Review of Saving Jesus from the Church

Robin R. Meyers.  Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus.  HarperOne: 2009.  ISBN: 9780061568213.

Meet the Author

Since 1985, Robin R. Meyers has served as the Senior Minister of the 750 member Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City, which has been recognized as the fastest growing  United Church of Christ congregation in the Kansas-Oklahoma Conference.  In addition, he serves as a tenured professor of rhetoric in the Department of Philosophy at Oklahoma City University.  Meyers has written four books in the last decade: Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus (2009), Why the Christian Right is Wrong: A Minister’s Manifesto for Taking Back your Faith, Your Flag, Your Future (2007); and The Virtue in the Vice: Finding Seven Lively Virtues in the Seven Deadly Sins (2004).  For a more complete bio, read his faculty profile.

Book Basics

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

So What?

Meyers argues effectively for replacing the modern view of faith as belief with a view,  rightly labeled as both premodern and postmodern, that faith is following Jesus.  Put in other words, faith is being not believing.  In a culture in which Christians are often referred to as believers, this shift is nothing short of a Copernican revolution.

  • In your experience of Christianity, has the faith been presented as something you believe? In other words, is it a matter of intellectual ascent to specific denominational, creedal or other theological statements?  Are you aware that this view became the dominant view only a few hundred years ago? What are some of the limitations of this view? What are some of its strengths?
  • What would Christianity look like if it were primarily about the experience of following Jesus?  How might this reshape your own journey of faith? That of your community/congregation?  What are some of the limitations of this view? What are some of its strengths?
  • Of these two views, which do you see as more consistent with the model provided by Jesus before the cross?


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