Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Decisions in a Consumer Church

Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church

Paul Louis Metzger;

Many Americans think that race problems are a thing of the past because we no longer live under the Jim Crow laws that once sustained overt structures of segregation. Unfortunately, says Paul Metzger, today we live under an updated version of segregation, through the subtle power of unchallenged norms of consumer preference. Consumerism affects and infects the church, reinforcing race and class divisions in society. Intentionally or unintentionally, many churches have set up structures of church growth that foster segregation, such as appealing to consumer appetites. Metzger here argues that the evangelical Christian church needs to admit this fault and intentionally move away from race, class, and consumer segregation. Challenging the consumerism that fosters ethnic and economic divisions and distorts evangelical Christianity, Consuming Jesus puts forth a theologically grounded call to restructure the church’s passions and practices, transforming the evangelical imagination around a nobler, all-consuming vision of the Christian faith.


Praise for Consuming Jesus

“Paul Metzger is a prophetic voice in the American evangelical community. His theological vision of a church consumed by Christ and not by consumerism could not be more timely or helpful. Writing with scholarly depth and human empathy, he exposes the consumerist roots of racial and economic divisions in the body of Christ and shows how faithfulness to the gospel leads to a reconciled evangelical community and witness.” —William Storrar, director, Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton

“In the wake of the transformations that took place in the last half of the last century, it was impossible for an earlier generation of evangelical intellectuals to ignore the modern world’s, indeed America’s, race problem. But rarely was the lip service paid to the problem translated into careful reflection on theology’s own culpability in forging the racial world in which we live and move and have our being, to say nothing of reimagining theology itself and church life beyond the racial world that Christianity and its theologians had such a significant hand in making. Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church is the breakout book of a new generation of young evangelical intellectuals who are striving not to make the mistake of their theological-evangelical fathers. It should be read.” —J. Kameron Carter, Duke Divinity School

“Paul Metzger has become a catalytic voice in the city of Portland. His passion for the gospel engaging the culture is at the core of his life. Because of that, Paul continues to tackle gospel-centric issues that the church for too long has ignored, been ignorant of, or simply dismissed. This book is one of those great tackles that makes the highlight reel on SportsCenter. With theological depth, cultural understanding, and a prophetic edge, Paul calls us to face one of the key issues threatening the church in the West and educates us on how that may look. This is an important book.” —Rick McKinley, pastor, Imago Dei Community. Portland, Oregon

Consuming Jesus sounds the death knell for a paradigm of church growth driven by the homogeneous unit principle and measured in success by numbers, dollars, and buildings. Metzger writes with personal passion and professional expertise, providing a wealth of insight for practitioners addressing the question If the kingdom of heaven is not segregated, why on earth is the church? His work should be read by everyone desiring to restore the local church to a place of compassionate influence within the community.” —Mark DeYmaz, pastor, Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas

“While articulating a profound critique of major flaws in the American evangelical church, along with affirming his love for the evangelical community, Paul Louis Metzger offers a theological model for overcoming barriers of race and class within the church. As a Native American, I see today the negative effects of the uniquely Americanized ‘consumerist’ version of Christianity that Metzger is unmasking for our reflective examination. . . Metzger asserts that Christians are called to care for the weak, impoverished, marginalized, and oppressed; yet he also argues that we must fundamentally reorient the ways we address people’s plight, dying to a kind of self-serving impetus. He offers another path to address their situation, claiming that Christian faith offers energizing hope . . . The invitation of Consuming Jesus to a life of radical reconciliation inspired and driven by the love of Jesus that overcomes the evil one and restores life-giving power to the whole church resonates with my spirit.” —Richard Twiss, President, Wiconi International

“A compelling, practical, challenging, beautiful model for the church today.” —YouthWorker Journal

“There are so few books that will challenge where we are as a Christian community with sound biblical support. [Metzger’s] theological approach is readable for anyone willing to focus and question concepts that may be unfamiliar. Most importantly, [the ideas and concepts in the book] help me understand and come to know on an ever deepening level the one who is My Savior. At the end of the day that is all one would hope for from a book about the consuming love of Jesus.” —M. Homola (read the full review at Amazon)

“[Consuming Jesus] is a well-sourced, well-written work, that’s very accessible to the average pastor or informed lay leader. This is not a study attempting to jump on the latest emergent band wagon, nor is it a rehash of mid 20th century mainline social gospel concerns. It is a relatively short book that tackles a daunting subject with admirable depth. Check it out and take the plunge. The read is worth the ride.” —S. Mitchell (read the full review at Amazon)

“For the sincere Christian who has often struggled with understanding why the Church today seems so ineffective and irrelevant in our society and without the transformative power that fills the New Testament, this book is for you. It will not speak of new ways to “position” the gospel or of strategic methods of evangelizing the uninterested; instead it will confront you and disarm you as it holds up a mirror to us, the Church, to see just what it is we’ve become as the Bride of Christ in these United States.” —Seda Mansour (read the full review at Amazon)

