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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provocative and Helpful
Rubel Shelly has written another thoughtful, provocative, and helpful book. He tells stories that make practical points, lays out historical and critical thought about church landscape and how we navigate this bombed out and twisted terrain. I found the book helpful, which is why I read a book, to find it helpful in some way in my life, my spirituality, my interaction...
Published on May 25, 2011 by Greg Taylor

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22 of 56 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I liked it better when no Christian would dare refer to Jesus as a "Christian"
There's something really off-putting to me about the title of this book. I've never heard Jesus referred to as a "Christian" anywhere until it became trendy over the past decade for some Christian leaders and authors to disown the name "Christian" because of church people behaving badly. Paul knew that some behaved badly in the name of Christ, but he was not ashamed to...
Published on May 21, 2011 by lighten_up_already2


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provocative and Helpful, May 25, 2011
By 
Greg Taylor "Greg" (Tulsa, Oklahoma USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I Knew Jesus before He Was a Christian... And I Liked Him Better Then (Paperback)
Rubel Shelly has written another thoughtful, provocative, and helpful book. He tells stories that make practical points, lays out historical and critical thought about church landscape and how we navigate this bombed out and twisted terrain. I found the book helpful, which is why I read a book, to find it helpful in some way in my life, my spirituality, my interaction with the world. One of my favorite sections was a story about a man who didn't have a church, in the man's opinion, in his town that exemplified the kind of church Shelly is calling us to. Shelly suggested the man go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and find the kind of community, openness, confession, and authenticity that ought to be in the church. The man dragged his feet, finally decided to go, eventually started sharing, and eventually delved into a past that needed healing, deep healing that could only come through confession and falling at the feet of Jesus. Great book and highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! A Book On What We've All Been Thinking, July 15, 2011
This review is from: I Knew Jesus before He Was a Christian... And I Liked Him Better Then (Paperback)
Author Rubel Shelly has it right. Jesus was someone everyone wanted to know - before he became a Christian. While this title may seem irreverent, it isn't. Shelly is just telling it like it is - Christians have destroyed the name of Christ.

Too harsh? Nope. He's spot on.

In I Knew Jesus Before He was a Christian, the author asks the question why church is so unattractive to so many people and attempts to show where we got lost. He does a great job of it too. Is the author anti-church? Not at all. He's more about the body of Christ remembering their biblical mandate in the world and getting back to how the early church functioned. Rubel Shelly explores a model for thinking of church in terms
that are more personal than institutional.

He explores the history of the church and accurately states, "So long as church is a place or a series of events on certain days and at certain times, it will continue to have minimal-to-decreasing influence for changing the world."

The body of Christ is the church, unfortunately we have not been united as a body for some time. We are Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal, etc. and our differences in worship and beliefs are vast. Accept the one belief that holds us together - that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour and He died to save us from our sins. Until we get back to that central message of hope and give up the many rules, rituals and regulations that make church so boring and unapproachable, we are failing our Lord in our mandate to spread the Gospel.

This book has so much more to say and I admit it has me thinking. I highly recommend it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read - Enjoyed the compare & contrast of Jesus then/now, June 23, 2011
By 
Andy Allen (Oceanside, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I Knew Jesus before He Was a Christian... And I Liked Him Better Then (Paperback)
To be honest, I was a little cautious diving into this book. I wondered if it would be another one of the "I love Jesus but I don't like church" books that Christian publishers have been churning out over the past couple years. It wasn't. I was pleased to find the author's approach and tone to be fair, conversational and engaging.

The heart of the book is a compare and contrast of the Jesus that is described in the Bible -vs- the Jesus that a great deal of modern Christianity presents. I found myself very intrigued by the discussion of Christian faith and religious expression in the pre & post Constantine eras. Shelly contends that there is a clear distinction of the church that grew organically pre-Constantine and the church that has grown organizationally post-Constantine.

A good portion of the book looks at what church could be like if we approached it in the way Jesus modeled it. In an honest assessment of the modern American Church, I agree that we see many flaws and ways it has failed in living out the true message of Jesus in our world today. Within institutionalized or establishment religiosity there are gaps between the Gospel message of scripture and living a relational faith that is compassionate and authentic.

"So long as church is a place or a series of events on certain days and at certain times, it will continue to have minimal-to-decreasing influence for changing the world."

