Friday, February 24, 2012

Robin Meyers's "The Underground Church"

Robin Meyers is a nationally known United Church of Christ minister and peace activist. His congregation describes itself as unapologetically Christian and unapologetically liberal. He writes for Christian Century, is an award-winning commentator for NPR, and a professor of rhetoric in the philosophy department at Oklahoma City University.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Underground Church: Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus, and reported the following:
On page 99 of The Underground Church the first full sentence will be a difficult one for many orthodox Christians to read: "Easter is not a transaction for sin but a revelation about God." I go on to remind readers that the idea of the blood atonement would not be fully formed in the church for a thousand years, and that no art would show a crucified Jesus hanging on the cross for that long as well. Because for the first half of the life of the church, a crucified Jesus paying the price for our sins was not the iconic image of Christianity. Instead the church considered itself to be paradise restored (and restoring) on earth. "Early Christians did not think of heaven or paradise just as something beyond this life. It was, first and foremost, in this world. It is made possible by the spirit of God that permeates those at worship, who glimpse paradise around the communion table."

So what is this book about? In an age of hyper-partisan politics the church is also guilty of a kind of spiritual gridlock. Liberals and Conservatives continue to argue over abortion and gay marriage instead of feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and joining forces to resist a culture of violence and greed. In The Underground Church, I issue a clarion call for the church to return to its roots as a Beloved Community working across theological differences to heal a broken world. Modeled on the idea of the Underground Railroad of the 19th century, where being subversive meant working together in a quiet conspiracy to free slaves, The Underground Church is a call for followers of Jesus to be subversive again for the cause of love. Instead of insisting that others convert to our way of thinking, all churches can join this movement, without sacrificing their identity or their theological traditions—so long as love of God and neighbor is more important than doctrinal purity. I'm a practicing pastor with 30 years of experience working across theological and political differences on behalf of peace and justice, and The Underground Church is both a manifesto and a practical guide offering advice to help churches renew themselves by reaching out to one another instead of circling the wagons. Such a quiet conspiracy of love is the true meaning of Christianity.
The Underground Church is endorsed by Desmond Tutu, Bill Moyers, Marcus Borg, Brian McLaren, Harvey Cox, Diana Butler Bass, Parker Palmer, and Fred Craddock.

Learn more about the book and author at Robin Meyers's website.

--Marshal Zeringue