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 of 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 of 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 of Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas
Consuming Jesus is a powerful book. But it is more than a book. It has the potential to serve as a catalyst for a movement whereby the evangelical community repents of its consumerist heart and practices and responds to God’s all-consuming love to tackle the pressing race and class problems in the church and broader culture today. It has been a long time coming.
— Dr. John M. Perkins – Founder of the John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation and Development, Co-Founder of the Christian Community Development Association
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 Dr. Metzger is unmasking for our reflective examination. I watch as missionary groups come to our reservations loaded with used clothes, good intentions, and notions of improving our way of life by providing us with stuff to make us happy. Rarely is their concern for the true issues of the kingdom: friendship and relationship with us, out of which authentic ministry partnership occurs.
Metzger speaks to this dilemma facing our Native American community: “While evangelicals talk incessantly about personal relationships, we often reduce the relational framework and relationalism to ‘my kind of people,’ which is void of any of Jesus’ concern for the neighbor.” When the dominant church culture does reach out to us, it’s often from the standpoint of giving out charity, not building community. So, after four hundred years, we remain the “perpetual mission field” for the majority culture American church; we are Natives – “those people” – needing civilization, assimilation, and remolding in view of an American consumerist lifestyle; they call this “social uplift.”
Metzger asserts that we 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 that mobilizes the church to become downwardly mobile to partner with the downtrodden to take action and do something together with them about their oppressive circumstances.
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 – Rosebud Lakota/Sioux Tribe, President Wiconi International, Author One Church, Many Tribes