If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus is a sobering book that look at the qualities of the modern day Christian church. The author presents an exploration and critique of the different areas that are out of alignment for being with the highest good for all, and out of alignment with love and spiritual evolution.
It is wonderful to come across books that make us think critically, question and expand our personal views and limiting beliefs. Such is the case with If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus by Philip Gulley. The material offered by the author of this book is current, valuable and for the betterment of society, to the point that it encourages personal evolution, and most importantly evolution towards love. It is a book I highly recommend for any and every Christian, or person tied to a religious affiliation to read, and I explain why I feel so strongly below.
Book and Author
If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus as I mentioned above, was written by Philip Gulley and was published in February 2010.
Philip is a Quaker minister and writer. He is the author of over 15 books. Philip is also a frequent speaker at churches, colleges, and retreat centers across the United States. His first most known book, which he co-authored with James Mulholland was If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person. This book offers a beautiful message of hope and love for all people regardless of their various backgrounds.
In 2005, Philip and James continued on with a second book of a similar nature, entitled If God Is Love: Rediscovering Grace in an Ungracious World. Then in 2007, Philip wrote his best seller, Front Porch Tales: Warm Hearted Stories of Family, Faith, Laughter and Love, where he shares tender and hilarious real-life moments that capture the important truths of everyday life.
To learn more about Philip and his work, visit his website: www.philipgulley.com.
Book Format and Structure
If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus, is quite a short and easy read. It is just under 200 pages and can be read within about 6 hours. It begins with a short introduction that sets the stage for what this book is all about. It then opens up to the following 10 chapters, which quickly give the reader an excellent idea of the topics covered in the book:
- Chapter 1 – Jesus would be a Model for Living, Rather Than an Object of Worship
- Chapter 2 – Affirming Our Potential Would Be More Important Than Condemning Our Brokenness
- Chapter 3 – Reconciliation Would Be Valued Over Judgment
- Chapter 4 – Gracious Behavior Would Be More Important Than Right Belief
- Chapter 5 – Inviting Questions Would Be Valued More Than Supplying Answers
- Chapter 6 – Encouraging Personal Exploration Would Be More Important Than Communal Uniformity
- Chapter 7 – Meeting Needs Would Be More Important Than Maintaining Institutions
- Chapter 8 – Peace Would Be More Important Than Power
- Chapter 9 – It Would Care More About Love and Less About Sex
- Chapter 10 – This Life Would Be More Important Than the Afterlife
Philip finishes the book with a closing word, and a section of over 30 excellent reflection and discussion questions to further the reader’s growth and spiritual evolution.
Book Content & Personal Commentary
So based on the title and the above chapter breakdown, you probably already have a good idea as to what this book is about. Indeed, it is a look at the current state of the Christian Church – all of its 39,000 different denominations, and trying to bring it back on track with the actual values of Jesus. In other words, the book is a huge wake-up call for all Christians.
The author is a Quaker minister, but I found that this does not hinder the material presented whatsoever, as he provides as unbiased view of events as possible. He shares his experience from time to time throughout the years of his early and present ministry, with examples that serve as very valuable, as well as his experiences with other Christian denominations.
I have to tell you, this was one of those books, where I wanted to share some quotes with you from the author, but as I read, I literally highlighted every second sentence, so it was a really tough choice. The arguments, reflections, facts and ideas the author presents are phenomenal!
That so many gatekeepers in today’s church act in ways Jesus roundly condemned is one of the great ironies of modern Christianity.
Philip Gulley – If the Church Were Christian
The author begins the introduction with opening thoughts of what did Jesus really want when it came to the establishment of a church or religion. After all the basis of Christianity and its foundations are based on the life and death of this man named Jesus. Here Philip does a phenomenal job at showing that in fact we barely know anything directly from the mouth or mind of Jesus, yet many people and the modern church act like they have the absolute and ultimate truth when it comes to that.
The modern Christian church is based on stories that were written long after Jesus had died, and ones that were greatly picked apart by the political and governing bodies around 2000 years ago, to best suit their needs. So not only can we not be sure as to what was really said, or how it was meant, but the modern church today, also has a hard time with any kind of growth or evolution of its institutions. It is literally closed to any new revelations, despite the fact that humanity today has matured and evolved to understand “God” on a much different level.
He also does a great analysis, of what the word Christianity really means today. Whatever it meant in the past, he asserts that today to most, it basically means – being nice. He claims that the criteria for Christian faith today seems to be this: if I say I am a Christian, I am. On the other end of the coin, he also acknowledges how many of us are Christian simply due to where or what family we were born into, and often not by conscious choice.
