Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church
By Paul Louis Metzger
Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007
Review by Carl McColman
Christianity is a counter-cultural movement, right? Well, you might not think so, based on how the faith plays out in the media and the imagination of many westerners. Sure, conservative Christians are forever on the march against secular and liberal attitudes toward human sexuality. But it seems like, for too many Christians, that’s where Christian resistance to the larger culture begins and ends. Evangelical theologian Paul Metzger takes on the church’s acquiescence to mainstream values in this book, which dares to ask why aren’t Christians “consumed by Jesus” rather than simply aping the consumer mentality of our larger culture? The author points out how some of the largest sins of our society — racism and class divisions that contribute to a cross-generational entrenchment of poverty — are ignored by the church when it emphasizes a private, otherworldly faith. But when the Eucharistic community gathers and truly celebrates Holy Communion, Christ is not only made present to each of us as individuals, but through each of us to one another as community. “By feasting on the body and blood of Christ together in faith and through the Spirit, we go deeper into the reality of our participation in Christ and one another.” Metzger holds up this Eucharistic vision as a prophetic call for a more compassionate church. But it is also, simultaneously, a call to a more mystical church as well.