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Summary

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.

©2011 Philip Gulley (P)2011 HarperCollinsPublishers

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting ideas

A book with some interesting thoughts about the Christian Church, except the author has literally thrown out the messianic baby with the dirty bath water of divisive history of the Christian Church. This leaves a faith built on being nice to each other.

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  • Mona
  • 21-05-12

Fantastic Book, must read for modern day christian

What did you love best about If the Church Were Christian?

The emphasis on how we should model our life after what Jesus did.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When he said the following, it was like every fiber of my being shouted "YES!"

"Christianity is less a codified doctrine or creed, and more an approach to life that emphasizes grace, is always on the side of human dignity, is always devoted to our spiritual growth and moral evolution and is always committed to the ongoing search for truth, even if that search leads us away from institutional Christianity."
Philip Gulley

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lori
  • 19-07-11

Wonderful book!

I hope all churches no matter what denomination study and discuss this book. Rev Gulley puts in words so well how Jesus wants us to live our lives. Highly recommended!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • D
  • 25-07-12

For all who feel disillusioned or marginalized!

This was an incredibly straghtforward, but also truly thoughtful and inspirational book. The author's own beliefs are, in some ways, radical, but that's not a bad thing. He makes a multifaceted case for reevaluating the church itself and our lives as Christians so that we are not just repeating beliefs or manifesting dogma, but ACTING LIKE CHRIST. His approach is to ask us to consider how Jesus might think about behaviors that have become a part of the modern church and then he explores the issue through references to scripture and anecdotes. It's very much like having a long conversation with the most open-minded minister you could ever imagine. He says things that ... just make sense and yet, instead of saying you have to agree with him, he says you should think about these things for yourself, in light of Jesus' life itself and not just whatever rules or "truths" a church or religious community expects people to live their lives by.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Author Matthew Robert Payne
  • 27-01-18

I thought I was going to learn more about Jesus

The Jesus the author believes in was not the Son of God, was not born of a virgin and he didn't do miracles. He denies the divinity of Jesus, the need for his sinless death and many other things I am sure if I had continued. I only listened and read 2 chapters and that made me too upset and annoyed that I had wasted my money.

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  • girlie4zuz
  • 25-09-17

Short story, but great content.

I was apprehensive about this title. As someone who walked away from Christianity entirely for awhile, it was reaffirming to hear that I wasn’t alone, and some of the things that drove the wedge weren’t just imagined. Additionally, it was comforting that the message came from someone who is still inside, and there is someone that is doing the right thing.

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  • JVW
  • 16-08-17

Interesting premise-poorly argued

Best part of the book is the chapter titles...it goes down hill from there. It's not clear who gulley is writing this for...other than himself. This book offers nothing new and doesn't provide any constructive advice on how to move forward. Better title would be "If People Were Perfect"

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    2 out of 5 stars
  • monte reed
  • 15-08-11

could not finish it :(

The author has a lot of great ideas in this book. A lot of his ideals would be great if churches would take his advise. but i disagree with a lot of other view points the author has. If you do not have a strong faith, do not listen to this book.

1 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Lou A
  • 26-11-16

a non christian epic failure

a non christian should leave writing about the church to a Christian. not worth reading

0 of 2 people found this review helpful