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The Naked Anabaptist by Stuart Murray

with 3 comments

What’s on the other side of imperial Christianity?


How do you think of church? Many readers of this blog find the church experience painful and reductive: at best irrelevant. At worst, dangerous agitprop. Other readers soar. I’ve been on both sides and I prefer soaring.

Church is an institution forged from a less-than-stable amalgam: people and Other. People are the weak link. But people can also surprise.

On several occasions I have written critically about church (like here and here and here and here plus about a dozen other places on this blog—just type “church” in to the Search bar to the right). For me lately, most churches resemble all the other CEO-driven marketing machines in our culture. But this marketing machine sits at the local level pulling in spectator-consumers to fund the local brand.

Yes that sounds cynical.

But just read through the New Testament and compare the multi-voiced organizations that sprung up with any of the big box affairs we love in this country. Those small communities in the text were chock full of the risen Christ and were spinning changed participants out (and back in and out and in. And out). Notice that growing spectators was not their goal and participation in shaping the organization and experience was expected.

But this book makes me less cynical: The Naked Anabaptist. Tracing a history back to the sixteenth century dissenters (who died for taking Jesus seriously, often at the hands of reformers), the book gives a fresh take on our waning years of Christendom (that is, the curious intertwining of culture, power and religion that started with Constantine in the 4th century establishing Christianity as the state religion and continued to today, give or take).

Many lament the loss of cultural power of Christianity in the U.S.

Not me.

My reading of the gospels puts the poor and weak and needy at the center of what Jesus intended. His was/is an ethic markedly different from the mandates we pursue that force a top-down approach. And The Naked Anabaptist hints at what the church could look like if it were not a univocal marketing machine. Murray’s seven core convictions lay out a compelling picture. And it is not a picture with one pastor/president/CEO at the top. The book probably gives more shortcuts to Anabaptist thinking that some Anabaptists would be comfortable with, but it is thought-provoking and vision-building.

Woodland Hills in Saint Paul, Minnesota is considering joining the ranks of Anabaptists. The church came to the conclusion after realizing the kinship they had with the doctrines. But I wonder: can a mega-church be a multi-voiced church?


Written by kirkistan

April 7, 2013 at 6:08 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Ooh, added it to my Amazon Wish List. Thanks!

    Angie Ward

    April 7, 2013 at 6:34 pm

  2. Just finished this book last week. Loved it!

    Roger Messner

    June 8, 2014 at 10:01 pm

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