“If the Church Were Christian” Intro & Ch. 1 Review

Well, I am sorry to report that after reading the introduction and first chapter of,  If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus by Philip Gulley, I’ve come to wonder just how he thinks he’s going to assist the church in rediscovering the values of Jesus. I gather it is the author’s opinion that one doesn’t need to believe that Jesus was the son of God, and God in human form in order to discover from scripture how to be more like Him.

Check out this quote from page 2 and 3 of the book’s introduction- “Several years ago I visited a museum and saw the skeleton of a dinosaur.  As I read the plaque, I learned that only a handful of the bones were original, the remainder had been fabricated based on a paleontologist’s extrapolation from the authentic bones. In many ways this is similar to what the church has done.  There are only two verses in one gospel (Matthew 16:18 and 18:17) where Jesus mentions the church, and even those references are dubious”  (doubtful, questionable).   Then the author continues on to share that he is not even sure of the authenticity of the book of Matthew!

Another quote from page 5and 6- “In addition to a growing diversity of the Christian faith, there has been an explosion of knowledge in the past hundred years about the Bible and it’s formation.  While this has broadened our understanding of Jesus and His culture, it also casts doubt on what the church had always assumed were the authentic sayings of Jesus…To claim that { the gospel  versions of Jesus} are historically accurate is likely an overstatement and a misunderstanding of their genre and purpose.”

It is obvious from these statements that the author believes that at least  parts of the scriptures have been fabricated by its human authors, translators, and scribes.

Mr. Gulley also admits on page 8 that The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) have attempted on  numerous occasions to rescind his pastoral credentials.

Another  quote from chapter one, page 12-14 is sending me another red flag…“It would be many years before I understood the irrationality of (Jesus being born of a virgin) of such a claim…In Christianity the Myth of the virgin birth not only served to exalt Jesus, it reinforced an emerging trend within the movement that relegated women to an inferior role…I no longer make the claim that the events of the Bible happened just as they were written…” (I assure you that even though I do believe in the virgin birth, I DO NOT believe that women are inferior!)

On page 15, the author tells us that Jesus never claimed that He, Himself was sinless and then goes on to explain that sin is different for different people and circumstances.

On page 16 , 17, and 21- Mr. Gulley explains that Christians needn’t worship Jesus- “that because of the Jewish setting in which Jesus lived, He never would have allowed himself to be worshiped.  He would have considered that idolatrous.  I believe that his (Jesus’) promotion to divine stature contradicts the Jewish faith of Jesus.”  The author goes on to say that…there are other books that can describe better than he the “process (of how Jesus became God) that unfolded over hundreds of years, involving political manipulation, violence and power grabs.”  

Yet in the following verses we see proof that Jesus is God.  John 14:8-  Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.”

In John 1:1  we see that – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  Later in  John 1:14 we see that Jesus is also the Word just as God is – “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 10:30,  Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.”

John 8:58- “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’

Colossians 2:9   – “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.”

Mr. Gulley also states on page 29, “The Bible is important to us, so we must handle it carefully, not all of it is helpful…”

I guess if you believe that the Bible is mostly a lie and not historically accurate or helpful then you are free to disregard which ever verses you choose to!

As a person who believes the following, …I’m sure it will come as no surprise that I would find this man’s statements disturbing!

That the Holy Scriptures as originally given by God, are divinely inspired, infallible, entirely trustworthy; and the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.

In one God, eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In Our Lord Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, His virgin birth, His sinless human life, His divine miracles, His vicarious and atoning death, His bodily resurrection, His ascension, His mediatorial work, and His Personal return in power and glory…

In the Salvation of lost and sinful man through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ by faith apart from works, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit…

In the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the believer is enabled to live a holy life, to witness and work for the Lord Jesus Christ…

In the Unity of the Spirit of all true believers, the Church, the Body of Christ…

In the Resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life, they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.

Need I continue? Although it could be argued that one need not believe everything written in the Bible to be absolute truth in order to learn about, profit from, and follow Jesus’ teachings, (which is in my understanding to be the point of the book), I have decided that reading further is not worth wasting my time over.  I just can’t get past the author’s “unbelief” to even remotely think that I might learn something worthwhile from continuing to read it. The introduction and first chapter of this book contain nothing but lies as far as I’m concerned!   I want to be more like Jesus, not more like a heretic!  I apologize for even considering writing a review of this book of lies.

Call me narrow or closed minded if you will.  Call me a “my way is the only right way” kind of a person if you will.  That’s okay with me!

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6 thoughts on ““If the Church Were Christian” Intro & Ch. 1 Review

  1. Hi Sylvia,
    I’m linking up from Kate’s and enjoyed your review. What a scary book! Gracious, evil is certainly on the increase in our generation, and it makes me afraid for the kinds of apostasy our children will have to deal with.

    Thank you for sharing your narrow minded thoughts. I’m right behind you, aiming for the narrow gate.
    Susan

  2. I am sorry the book was such a dud. Good luck to Bethany in picking out the next one. Although I think she had the right idea with this one. Even though you are disappointed at least it is provoking you!

  3. Doesn’t sound like a book I’d want to read. Have you heard of John Bevere? I’m reading his book Relentless with my Bible study group. Its been such a blessing for me in this season I’m in.

  4. I’ve started and stopped reading a few books that were completely unpalatable. I’ve forced myself to finish books and then write scathing reviews of them. I don’t consider either approach to be “my way or the highway.”

    That being said, I guess you can be “more like Jesus” without being converted, but you cannot become perfected in Christ without being converted. Being more like Jesus may make you more pleasant to be around, but it won’t save your soul. And, when it comes right down to it, especially considering the writing and promoting of a book is involved, the words “he has his reward” comes to mind.

    Personally, I reconcile my natural skepticism and my faith this way: The Bible is a work of man inspired by God. The Bible itself is not perfect, because in order for it to be perfect than our language(s) would have to be perfect. There is ample evidence that our languages are not perfect. The imperfections of our languages are expounded when applied to the Word of God, because 1) God gave the message to the writers, 2) the writers interpretted the messages, 3) subsequent writers maintained the records 4) those records were then translated into many different languages, often by more than one translator. There is ample opportunity for human error in the Bible itself. Furthermore, throughout the Bible statements are made by various prophets, including Jesus Christ, to the effect that God does not always give it to us plainly. Much of the meat of the Bible is written in stories, parables, and other means of embedding meaning without making it readily accessible and/or applicable. Worldly wisdom CANNOT unlock the secrets of the Bible. God did that on purpose, and we know He did that on purpose because His prophets say so throughout the Bible. However, all this skepticism is basically moot for believers (or those who are willing to believe but only have a small kernel of faith to rely on), because the Bible is NOT intended to be unto itself. By reading, studying, and pondering the Bible through prayer, God can get past the limitations of our understanding and the imperfections of our languages and speak directly to our hearts and souls His truth, which is the ultimate and perfect Truth.

    As far as I’m concerned, the scholars can pick apart the Bible all they want. Their work means nothing to me, but nor am I fit to judge them, or anyone else. Their fate is in God’s hand regardless of what I do or do not do, and God has not called me to do anything on the matter (other than bear my testimony here). All the scholars in the world cannot pick apart the truth the Holy Spirit sets into the hearts, minds, and souls of those willing to ask God for His truth. They can’t even touch it. As far as I can tell, bringing people to ask God is the whole point of it, but maybe that’s just the point of it for me.

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