The Myth of a Christian Religion
Author: Gregory A. Boyd
Publisher (Hardcover): Zondervan (May, 2009)
Topic: Radical Christian Living
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Description: In this sequel to his bestseller, The Myth of a Christian Nation, Dr. Gregory Boyd issues a clear call to manifest God’s beauty and revolt against evil—with Jesus’ life as our example. Passionate theology and practical insight combine to create a guidebook for simple, radical, Christlike living.
From the Back Cover: The kingdom of God is a beautiful revolution. Marked by the radical life, love, servanthood, and humility of Jesus, it stands in stark contrast to the values and ways of the world.
Regrettably, many who profess to follow Christ have bought into the world’s methods, seeking to impose a sort of Christianized ethical kingdom through politics and control. In this illuminating sequel to his bestselling book The Myth of a Christian Nation, Dr. Gregory Boyd points us to a better way—a way of seeing and living that is consistent with the gospel of Jesus and his kingdom. Between the extremes of passivity on the one hand and political holy war on the other lies the radical, revolutionary path of imitating Jesus.
In twelve areas ranging from racial and social issues to stewardship of the planet, this book will convince and inspire you to live a Christlike life of revolt and beauty—and it will help you attain a practical lifestyle of kingdom impact.
Greg’s story behind the writing of The Myth of a Christian Religion
The Myth of a Christian Religion crystallizes a vision of the Kingdom that has been evolving in my mind and heart for at least the last twenty years. It began, I believe, when I first discovered the horrors that have frequently taken place throughout church history “in Jesus’ name.” Whatever Jesus came to do, I thought, it clearly had nothing to do with things like the Inquisition, the Crusades or the barbarism that characterized the early European conquest of America “for God and country.” My thinking about the Kingdom was further refined as I grew increasingly uncomfortable – and eventually, disgusted with – the politicization of the faith with movements like “the Moral Majority” and “the Christian Coalition.” While I might have agreed with some of the political points these groups stood for, I couldn’t see anything in these attempts to acquire political power and control the behavior of others that looked remotely like Jesus. At the same time, throughout the 90’s and early years of the third millennium, I have become increasingly aware that many of the most fundamental values and ideals that undergird American culture radically contradict the values and ideals of the Kingdom Jesus came to bring. And yet, the vast majority of American Christians (including myself until recently) are completely unaware of this contradiction.Over time, I gradually woke up to the profoundly simple and simply profound truth that the Kingdom Jesus came to establish always looks like him. Which means, if a movement or country or organization doesn’t look like Jesus – loving the unlovable, serving the “least of these,” refusing all violence while dying on behalf of one’s worst enemies – then it simply isn’t the Kingdom. It’s that simple! It doesn’t matter if they call themselves “Christian,” recite orthodox creeds and even engage in good deeds. If a movement, country or organization doesn’t manifest the beauty of God’s will and self-sacrificial character, reflected most profoundly on Calvary, it’s simply not the Kingdom.This vision of the Kingdom was reflected in my book The Myth of a Christian Nation. Yet, this book is polemical in nature, critiquing the way in which contemporary western evangelicals tend to politicize their faith. Consequently, the publishers of The Myth of a Christian Nation (Zondervan) thought it might be helpful to provide readers with a much more comprehensive and slightly less polemical vision of the Kingdom, as I understand it. (The fact that Myth of a Christian Nation was a best seller might have had a little to do with their interest in a sequel. It’s possible. That’s all I’m saying.)
I was excited to comply with their interest, yet I have to confess that writing this book has been extremely challenging. It’s my own fault.
More than a year had passed between the time I formally wrote up a proposal and a contract was settled on. Consequently, by the time I began writing this book – which initially was titled Revolting Beauty – the book had evolved in my mind into something slightly different than what I was contracted for. Imagine my discouragement when, after six months of writing, I sent in the first five chapters of Revolting Beauty only to hear that my publishers didn’t think these chapters reflected the original proposal. They had to be scrapped.
Six months work down the tubes!
But that was just the beginning. I then spent the next eighteen months writing a 150,000 word (roughly 400 pages), quite academic, theologically dense version of Revolting Beauty. I loved it and happily sent it off. Imagine my discouragement when I heard back several weeks later that my book would have to be cut by two-thirds! It turns out the original contract, which I never bothered to consult, called for a 50,000 word manuscript.
Now, you might legitimately wonder how I could have worked eighteen months on a book without consulting the original contract – especially after the first five chapters had already been rejected. Believe me, I’ve wondered this myself. I guess I tend to get into my head and lose track of the world, especially when I’m passionately engaged in a writing project. And in none of my previous eighteen books has this ever been an issue.
Live and learn, right?
In any event, I can honestly say that the editors at Zondervan did an amazing job retaining the heart and force of this book (now retitled The Myth of a Christian Religion), despite having cut out so much. And they are undoubtedly correct in claiming that reducing this book by two-thirds and removing much of its academic theological argumentation will give it a much wider readership and allow it to have more impact than it would have otherwise had. So, I’m delighted with the book in its present form.
I’ve saved all the heavy theological argumentation for a later, more academic, book on the Kingdom.
Maybe. Someday. Who knows?