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If the Church Were Christian

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  378 ratings  ·  76 reviews
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...more
Unknown Binding, 224 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by HarperOne (first published 2010)
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Tenille Shade
I have read Phillip Gulley's other theology books, but this one is probably my favorite. His perspective on how the church has lost its way resonates with my own faith struggles. I have been battlings a deep sense of disillusionment for years now, and when I read a book like this I realize I am not alone. Gulley gives the reader permission to question the churches' deeply rooted traditions, and reminds us that grace should triumph fear.

If you consider yourself "open-minded", this book will chal...more
Kit
I agree with everthing Philip Gulley says in this critique of "church" - by which he means pretty much every Christian denomination in America (he is a Quaker). And if you wonder how he could lump all the Christian denominations together, just ask yourself if you think the Sanctuary Carpet-Choosing Committee meeting looks or sounds very different no matter which denomination you're in.

And that's what Gulley is really talking about here - not in-depth theology (although he does touch on big theol...more
Rod
Reading this book was as much fun as walking into a china shop with an AK-47 assault riffle. There is sooo much to shoot at...you can't miss! Every paragraph has a error of logic and theology. Philip Gulley can look at the simplest situation and get it backwards. This is no surprise since people like Borg, Claiborne and Diana Butler Bass approved of this heretical nonsense.

The disturbing part is that many people on Goodreads gave this book a good rating - is the entire world theologically illit...more
Sarah
I loved this book! The author has some significantly different beliefs than my own, yet I came away with a boatload of ideas for improving my spiritual life. Such a good reminder to go back to the primary source, the words and actions of Jesus himself, as we practice Christianity.
My favorite passage is in the last chapter, where Gulley describes the lives of Ben and Dorotha, an elderly couple who “…lived on one Social Security check and gave the other away. They raised chickens so they could dis...more
Amy
When our children were about middle-school age, they and many of their friends began wearing bracelets that had the letters "WWJD" on them, which stood for "What would Jesus do?" If the Church Were Christian is all about what the author believes Jesus would want us and our churches to do. It's a wonderful reminder of the core values Christianity was based upon, stressing the importance of love, service to others, forgiveness, acceptance, and peace.

Philip Gulley is not afraid to talk about contr...more
Katherine
I was lucky to have found this book at a library sale. I had heard of his other work "If Grace is True", and have been wanting to read it. So when I saw this laying on that table, I had to have it. And I'm very glad I found it.

Reading this book was almost like finding someone had taken many of the different things I believe about religion and faith and had written them out for me - in a way I know I never could.

Books like this mean a lot to me - someone who is often considered a "heretic" for co...more
Stan
The author has an interesting backstory in that he was raised Roman Catholic but later left the catholic church and joined the Quakers. He has been a Quaker minister for over 20 years. On more than one occasion, he reports, congregants have demanded that he give up his credentials as a minister because of his provocative and outspoken beliefs (not too surprising, since he flatly dismisses the virgin birth as not credible, and tells congregations they should stop spending their money on missionar...more
Gloria
This is one provocative little book. Just finished it and had the thought that I better dive into Rob Bell's controversial book "Love Wins" and now I see in the description on GoodReads that Gulley's books will appeal to Rob Bell fans.

Gully is a Quaker pastor who normally writes funny, inspirational books ala Garrison Keillor (Lake Wobegon Days). This is a seriously different format and content. Gulley is good at using simple, story-like examples to make his point, but it is his points that will...more
Erika
Gulley has some good points and I appreciate his perception of Jesus' teachings in this book and how it applies to the church as a global whole. Some of his points were particularly refreshing, such as the tolerance of people to ask questions in faith and to explore. However, the basis of his book is shaky. In the first part of his book, he challenges readers to ponder where we, as Christians, gain our knowledge of Jesus. He nearly disputes the possibility that the Biblical texts that we rely on...more
Sera Goldsmith
While I don't agree with everything in this book, I found it incredibly thought-provoking. The author tackles many issues in the church that have really struck a chord with me in the past, and have been reasons that I have chosen to take a step back from church and figure some things out for myself. While the areas I disagree with him on are related to theology and specific biblical ideas, I have to give him credit for being so bold as to question things and present alternative view points. Very...more
Lis
It's interesting how Gulley picks and chooses from the words of Jesus. Anything he likes becomes the truth. Anything that doesn't fit his viewpoint is discarded. He's an extremely misguided man, and the great pity is, he's misguiding others - even to the point of suggesting people seek out false religions.
Sharon
Gulley is gentle, but firm-- and right on about the church. I would hope that good church folks would take his criticisms and his recommendations to heart.
Lloyd Hughes
Mr. Gulley's work appears to address the ever-widening gap between form and substance in the practice of religion. Most Christians are aware of and concerned about this -- some consciously, some unconsciously. Most are uncomfortable challenging the establishment. Some leave the Church, some remain in place in a state of docile compliance. There are several polarizing issues challenging today's church that are creating a spirited debate among devout/committed/concerned/well-meaning defenders of t...more
Kevin Summers
Sample quote: "The gospel accounts, written some thirty to sixty years after the death of Jesus, are the early church's words about Jesus, not necessarily the actual words of Jesus. ... Nevertheless, the story of Jesus is a compelling one and still has the power to shape, form, and transform our lives."
Shirley Freeman
This was great. It's hard to dislike a book which articulates my own views so well. I read it fairly quickly in preparation for the author's community visit last weekend. It would be a good one to read again and to discuss with a group. If you ever have a chance to hear Philip Gulley speak, I would urge you to do so. He's funny, thoughtful, articulate -- and a great story-teller. When asked what his ideal church would be, he said it would be one where people would love deeply and be truly authen...more
Josh
Good look at what Christians could be if they would let go of what everyone else thinks they should do and do what Jesus said to do.
Michael Jenkins
This is a great book to believers and also unbelievers, it is very good. The title of this book is what pulled me in,after reading the synopsis I decided to read the book. The first sentence pulled me in and I read through the entire thing in one day. The author makes three different points that would make you question your belief on whether you follow Christ or not. One- If the church were Christian, inviting answers would be more valued than supplying answers. Second- Meeting needs would be mo...more
Lisa Baumgartner
Par for the Philip Gulley course; he does not disappoint. Radical and thought provoking, a great book for group study.
J.T. Oldfield
From my review:

