221 of 244 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Does it matter if Jesus was born to a virgin or not? Does it matter if Jesus was born in a manger or a field, to a virgin or a wife with several children? Does it change anything if Jesus wasn't really, physically raised from the dead? Is He somehow less influential, less important, less moral? Are His words or His actions any less significant or inspirational if he had a girlfriend or a companion? Then why, Meyers asks, is that all we talk about anymore?
The title and its accompanying cover say much of what needs to be said about the new book from Oklahoma City resident, author, professor, scholar, syndicated columnist, and controversial reverend Robin Meyers. The bluest man in the reddest state has put his new book to the masses for what he hopes will be a uniting, not dividing, result. With such a title, you'd think it a stretch, but Meyers' approach and respect for the subject is convincing for anyone who makes it past the Prologue.
This book attempts to dissect, as the previous sentence begins to describe, the human side of Jesus and the deity which was created in his remembrance. Jesus the human was about peace, unconditional love, inclusiveness, aiding the sick and the poor, forgiving, and fellowship. The deity, on the other hand, is much more about commandments and rules, practices and rituals, do's and don'ts. Dr. Meyers points out that merely believing in Jesus has no impact on our daily lives. Following Jesus, though, can change everything.
Dr. Meyers seeks to find the common ground in all the divisiveness and debate about religion. Meyers has said of his own book that he hopes Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, and Agnostics alike can see that when we remove that which we disagree - and there are many things about which we disagree - we can all see that following the teachings of a human being like Jesus will be the more productive task to merely consenting to belief in a deity like Christ.
Meyers' central purpose for the book? Finding a reason for the millions of Americans who have left the church in disappointment, confusion or betrayal to come back and try a new approach to faith: Following what Jesus represents, not just believing in His story.
While political in the Prologue (Meyers gives an account of a dream in which he found himself isolated from the modern stereotypes of Christianity and its alignment with Conservative politics, war, and greed), Meyers soon defects from his personal motives and finds a near-objective position from which he frames the rest of his book. Thoughtful and patient, Dr. Meyers teaches and guides at a pace that is tolerable for religious scholars and more than accommodating for the casual reader.
In his least political and most thoughtful book to date, Dr. Robin Meyers finds the common ground in the world of Jesus and lays out a call to action that unites us under a banner of hope and reconciliation.
111 of 122 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Every so often, a book comes into my life and acts like the hand that shakes a snow globe, disturbing all of the molecules of my existence and rearranging my internal landscape. My college Intro to New Testament class textbook, Henri Nouwen's Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life, Parker Palmer's To Know as We Are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey, and a handful of others have gone beyond being engaging or thought-provoking to being truly transformational forces in my life. To that short list, I'll now add a new one: Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus by Robin R. Meyers. It's a book that really should come with a warning label on it, like, "This book will either change your life, your ministry, your faith, your friendships, and just about everything else...or, you'll be too afraid to let it do so!"
Meyers, the pastor of Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City and the author of four books, surveys the state of the church and of contemporary Christianity--conservative and liberal--and doesn't think much of it is in sync with the message of Jesus. The bottom line for Meyers is that the church has overemphasized belief rather than actions that indicate one is following Jesus, and each chapter points us in the right direction.
Meyers is very solidly on the progressive end of the theological spectrum, and his book does a fine job of deftly skewering more conservative forms of Christianity or biblical interpretation. But those on the left should be well-prepared for the regular roasting they receive as well. This passage is fairly typical:
"In a world today that is desperate for something real, many megachurches today are like Disney World plus God, while too many mainline churches are serving up bits and pieces of the Great Books Club. One wonders which fiction is most cruel, that all your dreams can come true if you pray the "Prayer of Jabez" or that discipleship is the same thing as enlightenment...The first question any churchgoer should be asked and expected to answer is: What are you willing to give up to follow Jesus?" (p. 145)
Each chapter contrasts "common" Christianity with a progressive, uncommon understanding of Jesus' teaching. They cover a lot of territory:
* Jesus the Teacher, Not the Savior
* Faith as Being, Not Belief
* The Cross as Futility, Not Forgiveness
* Easter as Presence, Not Proof
* Original Blessing, Not Original Sin
* Christianity as Compassion, Not Condemnation
* Discipleship as Obedience, Not Observance
* Justice as Covenant, Not Control
* Prosperity as Dangerous, Not Divine
* Religion as Relationship, Not Righteousness
This prophetic book would make an ideal resource for group study (and it really begs to be read in community) though unfortunately no discussion questions are included. Consider it especially for a summer Sunday school class, a staff study, a young adult study, and a congregational study. The book does assume the reader is at least somewhat familiar with contemporary progressive biblical scholarship (i.e. has moved beyond a literal understanding of scripture), so little time is spent exploring the ground that has already been superbly covered by scholars like Borg, Pagels, Brueggemann, Levine and others (see his ample endnotes for many other great books). Instead, Saving Jesus consistently does a fine job of summarizing the scholarship and then moving on to the question which so often is neglected: "So what do I/we do now?" There is no "step by step guide to following Jesus" here, but if read carefully (especially with others), Meyer's work will undoubtedly help us all stop pretending to be followers of Jesus so we can save Jesus from a church which has for too long distorted his message.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I really loved this book. Robin Meyers liberates Jesus from the stiffling straightjacket of being a god to being a man who believed in God and saw life in God as something to be lived. Meyers makes the point over and over again that not only is a literal view of the bible untenible, it reduces humans to only being interested in what it takes for their own personal "rescue", not to mention what it says about a god if there is one. Biblical scholarship makes it plain that the ideas of Jesus as god were added later, and I agree with Meyers and others like him that this was a litergy meant to explain, in the understanding of people at that time, their feeling of what Jesus was. Anyone who wants to believe in a god that kills for the price of his favor is welcome to their tribal and evil god. Anyone raised in the church was given the belief that Jesus is god, that he came here on a rescue mission, and the only thing that counts is that you say the right things so god gives you a ticket to the good side of the park when you die. What if Meyers and others are right and that view was wrong? Christianity started as an offshoot of judaism. Perhaps it is time to consider the background Jesus came from when looking at what he represented.
