Is God a Christian?

Mercer University Press, 2011

In a world composed of almost seven billion people, about 2.2 billion of them claim to be Christian. And while Christianity is continuing to grow at a modest rate, other religions are growing at a faster pace. Some scholars
predict that Islam will overtake Christianity as the world s largest religion by the middle of the twenty-first century. Predictions aside, religions are competing for the world stage, and in the competition, Christians seem certain that God is on their side. Christians often think and behave as though God is a Christian.

This book is written to ask if that assumption is true and to foster a more open conversation about other world religions. The world has grown too small and the stakes for mankind have grown too high for any of us to engage our faith
as if our understanding of God represents the only way God s presence may be known in the world.

We need, more than ever before, to develop creative communities of conversation. Conversation does not begin with talking. It begins with listening. like Quakers of old, we need to gather in humility and honesty to face the meanness and evil that religion itself has sometimes heaped upon mankind. Godsey asserts that We should open ourselves to new spectrums of light that may emanate from faiths foreign to our own. Our high calling is to commit ourselves to building a better pathway for creating understanding and mutual respect among people of faith throughout the world.

Review & Commentary

One thought on “Is God a Christian?

  1. Review

    In 1996, R. Kirby Godsey was president of Mercer University in Georgia, which was affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.  He had just published a book called “When We Talk About God, Let’s Be Honest”, which declared that the Bible was not inerrant.  For this he was hauled before 3,000 members of the Georgia Baptist Convention of the SBC and condemned and censured.  Shortly after that, Mercer University and the SBC severed their ties.
    Godsey remains a thorn in the side of fundamentalists, as is evidenced by the reaction by Albert Mohler, head of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, against Godsey’s new book, “Is God a Christian?”  “This book is an unmitigated theological disaster,” says Mohler on his website.  Albert Mohler was part of the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC: he is now effectively the Pope of the Southern Baptists.  The old Baptist principle of individual interpretation of scripture, dating back to Roger Williams, was thrown out and replaced with a fixed dogma, which all SBC institutions were forced to endorse. Godsey offers a strikingly different definition of Christianity than Mohler’s.  “We do not become Christians by adopting certain beliefs or following certain moral prescriptions.  Christianity is not a formula for getting to heaven… The Christian faith transforms our understanding and relationship with God, enabling us to experience that our being bears the imprint of God…” (p 109)  The book is a beautifully-written essay promoting religious pluralism from a Christian perspective.  Much of it is an argument against fundamentalism in all religions, and an argument for openness, toleration, and compassion within and among the world’s faiths.  The book offers brief introductions to the world’s religions, praising their positive contributions, and pointing out the limitations of some of their expressions.Kirby Godsey speaks for and to Christians who are in recovery from doctrines that do not reflect the compassion of the Christ.  He is committed to Jesus Christ and to the Christian church.  He explains that he’s not a “relativist”:  “…rejecting exclusivity does not require abandoning our commitments.”  (p 25)  His faith itself has led him to embrace religious pluralism.  “As we recover from our proclivity to be exclusive and arrogant, we can begin a new journey of learning and growing in our spiritual lives.” (p 29)  He puts his own awakening to the fact that “all religion is human religion” (p 27) in the context of his upbringing, listening to fire-and-brimstone sermons in the South.  His account of his childhood summers with his beloved grandmother in rural northern Alabama, absorbing her natural faithfulness, grounds the book in experience that touches the heart.

    “Progressive Christianity” is a term he doesn’t use in the book, but his writing reflects both its theological and social senses. He makes accessible a humbler, kinder, open-hearted and open-minded theology, particularly for readers who share his Southern Baptist background.

     

     

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