I am still processing a lot of what I read in this book...I like a book that makes me think. I appreciate that it isn't a 'bash the church' book and that a balanced look is given to the reasons the church is where it is today, as well as some of the ways we can be different as we look to the future.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars :), May 25, 2011
This review is from: I Knew Jesus before He Was a Christian... And I Liked Him Better Then (Paperback)
This book reveals and explores one of the common issues in American churches which is not typically recognized or addressed on a Sunday morning- Christians who don't behave like Christians. The topic of how the Church needs to adapt to modern culture in a way that is still reflective of the character of Jesus is one that many in scholarly Christian circles will already be familiar with, so this book may seem a bit shallow to those who are looking for a really meaty read. In my opinion, however, this book is clearly meant for the general Christian audience, and is not necessarily geared toward those in academia. I think this is a good thing- there need to be books dealing with this topic that are accessible to those who may not be in ministry and who may not have gone to school to study theology.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Diagnosis, October 1, 2012
This review is from: I Knew Jesus before He Was a Christian... And I Liked Him Better Then (Paperback)
Rubel Shelly makes the argument that Christ was not concerned with wealth, massive church buildings, programs or status rather he was just concerned with bringing peace to broken people. One of Shelly's most striking assertions is that post Constantine Christianity has been a bad PR agent for Christ. When you read of the church in Acts and compare that with what we have seen since the Constantine institutionalization of the church, you can't help but agree.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a pro-Jesus & pro-church perspective, February 28, 2012
This review is from: I Knew Jesus before He Was a Christian... And I Liked Him Better Then (Paperback)
Based on its content, I Knew Jesus Before He Was a Christian . . . and I Liked Him Better Then could have a number of alternative titles including: I Knew Christianity Before Constantine . . . and It's Time to Restore that Form of the Faith or I Knew Christianity When it was a Movement . . . and That is a Much Better Model. In keeping with the Restoration Movement, of which the churches of Christ are a part, Shelly argues for a return to the ways of the early church thereby enabling followers of Jesus today to be both pro-Jesus and pro-church. Instead of the current tendency for groups to divide again and again over differing views of theological matters, Shelly believes the return to the earliest views of Jesus and experiences of church will bring about unity.

With numerous Scripture references, Shelly seeks to reorient his readers to how people experienced and lived out their faith in the first few centuries after Jesus' earthly ministry. Restoring this type of faith requires undoing 1700 years of development in the institutional church. However, it also provides a path to a more authentic Christian faith. Some of the proposed outcomes from such a shift include:

*Churches moving from institutional to relational (p.45-46);

*Worship moving from being a "left-brain exercise in analytic theology" in modernity or a right-brain experience in postmodernity to an integrated "whole-person worship" as was present in the early church (p.122);

* and Ministry returning to all of God's people with a more robust understanding of the priesthood of all believers (the reformation reintroduced the concept but still retained a hierarchy requiring clergy to do certain religious "tasks" rather than opening the doors wide enough for all to enter fully into ministry, p.157-175).

This book is most effective as a tool for discussion about how the church has changed over the last 1700 years. Toward that end, it provides a substantive group discussion guide with questions relating to each chapter.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loving others is what it is all about, November 29, 2011
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This review is from: I Knew Jesus before He Was a Christian... And I Liked Him Better Then (Paperback)
Rubel Shelly hit the nail on the head with insight shared in this book. For years I've pondered a fuller way to show love to others in and out of the church. So neat to read about relational church and how we can be on the mission field in any profession or circumstance in life. Rubel gave a voice to so many things I have also considered, and he did it in such a succinct, scripture based way. I enjoyed getting to know more about Jesus and what He stood for and what he was opposed to. I hope the church can adapt these beliefs and make changes so more unbelievers can be touched and drawn to a community of lovers of God and of others.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trusted Pastor--Great read, May 25, 2011
By 
J. Graves (Nashville, TN) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: I Knew Jesus before He Was a Christian... And I Liked Him Better Then (Paperback)
Rubel Shelly is one of the most trusted voices in the Restoration Movement--a group that has given the broader world such writers as Max Lucado. This is Rubel at his best--calling the church to show the world how to be the world God created the world to be.

Peace,

Josh Graves
Otter Creek Church
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Classic By Rubel, April 18, 2013
This review is from: I Knew Jesus before He Was a Christian... And I Liked Him Better Then (Paperback)
I just now got around to reading this latest book by Rubel, and I am kicking myself for waiting so long! If Rubel writes the phone book, I want to read it because I know I am going to be challenged and stretched. I am pretty sure I have read all of his books, and I think this is his best one yet. He keeps getting better with age! Jim Woodroof is the same way with his writings. The Jesus that we have created is NOT the Jesus we read about in the Gospels. Rubel is calling us back to the Jesus of the Gospels. One of the later chapters in this book is centered on the theme of Leadership, and it may be the best essay on Leadership that I have ever read. Thank you Rubel!! Please keep them coming! Love you brother, DU
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relevant, profound, June 29, 2011
By 
This review is from: I Knew Jesus before He Was a Christian... And I Liked Him Better Then (Paperback)
Rubel Shelly is an incredible teacher and remains a disciplined student, still seeing things in fresh ways. He's the teacher who finds my blind spot and points it out so I'll be a better person, and his entire message speaks clearly to believers who so busy they might not realize what is happening and what is missing. He focuses on the things that matter, which is how we live, how we're growing, how we've changed or need to change.
The discussion questions for each chapter make for an exceptional "talk out loud about it" opportunity and that's why I've bought multiple copies and plan to buy more.
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I Knew Jesus before He Was a Christian... And I Liked Him Better Then
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