However, because he focuses so much on church life, his scope tends to be rather narrow. In the chapter called “Peace Would Be More Important Than Power” he doesn’t touch on politics, the responsibility of politicians, or the world-wide role that the church plays. Instead, he talks about some ladies he knew who ran the church pantry, which was for poor people, and how stingy they were. A valid point, it’s true, but as I say, limited in scope.

Read the rest of my review here: http:/...more
John
I had liked Gulley from his interview in Conversations with American Writers, so downloaded this one right away when I saw my library had the e-book available. Here, he takes on issues of The Church as an absolutist authority figure, the confluence of religion and politics (including the idea that war has been justified in God's name, at least implicitly), etc. quite effectively, without being at all strident. Definitely recommended ... unless you recoil at the term "progressive", in which case...more
Matthew
I can't really say that I found anything of value in this book. One has to remember that the church is made up of people and by definition people are not perfect. One must remember that while people are going to fail you, Jesus never will.

I honestly hope that if Mr. Gulley is the pastor of a church, that he does not compromise the essentials of Christianity. One cannot use the ends to justify the means. While we, as Christians, can enjoy liberties where the Bible is silent, we must always speak...more
Brian
Feb 27, 2010 Brian rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: faith
Probably Gulley's best work. In "If God Is Love", he and Mulholland started to lay out what a gracious, universalist ethic might look like. In this book, Gulley elaborates on those ideas and elucidates his vision of what a church that fostered that ethic would look like. While I don't always agree with Gulley's theology, he raises some powerful questions. Some of the arguments are reminiscent of Spong's "Why Christianity Must Change or Die", but Gulley's conversational style makes for a more app...more
Robert
A loving yet firm critic of the institutional church a definite must read for all who care about Christianity's future
Judy Gacek
Easy read. Lots to think about.
George Miles
Another life changer for me. While I do not agree with everything Gulley says (and I'm not sure I know anyone who will), the questions he proposes and the corresponding challenges will stretch your understanding of what Jesus wants from those of us who claim to follow him. Read this book with an open mind and you WILL not be the same.
Davewent
This is a very thoughtful and challenging book. All of Philip Gulley's books are provocative. Because of his faith history, he has an understanding of what drives so many people into dysfunctional faith. While Rob Bell's "Love Wins" stirred up much controversy, Gully goes much more deeply. Be sure to read his other books, co-authored with James Mulholland: "If Grace Is True," and "If God Is Love."
Next on my must read pile, Gulley's "The Evolution of Faith."
Alison
We all choose the things in our lives that are worth committing to despite their flaws, and the church has been one of those things for me. Some people put energy into the political system in the hopes of making whatever small improvements they can. I put my energy into the church in that same vain. I share the author's vision for the church as a place for learning, grace, community, caring and questioning - not a place of judgement, uniformity and absolutes.
Hilary
An interesting book about 10 guidelines that may improve Christianity, if only the church as a whole was willing to change. I thought the author brought up good discussion about major points of contention that individuals outside the church may have against organized religion. My only complaint was that the author wavered a little in some of the chapters, and seemed to start stories without finishing them. Overall, a good book.
Robin
This is the latest non-fiction book from Quaker Pastor Phil Gulley who is threatened with expulsion from the Quaker Church on a regular basis for his liberal thinking. In this one he discusses issues like "If the church were Christian it would care more about affirming our potential rather than condemning our brokenness". I don't agree with everything he says, but like the way he thinks.
Chris
Every Pastor should have to read this book. The premise of acceptance of other ideals and beliefs needs to be brought into the Evangelical churches. My guess is they just won't get it.
I can't agree with everything he wrote about (especially the myths part), but I can see the direction he was taking us. None of us is righter or wronger
We are who we are and that has to be okay.
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Philip Gulley has become the voice of small-town American life. Along with writing Front Porch Tales, Hometown Tales, and For Everything a Season, Gulley is the author of the Harmony series of novels, as well as If Grace Is True and If God Is Love, which are coauthored with James Mulholland.

He hosts "Porch Talk with Phil Gulley" on the Indiana PBS affiliate WFYI television's flagship show Across I...more
More about Philip Gulley...
Home to Harmony (Harmony, #1) Just Shy of Harmony (Harmony, #2) If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person (Grace Series, #1) Christmas in Harmony: A Harmony Story (Harmony, #4) Signs and Wonders: A Harmony Novel (Harmony, #3)

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“I have failed to be an appropriate model for Christian conduct many times. At significant points, when I should have led by example, I failed to embody the very principles I publicly affirm. I have been intolerant, greedy, slothful, and even dishonest. Were someone to say I was an example for how others should live, I would be flattered but would know their assessment was inaccurate. To say Jesus is 'only an example,' as if that were a small thing, underestimates not only the profound difficulty of serving such a role, but also discounts its rarity.” 2 likes
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