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Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church Paperback – October 4, 2007
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— director of Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton
"Paul Metzger is a prophetic voice in the American evangelical community. His theological vision of a church consumed by Christ and not by consumerism could not be more timely or helpful. Writing with scholarly depth and human empathy, he exposes the consumerist roots of racial and economic divisions in the body of Christ and shows how faithfulness to the gospel leads to a reconciled evangelical community and witness."
— Duke Divinity School
"In the wake of the transformations that took place in the last half of the last century, it was impossible for an earlier generation of evangelical intellectuals to ignore the modern world's, indeed America's, race problem. But rarely was the lip service paid to the problem translated into careful reflection on theology's own culpability in forging the racial world in which we live and move and have our being, to say nothing of reimagining theology itself and church life beyond the racial world that Christianity and its theologians had such a significant hand in making. Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church is the breakout book of a new generation of young evangelical intellectuals who are striving not to make the mistake of their theological-evangelical fathers. It should be read."
— pastor of Imago Dei Community, Portland, Oregon
"Paul Metzger has become a catalytic voice in the city of Portland. His passion for the gospel engaging the culture is at the core of his life. Because of that, Paul continues to tackle gospel-centric issues that the church for too long has ignored, been ignorant of, or simply dismissed. This book is one of those great tackles that makes the highlight reel on SportsCenter. With theological depth, cultural understanding, and a prophetic edge, Paul calls us to face one of the key issues threatening the church in the West and educates us on how that may look. This is an important book."
— pastor of Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas
"Consuming Jesus sounds the death knell for a paradigm of church growth driven by the homogeneous unit principle and measured in success by numbers, dollars, and buildings. Metzger writes with personal passion and professional expertise, providing a wealth of insight for practitioners addressing the question If the kingdom of heaven is not segregated, why on earth is the church? His work should be read by everyone desiring to restore the local church to a place of compassionate influence within the community."
— President of Wiconi International
"While articulating a profound critique of major flaws in the American evangelical church, along with affirming his love for the evangelical community, Paul Louis Metzger offers a theological model for overcoming barriers of race and class within the church. As a Native American, I see today the negative effects of the uniquely Americanized ‘consumerist' version of Christianity that Metzger is unmasking for our reflective examination. . . Metzger asserts that Christians are called to care for the weak, impoverished, marginalized, and oppressed; yet he also argues that we must fundamentally reorient the ways we address people's plight, dying to a kind of self-serving impetus. He offers another path to address their situation, claiming that Christian faith offers energizing hope . . . The invitation of Consuming Jesus to a life of radical reconciliation inspired and driven by the love of Jesus that overcomes the evil one and restores life-giving power to the whole church resonates with my spirit."
"A compelling, practical, challenging, beautiful model for the church today."
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It is rare to come across a discussion of such issues that actually attempts to get to the roots of the rotting tree in order to open one's heart to the underlying causes of social maladies. Metzger does not simply call for reconciliation and unity--he puts us in the driver's seat and helps us understand how we are reinforcing division, without even being aware of doing so.
This book is excellent reading for anyone who wants to understand how we can better promote and live a lifestyle of unity among others. Metzger's style is a fusion of the academic and the artistic, and his ability to delve deeply into the issues with intellectual vigor while using powerful metaphor to keep our hearts connected to the subject is engaging. This work both honestly exposes and honorably encourages, directing us toward a vision that inspires us to "invest in something of greater value than the stock market."
Metzger suggests that the practice of consuming Jesus as our daily bread requires that we hold together both the church's unique identity and its call to serve the world. He states: the church must "hold firmly to the politics of Jesus," to serve "without abandoning their distinctive qualities and traits, all of which can bring richness to church and civil unity." For those who yearn for the church's transformation of culture, this book is a necessary check for the temptations which will accompany that journey.
I was recently asked to recommend a book that describes the church as it is meant to be. Though they are being written every day in the evangelical spheres, I could think of none more worthy of a hearty endorsement than Consuming Jesus. Buy it. Read it. Consume it.
I can think of no better way to recommend this or any book than by sharing this with you. I have read this book twice, and I have just begun reading it for the third time. Guess what? I am enjoying Consuming Jesus this third time around as much as I did the very first time I read it! I cannot say this enthusiastically enough:"Read this book!"
1. I love this book because it is a critique of evangelicalism by a man who is a committed evangelical. I love the humility of the book as Dr. Metzger admits to being a part of the problem, but boldly calls us to move and take action. I think this brokenness and humility is very Christlike. It is definitely something that I want to follow him in.
2. I love this book because it deals with a major blindspot of evangelicals: race and class divisions in the church. I was talking to a Hispanic pastor (Jessie) who I met in Nashville. Jessie is pastoring in Texas, and Rich Stafford and I were asking him about his ministry. He commented that Texas is completely integrated. Mexicans and Caucasians do everything together. The only place that is not integrated, he said, is the church. This is tragic. And this is not just a Texas problem.
3. I love this book because it helps to identify subtle ways that we contribute to race and class divisions in the church. We often run our ministries and programs in such a way that they feed our comfort levels. We willingly divide by taste. We have a homogeneous model, which basically drives us to appeal to a certain kind of person and then surround them with people who are like them. We do this all kinds of ways, whether it is by small groups that are affinity groups, whether it is by having a contemporary service and a traditional service, or whether it is by highlighting and emphasizing ministries that are more about appealing to tastes than about following Christ (not wasting our lives).
4. I love this book because it rediscovers the biblical emphasis of walls being broken down by the gospel. Ephesians 2 talks about Jews and Gentiles becoming one in Christ. 1 Corinthians 11 (the communion passage) rebukes the Corinthians because the rich are disregarding the poor. Jesus said that outsiders will know that we are his disciples by our love for one another. The gospel is reflected beautifully when we experience unity between young and old, rich and poor, black, white, hispanic, asian, native american, and any other group that we often segregate. That's what I want! How awesome would it be to have our churches reflect the unity that Christ brings, instead of unintentionally communicating that you need to be like us to go to our church. Otherwise, go find one that meets your tastes.
5. I love this book because it challenges me on who my heroes are. Are my heroes those who have glowing success stories? Or are my heroes those who have been poured out for the work of the gospel? At the end of his life, Paul said that he had no regrets. He said that he had fought the good fight, run the race, kept the faith. Then he talked about being poured out as a drink offering. Paul's version of success was to be poured out for Christ. Jesus himself, in John 12, said that unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground, it cannot bear any fruit. I want to follow Christ (and Paul, and Wilberforce, and MLK, and others) by losing my life for him.
Anyway, I obviously recommend this book. It is convicting and challenging, but it is hitting on a blind spot that many of us have (I know it is a blind spot of mine). It is well worth the time that it will take to read.
Most recent customer reviews
I read Consuming Jesus with great interest to see if the bases were covered on race, class and
consumerism in the Church to my...Read more
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