Being Christian in the Twenty-First Century

Being Christian in the Twenty-First Century was written out of a concern for the graying of the church and decline in church affiliation especially among younger generations. It promotes an understanding of Christianity that avoids literalism, dogma, and doctrines—all factors which many believe is driving people away from the church.

Being Christian does not restate orthodox positions or drift into fundamentalism or sentimentalism. Instead it draws from a broad base of historical, theological, archaeological, and sociological scholarship to place Scripture within its original context yet presents it within a perspective suitable for the twenty-first-century mind.

Being Christian while scholarly, is also conversational, interesting, and often provocative. One reviewer put it this way, “the book reminds me of a baseball pitcher with a long wind up and a hard fastball getting better in every inning.” By building upon progressive thought available today and throughout history, it offers an important resource for Christians and would-be Christians seeking a more fulfilling and thoughtful faith journey. The book is well suited for individual or group study, complete with a study guide and sample lesson plans

“Gould, in the tradition of lay theologians like C. S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, and William Stringfellow, writes with conviction, candor, and clarity as he articulates what it means to be Christian in the twenty-first century. Calling for a more intellectually and spiritually satisfying faith, he bases his thinking on the best biblical and theological scholarship available and presses the reader to think critically and constructively about Christianity. An educator par excellence, Gould has produced an incredible theological text designed for adults, but also fitting for post-modern youth yearning for meaning in their lives and world.” —Donald E. Messer, emeritus president and Henry White Professor Emeritus of Practical Theology, The Iliff School of Theology, and author of Calling Church & Seminary into the Twenty-First Century.

“Born of a questioning faith and informed by rigorous scholarship, Being Christian in the Twenty-First Century is fides quarens intellectum (faith seeking understanding) at its best. Gould’s work is as valuable to the emerging church as that of Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, and John Shelby Spong. —Tom Stella, chaplain, retreat leader, former Holy Cross priest, and author of Finding God Beyond Religion.

“Sam Gould turns ‘back to the future’ by offering a progressive interpretation of biblical texts and traditional church teachings that contemporary Christians can embrace as rational, ethical, and humanist. He writes for those who wish to be Christian without forfeiting their critical intelligence or liberal morality. While Gould asserts that Jesus reveals what a fully evolved human life can be, he also calls for ecumenical openness to those of other religious faiths.” —David L. Weddle emeritus professor of religion, Colorado College, and author of Miracles: Wonder and Meaning in World Religions

In 100 pages, Sam Gould has put together a challenging argument for a progressive Christianity in our time, making his pitch to the members of churches as well as pleading for priests and ministers to be more honest and courageous.

Chapters deal with “Being Christian,” “Justification by Faith,” “Jesus: The Fully Human One,” “From Criminal to Christ,” “Atonement,” “Is Jesus the Only Way?” “Scripture: Word of God or Word of Man?” “God,” and “Church.”

Covering such large areas of belief, it is to be expected that the reader might have many questions. Gould anticipates that by providing a very detailed bibliography, an appendix covering the historical backdrop and the politics of first century Galilee and another on the economy, public health and religious matrix of that time.

The book is written in the hope of it being used as a tool for discussion groups. There is a very detailed study guide for each chapter with an introductory essay on “The Adult Discussion Class.”

Gould is an academic whose career has included leadership positions in business and government. He has also studied theology and served in administrative positions in local church settings for over 40 years. This shows in the ways in which his writing is rooted in the reality of the present day church scene. He pays due credit to progressives like Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan and Jack Spong.

Sam Gould dedicates his book to his eight grandchildren “who will face their adult journey in the twenty first century.” If any of my grandchildren have any inclination for or against Christianity, I would be happy to offer this book to them to help them think through the issues. It’s the sort of book I would be happy to give to anyone showing signs of a questioning faith. —Rev. Jim Hollyman, Progressive Voices, June 2018, Progressive Christian Network Britain, United Kingdom

Progressive Voices is the magazine of the Progressive Christianity Network Britain [Registered Charity No. 1102164]. It is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. PCN Britain is itself part of a wider international network of progressive Christian organizations. 

About the Author
Sam Gould is dean emeritus, School of Business Administration, University of Dayton. Prior to his acadSam Gould is dean emeritus, School of Business Administration, University of Dayton. Prior to his academic career Sam worked in middle management at a division of General Motors and served as a junior officer in the United States Air force. During his career he has consulted with numerous for-profit, nonprofit, and governmental entities. In retirement, he has written books and poetry, served as executive director and board president of the Community Partnership Family Resource Center, and as a board member of Habitat for Humanity in his community. For the past ten years he has served on the board of his local community bank, the past five as its audit chair and chairman. In 2008 he organized the Contemporary Christian Roundtable, an adult study group in its tenth year at Mountain View United Methodist Church in Woodland Park, Colorado.

As a young man Sam read works by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and became infatuated with studying theology. Over the next 45 years he acquired a broad knowledge of theological subject matter. In 2012 Sam published his first book, Faith Beyond Mere Belief, which integrates material from the theological, sociological and psychological literatures.
Sam and his wife of 55 years split their time between living in the mountains of Colorado and the spiritual aura of Santa Fe, New Mexico. More of Sam’s thoughts and writings can be viewed at his website

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