Christianity and the Unitarian Universalist world. Having spent time in both, I think his thinking would be welcome in either, but much less so in the more conservative strands of Christianity.

Gulley, along with John Shelby Spong, Scotty McLennan, Marcus Borg and a few others is pioneering what I think may eventually become a new shape of religion. For those of us who have a strong religious impulse but can't fit well into the traditional church, it's an exciting time to be paying attention.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kudos to Philip Gulley! February 7, 2010
In collaborative efforts with Jim Mulholland ("If Grace is True" and "If God is Love"), the two writers managed together to open a window in an otherwise stuffy edifice. So I've been looking forward to the release of this solo treatise by Philip Gulley for a number of months. And while I approached "If the Church Were Christian" with high expectations, I must say that Gulley has greatly exceeded those expectations! He's managed to "open that window" a little more. This book is a breath of fresh air! Be prepared to put aside any preconceived notions based on the impression the title may give, put on your thinking cap, and pay close attention. You may not agree with every conclusion Gulley draws, but it would be a shame to miss the message of this book. It echoes the call of the rabbi from Nazareth . . .
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71 of 87 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I think there are better options on this topic March 3, 2010
Two or three times a month I receive requests to do book reviews on a blog that I manage. Depending on the author, publisher, and/or book title I sometimes say, "sure" and other times, "not really interested." A couple of weeks ago I said "sure" purely on the book title. The book was "If the Church Were Christian." However, it was the sub-title of the book that intrigued me, which was "Rediscovering the Values of Jesus." I wasn't familiar with the author, who was Philip Gulley, but I was in agreement that we need to "rediscover" the values of Jesus.

The overall premise of the book is that the church has lost its way. The author believes that the picture of American religious life is one of disillusionment. He contends that it is difficult to see many similarities between the church's life and the person of Jesus. He unpacks this thesis in 10 chapters, each beginning with the words; If the Church were Christian . . .

1. Jesus Would Be a Model for Living Rather Than an Object of Worship
2. Affirming Our Potential Would Be More Important Than Condemning Our Brokenness
3. Reconciliation Would Be Valued over Judgment
4. Gracious Behavior Would Be More Important Than Right Belief
5. Inviting Questions Would Be Valued More Than Supplying Answers
6. Encouraging Personal Exploration Would Be More Important Than Communal Uniformity
7. Meeting Needs Would Be More Important Than Maintaining Institutions
8. Peace Would Be More Important Than Power
9. It Would Care More About Love and Less About Sex
10. This Life Would Be More Important Than the Afterlife

So far so good. (Except that I would have tweaked a couple of the chapter titles.) I am pretty much in agreement with the author's assessment of the institutional church in America.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars ... they go to church on Sunday and then behave like they did the rest...
Seems to ask Christians today to become ever aware of why they go to church on Sunday and then behave like they did the rest of the week.
Published 13 days ago by Richard O'Brien
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT book
This book is transformative for the church and if more of our churches followed these principles, the world would be a better place. Highly recommended. Read more
Published 1 month ago by BishopTPierce
5.0 out of 5 stars If the church Were Christian is superb.
This is excellent and certainly gives much to think about and ponder, especially during these trying times in the church.
Published 1 month ago by Mary Jo Colucci
4.0 out of 5 stars If the Church Were Christian: A quick read
I thought Gulley's book was an honest and fair look at the conservative Christian Church. Being an ordained minister in a fundamentalist group for over 40 years, I felt a little... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Rev. Robert Gutleben
5.0 out of 5 stars Phillip is quite honest in his dealings with people and lets us know...
We are using his book in class, and as a result, have extended discussions. I was somewhat surprised when he held back on voicing his opinion, indicating concern over his position... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mike
5.0 out of 5 stars good book
I haven't finished reading it, but my Sunday School class has discussed it, and I am looking forward to finishing it.
Published 2 months ago by Carolyn Schmidt
3.0 out of 5 stars Eat the meat, spit out the bones
How one man can be spot on when it comes to the way the church often wounds its own, then blow completely it by suggesting we ought to pattern our US economy after the Europen... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jack Getz
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes you think!
Fantastic writer. Makes you think about your own Christian beliefs even though you may not agree with all of the author's own theology. Couldn't put it down. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dr. Kathy Pruett
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to be read multiple times!
Gulley really opens your eyes! Wonderful book which should be shared with many congregations. If the church is to survive, changes need to be made. His ideas are great.
Published 4 months ago by Susan M. Stein
5.0 out of 5 stars the truth about being a Christian
words for all of us to follow unto others as you would have them do unto you...follow the example of Jesus
Published 4 months ago by swaters360
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More About the Author

Philip Gulley has become the voice of small-town American life. Along with writing Front Porch Tales, Hometown Tales, and For Everything a Season, Gulley is the author of the Harmony series of novels, as well as If Grace Is True and If God Is Love, which are coauthored with James Mulholland.

He hosts "Porch Talk with Phil Gulley" on the Indiana PBS affiliate WFYI television's flagship show Across Indiana.

Gulley lives in Indiana with his wife, Joan, and their sons, Spencer and Sam--in a rambling old house with Gulley's eclectic chair collection (64 at last count) and a welcoming back porch.

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