Although most religious people will see Meyers views as stripping the mystery out of God, I believe it restores it. Remember, people, Jesus was not a christian!!! It is shocking how many christians believe that Jesus was not jewish. He was a jewish man raised in the jewish vision of god, and he took that understanding to a higher level by insisting that living through the prisim of, not a merciful god but a loving god, should inform decisions about how to live. He obviously stood against power structures such as the temple in his day, and we would do well to emulate his example with regard to the church and out-of-control political structures as well. They serve largely to preseve power and do not move forward the collective and individual good in balance with one another. Jesus stood against the "robber barons" of his time and was killed for it. Meyers is right: Jesus as a god is powerless, but Jesus as a person who lived as though god informed everything is extremely powerful. Speaking out in favor of what is right has never been popular, but has served to move forward the good policies we enjoy today. Are we prepared to suffer to do what is right? Jesus was.
Although I think Meyers' book leans a little too hard on what some would call the "social gospel", I believe the view that informs the details is right. "Rugged individualism" has become an excuse to ignore the collective good. Our world becomes literally "survival of the fittest", informed by those at the top of the food chain. If that is all that humans are, then we are worse than the animals we use and subdue. Humans, endowed with different brain functions, are required to look at common as well as individual good to survive, and I believe Jesus rebelled against the "survival of the fittest" mentality of his time as should we all. He intended to raise the consciousness of people, not to be worshiped as a god.
46 of 55 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I simply loved this book. Dr. Meyers 20 years' experience in the pulpit and extensive knowledge of Biblical scholarship lend authority to his writing. The book is a page-turner (!) and laugh-out-loud funny in places. It will be enjoyed by those who attend church weekly, haven't darkened the door of one in years, Jewish readers, the simply curious, and those who like me could never get anyone to adequately explain how Jesus' death on the cross meant we were all forgiven our sins, and that by this belief one would be "saved" -- from what?
Dr. Meyers describes his intended audience: "It is a word on behalf of those who have walked away from the church because they recognize intellectual dishonesty as the original sin of orthodoxy. .. It is meant to provide a second opinion for all those who know what they are supposed to believe but refuse to equate miracles with magic or liturgy with history -- and yet still fall silent when someone reads to Beatitudes or get goosebumps listening to the parable of the prodigal son." (that would be me!) "It is ... a call to reconsider what it means to follow Jesus, instead of arguing over things that the church has insisted we must all believe about Christ. Doctrines divide by nature. Discipleship brings us together."
Enjoy the book!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Greg Smith (aka sowhatfaith)
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Saving Jesus from the Church is a wake up call to the 21st century church. Rather than lamenting declining membership and waning cultural influence of the mainline faith communities, Meyers travels back to the beginning of Jesus' life and embodied teaching to find a new way forward that is faithful to the earliest ways of those who sought to follow Jesus. The book begins with an introduction in which the author dreams of multiple characterizations of what Christianity is or could become that would lead him to feel he was not Christian and ends with a concluding chapter in which he restates his dream positively by sharing several descriptions of what Christianity is or could become that would assure him that he wants to continue on with his life of faith as a follower of Jesus. Situated between these contrasting visions are ten chapters focused on explaining why things as they currently are must be deconstructed so that one can reconstruct a 21st century faith that is far more consistent with that of the earliest decades of the first century CE. Scholarly yet pastoral, these chapters capture a new way of seeing one's faith that is more ancient than even the later New Testament books. The chapters are titled:
Jesus the Teacher, Not the Savior
Faith as Being, Not Belief
The Cross as Futility, Not Forgiveness
Easter as Presence, Not Proof
Original Blessing, Not Original Sin
Christianity as Compassion, Not Condemnation
Discipleship as Obedience, Not Observance
Justice as Covenant, Not Control
Prosperity as Dangerous, Not Divine
Religion as Relationship, Not Righteousness