All of this sets the foundation for the topics and amazing 10 aspects that Philip explores throughout the book. He does this all while acknowledging that he is in no way practicing the perhaps ideal values of a modern church yet or has in the past, but what he presents is his dream for the future Christian church. And what a beautiful overview that presentation is.
Salvation would be when heaven was in us, not when we were in heaven. It would happen when we stopped worrying about saving our own skin and cared more about saving and restoring the land and sea and sky and all who dwell therein.
Philip Gulley – If the Church Were Christian
I loved all the chapters more or less equally, but chapter 1 really resonated with me so much, because in my personal spiritual awakening in the past few years, I was personally awakened to such a new and more beneficial way of understanding Jesus. The idea of Christ Consciousness that other authors and teachers today speak of so much is no coincidence and it is what I personally strive for everyday of my own life.
Philip also explores how instead of focusing on the theory, dogma or orthodoxy, or being stuck on various details that have divided Christianity into 39,000 different denominations, we should be more concerned with trying to be and live like Jesus, not just reciting church prayers and participating in its rituals, without practical application of them to every area of our lives. Jesus is an amazing example for us to follow, but the way Christianity presents him is in a light that he is above and beyond what any of us can ever even remotely come close to.
Every topic from love, marriage, divorce, homosexuality, parenting and compassion – to – sin, reconciliation, salvation, guilt, shame and judgment are discussed. Philip truly has done a great job in my opinion at presenting all of these important issues to Christianity in a way that all can easily understand and relate to.
One of these topics that I really resonated with as well, as I am seeing it with so many people I know, is that they have left the church to the point that it served no meaning for them until they had children, and as soon as they had children they start going to church again. This is as Philip also discusses and exemplifies due to the fact that so many of us have been conditioned to think that the church holds the only keys to teaching us how to be moral and good people. Most of these parents, not for a second consider why they left the church in the first place, and how it can be actually more damaging than helpful, to fall back into the patterns of the parenting they grew up with, especially where religion today is concerned.
Most pastors teach their congregations what to think. We need to teach people how to think.
Philip Gulley – If the Church Were Christian, pg 114
The book is written in such a smart, engaging and at the same time friendly way. I have to tell you, as someone who came from and lived a quarter of their life in a Christian background, I completely understand where Philip is coming from, and greatly support his ideas. In most books, there are usually things we like and dislike about the style or message, but this was one book, where I honestly cannot think of one of those things. The only one things is that it will not be suitable for closed minded people.
As I stated in the introduction, I highly recommend this book. But why? Why, aside from what I said above, do I want you so much to read this book? For no other reason than the fact that it encourages and supports evolution in the areas of spirituality and personal growth. And I think this is a key area where many of us are today in these changing Earth times.
In fact it does not matter if you are Christian, or of another religion. As long as you are open to growth and are not afraid to have your beliefs and all that you think is the absolute core of your religion examined or want to learn more, than this is the book for that.
You may sense my passion shining through when it comes to this topic and there is good reason for that. In the past, I have been part of a Christian religion, as I mentioned above, and I have seen the good and the not so good sides of it. I also know today clearly why I have decided to have no identification with any religion, and yet have a better relationship and understanding of God and Jesus, among other things like life, death, the afterlife and more.
So many of us are so dependent on religions out of fear, guilt, insecurity or just out of habit, and being where I have been, I know today that it doesn’t have to be this way. We can think for ourselves, we can have many new and beautiful communities, and we can be close to Jesus, God or whatever religious figures you choose, without going through a third party. Ultimately if you are part of a religion, I would just make sure that it is making you a better, not a worse person.
I could go on and on about this book and the numerous fantastic points that Philip addresses to awaken us to our highest state of being, to think for ourselves, and to place love above all else, but I would just be giving away his entire book. So better yet, read it yourself. If you are seeking, have questions or want to explore the past and present of modern Christianity further and where its potential future stands, this is a great book for that.
Perhaps this spiritual rigidity is a necessary step in our moral and religious evolution, a phase through which we must journey on our way to a richer, more meaningful spirituality.
Philip Gulley – If the Church Were Christian
In the end, I so applaud Philip for bringing this material and beautiful discussion forth to all of us. As he mentioned several times throughout the book, it has caused him distress and unpleasant situations at times, for as you can imagine, he says things that many Christians are far from ready to hear, or admit. This is the inconvenient truth of the Christian church today, and one I wish every Christian would consider. So it is all the more reason why I applaud his work, for anything that causes us to think or feel discomfort is perhaps the best platform from which to grow and evolve.
You can purchase the book from major online book stores, like Amazon.com (below).