“I… recommend this book. It is convicting and challenging, but it is hitting on a blind spot that many of us have… It is well worth the time that it will take to read.” —Daniel R. Franklin (read the full review at Amazon)

“I can think of no better way to recommend this or any book than by sharing this with you. I have read this book twice, and I have just begun reading it for the third time. Guess what? I am enjoying Consuming Jesus this third time around as much as I did the very first time I read it! I cannot say this enthusiastically enough: ‘Read this book!'” —Jimi Calhoun (read the full review at Amazon)

“I read Consuming Jesus with great interest to see if the bases were covered on race, class and consumerism in the Church to my satisfaction. So I even read it critically. They were even covered more thoroughly than I expected!” —Curtis May, Director, Office of Reconciliation Ministries (read the full review at Amazon)

“I was recently asked to recommend a book that describes the church as it is meant to be. Though they are being written every day in the evangelical spheres, I could think of none more worthy of a hearty endorsement than Consuming Jesus. Buy it. Read it. Consume it.” —DH (read the full review at Amazon)

“It is not an exaggerated statement to say that this book is a timeless must read.” —Matthew S. Farlow (read the full review at Amazon)

“If someone is known by the company he keeps, Dr. Paul Louis Metzger is an important prophetic voice for and to 21st century Christianity… In the end, Metzger’s book not only critiques the roots and present troubling realities of the American church, but also shows how that church (especially the evangelical branch) can do better. Highly recommended.” —David Sanford (read the full review at Amazon)

Consuming Jesus is one of the most engaging books I’ve read in recent days… Overall, Consuming Jesus is a book I highly recommend. Metzger’s book calls us to rethink the current structures of the church and he offers an “all-consuming” vision of the Kingdom which should work its way out into our local congregations and communities.” —Trevin Wax (read the full review at The Gospel Coalition)

“[Metzger] offers us an excellent book which deserves a wide reading among protestant Christians who are concerned about the state of the church’s unity and mission in our world of global capitalism and its attending veneer of bourgeois consumerism.” —Halden Doerge (read the full review at Inhabitatio Dei or The Other Journal)

“…buy this book. It’s not another waste of shelf space and good money. This is fresh, real and provocative. Take the medicine and be better for it.” —Michael Spencer (read the full review at Internet Monk)

“Overall, Consuming Jesus is an important book, presenting a central idea about race and class divisions that all churches should grapple with. It also offers a promising vision for change.” —Nathan Hobby (read the full review at An Anabaptist in Perth)

“This book will be helpful for leaders and members of predominantly white congregations seeking to become multiracial, particularly churches located in areas with little racial or ethnic diversity… Sunday school classes and small groups will find this book a useful catalyst for discussions about church growth and congregational identity.” —Regina Shands Stoltzfus, adjunct professor, Goshen College (read the full review at the Conrad Grebel Review)

“This book has opened my eyes to the significance of race and class in the church. Metzger shows how these divisions, and apathy in the evangelical church, are rooted in the history of evangelical belief, and that the solution is rooted in a reexamination of Christian theology.” —Alan (read the full review at GoodReads)

“Metzger provides interesting insights into how consumerism, free-market, and the capitalistic attitude of America has affected evangelicalism as keeping us from moving beyond race and class divisions.” —Shawn (read the full review at GoodReads)

“A helpful witness to the need for social engagement on the part of Christian communities. Although addressed specifically to evangelical groups, the same principles apply to other churches as well… this book opens up ways that all churches can move toward partnership in healing racial & class divides.” —Andrew Marr (read the full review at GoodReads)

“A worthy effort and good challenge to some of the problems in the evangelical church.” —Alex Wright (read the full review at GoodReads)

“Some of [Consuming Jesus‘] broad topics really transformed the way I engage in ministry in a broken world.” —Milan Homola (read the full review at GoodReads)

“A sobering and well researched look at how consumerism has caused and/or sustained divisions in the American church.” —Dustin (reviewed at GoodReads)

“[Consuming Jesus] is a book that is good for the church, and I can only pray that the right people read it.” —Adam McInturf (read the full review at Loretta’s Basement)

“This highly prophetic book is recommended to theologians from all persuasions, theological students, lay leaders and all Christians who can read and understand English. Its wealth should be distributed to all the people of God.” —M. J. Manala, University of South Africa (read the full review at HTS Theological Studies)

“…I truly enjoyed this work…and the heart of a man (Metzger) that resonates the love of Christ on most every page… This book reminded me of reading John Perkins. However, Metzger approaches many issues from new angles. I highly recommend this book.” —Bill Dahl (read the full review at his blog)



Related Content

“We tend to look for religion or spirituality that will give us what we want, when we want it. There’s a pressure for the church to be something that the church is not.” – Paul Louis Metzger quoted in The Wall Street Journal‘s piece “The Mystery Worshipper

Consuming Jesus was selected as one of Leadership Journal’s 10 Best Books of 2008.

Consuming Jesus was a nominee for Leadership Journal’s Golden Canon in 2008.

Download a free study guide to use with Consuming Jesus.


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