Myth of a Christian Religion: Losing Your Religion for the Beauty of Revolution by Greg Boyd

I’ll preface this by saying that I am already a pretty big Greg Boyd fan.  It is the first time I’ve read one of his books, but I have followed his podcasts from Woodland Hills Church for about 8 months now.  I say that because reading this book I wasn’t sure how much of it was new to me.  8 months ago, probably half of it would have been new and amazingly profound.  For that reason I’m only going to write one post on this book, even though I easily could do the same thing I did for A New Kind of Christianity by Brian McLaren: spreading out by topic over multiple posts.  I’ll be quick, though, and just tell you to read it yourself.

The subtitle captures the idea of the book.  It is a challenge to lose the Christian religion in favour of the revolution of Jesus.  That’s why he says that the Christian religion is a myth, or at least that it is supposed to be a myth.  In fact, Boyd argues (and I agree) that Jesus was definitely not trying to set up a religion – instead he was trying to get rid of religion.  Beyond some other good books on the topic, though, like Bruxy Cavey’s End of Religion, he gets into some very specific ideas of what Jesus calls us to revolt against.

The twelve aspects that Boyd touches on are listed below:

  1. The Revolt Against Idolatry
  2. The Revolt Against Judgment
  3. The Revolt Against Religion
  4. The Revolt Against Individualism
  5. The Revolt Against Nationalism
  6. The Revolt Against Violence
  7. The Revolt Against Social Oppression
  8. The Revolt Against Racism
  9. The Revolt Against Poverty and Greed
  10. The Revolt Against The Abuse of Creation
  11. The Revolt Against The Abuse of Sex
  12. The Revolt Against Secularism

I think the first three were more of a foundation for the rest.  Boyd essentially makes each of the others idolatry in some way or another because they are all essentially things that replace God as the priority in our lives.  This includes religion itself which is basically the hoops we jump through to get to God.  I thought it was very good that he put Judgment up front as well, since that is probably the biggest problem in religion once there is some kind of “us and them” attitude.  Nationalism and Violence I fully expected to be in there, but I still love reading when people reject those things in the name of Jesus, especially when it is an American evangelical pastor doing it.  I also liked that he not just mentioned Social Oppression but went specifically into Racism as well, since so many don’t realize how much of a problem that still is, at least as much in the church as anywhere else.

Secularism provided a great finish since most people don’t think of that as a real problem.  I’m fine with it as a political philosophy, but it clearly has some contradictions with Jesus who obviously taught and exemplified that there is more to life than the current physical world – we are to think about the future, the past, and the spiritual.  To tie it back to the first one, it is essentially a form of idolatry because it requires that all that matters is what is physically in front of us right now, so that’s how you can get to so much of the other stuff (not necessarily, but it logically flows from it if not checked by some other ethical system like humanism).  So of course we’ll end up being greedy or nationalistic or abusing sex or abusing the environment because nothing else matters.

So check this book out, especially if you’re stuck in a rut where the Christian religion is just a religion.  A revolution truly is far more beautiful than a religion, and if you look at the Gospels and the early Christian movement, there is no doubt that they were going for the former and not the latter.  Let’s try to reclaim some of that revolution.  As Boyd put it at the end of every chapter, viva la revolution!

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.