Gregory A. Boyd is hardly a new voice in religious circles although he certainly has developed something of a reputation for being on the outside of many circles looking in. Boyd is an evangelical pastor with a distinguished past of academic accomplishments including training with honors at Yale and Princeton Theological Schools. He has served in the past as a professor at Bethel University.
Boyd is probably best known in the theological community as a leading proponent of what is termed 'Open Theism' which seeks to reconcile some difficult elements of the Biblical Text by seeing God as less than all-knowing and all-powerful (although some see this as a voluntary limitation rather than one inherent to God's nature) and therefore God sees the future as a series of possibilities rather than from a position of transcendent knowledge or certainty.
As a result, Greg Boyd hasn't been all that warmly embraced by those elements of "orthodoxy" in Christian evangelicalism that hold to more traditional positions, particularly the reformed and Calvinistic schools.
Starting from this position, it shouldn't be particularly surprising that Boyd has some things to say about the state of 'traditional' Christianity. In fact Boyd has many things to say, and his latest book, 'The Myth of a Christian Religion,' follows nicely on the heels of his prior book, 'The Myth of a Christian Nation,' which addresses the religion comingled with nationalism that is the bread and butter of the so-called Religious Right in the United States.
Some additional background that may be helpful is that Boyd reports in an interview for the New York Times from 2006 that about 20% of his congregation left when he took a stand against explicitly or implicitly endorsing conservative political causes from the pulpit. In that context, this book can be somewhat seen as an apologetic work pointing out the inconsistencies of religion-based nationalism as opposed to the Kingdom of God that Jesus preaches in the Gospels.
As such, Boyd appears strongly aligned with a growing number of authors who address these types of issues in different literary Genres. This reviewer noted marked similarities to some degree with such authors as William P. Young, Wayne Jacobsen, C. Baxter Kruger, Jim Wallis, Malcolm Smith, Frank Viola and George Barna to name a few.
The book is divided into 12 chapters and each stands somewhat alone as an essay addressing the conflicts that exist within the Gospel of the Kingdom as opposed to the popular forms of teaching and belief that have been traditionally accepted, almost without question or critical thought in much of the modern American church. The theme of most of the chapters is one of revolt, or Jesus as the revolutionary; the undeniable point being that much that comfortable christians and congregations embrace today has little to do with what Jesus taught and the early church modeled. The subjects include Christ and Caesar, Idolatry, Judgment, Religion, Individualism, Nationalism, Violence, Social Oppression, Racism, Poverty and Greed, Environmentalism, Gratuitous Sexuality and Secularism. Wrapped through all of these topics is the supremecy of Christ and the inadequacy of philosophic thought and religious systems to replace a basic relationship with Jesus.
Boyd has a real gift for putting together precisely and succinctly in a pithy and provocative manner the arguments against much of how Christianity has been defined and presented by the evangelical movement over the past 40 years. He does it in a manner however, that while still provocative is not mean-spirited or merely an opposing political ideology. One comes away with the impression that the left, were it more in vogue wouldn't fare much better as the target of Boyd's scrutiny.
The reviewer read the book in the Kindle version and the only real constructive criticism that arises is that the separation of the the Action Guide, which comprises about 25% of the material would have been easier to use if each section had followed the chapter in question.
5 Stars. A very worthy read and in the vein of these books as well.The ShackSo You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore: An Unexpected JourneyRevolutionPagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church PracticesMyth Of A Christian Nation