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What's Consuming You?

8/17/2007

A new book, "Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church" by Multnomah Biblical Seminary's Dr. Paul Louis Metzger will be available in fall 2007. Dr. Metzger's third book addresses the issue of how consumerism fosters race and class divisions in the evangelical Christian church.

"We are immersed in a culture where people often strive to get what they want, when they want it, and at the least cost to themselves," Dr. Metzger said. "Consumerism consumes us.  Consumerism trains us--even in the church--to cater to the law that birds of a certain socio-economic and racial feather flock together."

"In contrast to our consumerist impulses, being consumed by Jesus reorients us so that we can clearly see him and clearly sense his call in our lives," Dr. Metzger said. "Jesus' all-consuming vision and prayer recorded in John 17 to remove divisions (including those of race and class) and make us all one, as he and the Father are one, should consume us."  

"‘Consuming Jesus' is a powerful book. But it is more than a book," Dr. John M. Perkins stated in the afterword of the book. "‘Consuming Jesus' helps us see why it is that we evangelicals often don't see the race and class problems before our eyes in our churches and society."

Dr. Perkins is the founder of the John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation & Development, located in West Jackson, Mississippi. The foundation's purpose is to encourage and develop leaders and resources to further the vision of holistic Christian community development and racial reconciliation. Dr. Perkins and his work have played an important part in motivating Dr. Metzger to write this book.

Other factors have also contributed to the birth of "Consuming Jesus." Besides being consumed more and more by Jesus, experiences such as living on a Native American reservation for part of one summer during his college years, seeing life through the eyes of his Japanese wife and multi-ethnic and multi-cultural friends, having grown up in the Chicago-land area and observing historic race and class tensions, and living overseas in Japan and England have made him passionate about challenging race and class divisions in a consumer church.

"Intuiting the evangelical Christian sub-culture's struggle with secular consumerism and witnessing the pervasiveness of other-worldly spirituality in many evangelical communities have also shaped the development of the book," Dr. Metzger said.

"[The book] 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. Perkins stated.

Dr. Metzger began researching his project in 2003. He started writing the majority of the book during his sabbatical in 2004 at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey. Since then, he has been revising and editing the book.

"It has been a very long, strenuous, and heart-changing journey, but one that has been very much worth it," Dr. Metzger said.

Dr. Metzger is the professor of Christian theology and theology of culture at Multnomah Biblical Seminary and founder-director of The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins. His other works include "The Word of Christ and the World of Culture," "Trinitarian Soundings in Systematic Theology," and the New Wine, New Wineskins' bi-annual journal Cultural Encounters.

For more information about "Consuming Jesus," contact Michael Thomson from Eerdmans Publishing Company at 800.253.7506 or mthomson@eerdmans.com.