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Christianity Beyond Belief [Hardcover]

By Hunter Todd (Author)
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Item Number 391882  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   199
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.42" Width: 5.84" Height: 0.83"
Weight:   0.82 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Feb 5, 2009
Publisher   IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN  0830833153  
EAN  9780830833153  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Todd Hunter presents a new paradigm for Christian discipleship that shows how salvation is not just a question of whether we are saved but also a call to progressively grow more like Christ. Hunter's biblical perspective might just change the way you look at life forever.

Publishers Description
You've prayed the sinner's prayer. You know that if you die tonight, you'll go to heaven. But Todd Hunter believes Christianity is a not merely a secure death. Which means that eternal life--abundant life--begins on earth, as soon as we become a follower of Jesus. Drawing from his leadership and ministry experience as president of Alpha USA and from his own study and life experiences as an ordinary Christian, Hunter calls us to reframe our salvation and discipleship to focus on life, instead of just heaven and hell. God's intention, he says, is for us to become God's cooperative friends, seeking to live consistent lives of creative goodness for the sake of others. These pages lead us into this abundant way of living, offering Jesus came that we might have life--not just in heaven, but here on earth where he walked and lived among us. And your friends who are hurting, hopeless or hungry for something real need to see what difference life in Christ makes. This timely, biblical paradigm from Todd Hunter will inspire and equip you to live your days with intention, participating in God's work in the world today. It just might change the way you look at life forever.

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More About Hunter Todd

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Bishop Todd D. Hunter (D.Min., George Fox University) leads Churches for the Sake of Others, a church-planting initiative of the Anglican Mission in the Americas. He is also a teacher, writer and consultant for his ministry, Society for Kingdom Living, which helps pastors and lay leaders reach a generation that has been disenfranchised from the church. Formerly national director at Vineyard Churches USA and then at Alpha USA, Hunter serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of Alpha as well as on a number of other ministry boards, including Renovar? and Soul Survivor.

Todd D. Hunter was born in 1956.

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Believe  May 6, 2010
We've all heard the message, it says that we're sinners separated from God, in desperate need of grace. Thankfully, Jesus came and died and through Him we can have forgiveness and go to heaven when we die, if only we accept him into our hearts. Questions hang in the air, however, why do we stay here? Why the incarnation? What are we saved for? The answer, really, is that this is an anemic view of the gospel (so too, really, is the so called "Social Gospel," but for other reasons). It is these questions, and a deeper view of the gospel, that are addressed in Todd Hunter's Christianity Beyond Belief: Following Jesus for the Sake of Others.

Fundamentally, what Todd develops is a theology of coming to orthodoxy as a result of a life lived in an environment of spiritual formation. Throughout the work, Todd draws heavily on the work of Dallas Willard and N.T. Wright, which naturally sets the theology on very solid ground. He advocates, as any good Christian theology should, the making of disciples who live their lives for the sake of others and thereby usher in the presence of God's Kingdom in the here and now.

Todd also understands the importance of imagination and story in the shaping our lives, and he emphasizes the importance of understanding the true story of the gospel if we are to really live the lives Christ calls us to live. This understanding, coupled with a deep awareness of the love and grace of God, means that Todd firmly avoids the pitfalls of guilt-ridden legalism that believers all too often fall into, but still maintains that there is something more to Christianity than mere intellectual agreement to right doctrine. As he himself has said, "Anything you can do with guilt, you can do better without it."

There were a few places were Todd's theology seemed to come uncomfortably close to that of the emergent church. Really, that's only natural as part of what he's seeking to do is to address the needs of the postmodern generation, which is the same thing the emergent church has sought to do. I think, however, that Todd does it better, because he meets the postmodern where it is, but he does it without losing the anchoring of tradition and orthodoxy.

If I had one complaint about the book, it would be the prevalent use of The Message paraphrase of scripture. I respect Eugene Peterson and the intention behind The Message, but as a writer I find the loss of poetry in that version frustration. This is, however, only and aesthetic complaint and it in no way dampens the important of the message of this book.

Ultimately, Christianity Beyond Belief is a fantastic book that paints a clear, graceful picture of the Gospel and the vibrant promise of life promised by Christ. I recommend that Christians pick up this book and soak in Todd's expression of the vision of the Gospel. Also, at the risk of repeating myself too much, if you're in the Orange County area and looking for a church, I strongly suggest you check out Holy Trinity, the church Todd Hunter is launching in Costa mesa at the end of September.
Willard lite  Dec 27, 2009
This book is hastily written, and somewhat scattershot and abstract, despite its practical intentions. Hunter is, as he tells the reader more than once, not an original thinker. Having read some of his main sources, I can attest that this is so. Much of the book is a quick and dirty presentation of Dallas Willard's understanding of the gospel of the kingdom of God, as expressed in Willard's The Divine Conspiracy. Hunter tries to simply this undstanding of Jesus's message, and provide a sort of memory device for it.

He's smart and has read a lot, and yet there's a kind of California / Vineyard anti-intellectualism between the lines. (Been there myself.) He's just not into doctrine, in any sense. He thinks things through, but isn't into presenting complex material. Perhaps the most interesting parts are the personal anecdotes and his observations about how to gently introduce younger-generation, post-Christian people to the real message of Jesus. He's an experienced church planter and church planter trainer, as well as evangelist, so he's most at home on these topics.

Hunter is keenly aware of the diminishing popularity of traditional church life, but he has nothing to say about church practice or services per se, other than: don't give up. The big practical payoff of the book is supposed to come at the end, where he recommends what he calls TIE (Three Is Enough) groups - sort of accountability, study, and service triads of disciples (or disciples and seekers) which meet weekly.

In sum, there isn't much meat here, if you're familiar with the point that getting saved is about a new kind of life here and now, and not merely gaining heaven and avoiding hell. This book
A Way Forward  Jun 16, 2009
There are many wonderful books about how the whole world, including the church, needs to hear the gospel of Jesus afresh--the good news of the kingdom of God come to earth--and respond to it. But there are very few books that attempt to give some practical and truly helpful wisdom on what such a response could look like for ordinary people who want to move forward. Todd does a fantastic job of both laying out in plain terms what God hopes to accomplish in the world and a faithful, effective way to pursue those hopes with God and one or two like-minded friends.

I'm in my second "three is enough" group now and I fully intend to pursue my own growth and service to others through such groups for the forseeable future. For anyone looking for a thoroughly constructive and simple way to move forward in following Jesus in our day, for and with others, I highly recommend spending time with this book.
Wonderful Book  May 2, 2009
This is a wonderful book by Todd Hunter. As I read it I heard echoes of Dallas Willard & Richard Foster, but the book has a voice of its own. I love Hunter's definition of a disciple: "a cooperative friend of Jesus."
I enjoyed his conversational evangelism style which asks seekers to consider the kind of life they really want to live. The chapter on the Holy Spirit is worth the price of the whole book. There are certain things we Christians believe, but they are worthless unless they are lived out in real lives of service and love to others. A book worthy of all the endorsements it has received.
A call to a larger story  Apr 14, 2009
I did not need to look beyond Todd Hunter's opening acknowledgements to find something that I could appreciate. His broadmindedness was evident (no small thing) in his claim of indebtedness to viewpoints as diverse as Greg Laurie and Chuck Smith on the one side and John Wimber on the other. Along with others, I have had reservations about the latter's teachings, but I see in Hunter's writing a maturity that has drawn from the best of his influences while avoiding the controversial. His gallery of mentors includes Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson and N. T. Wright. If you appreciate their teachings and writings, you will enjoy this book.

In the foreword, Eugene Peterson sets the stage for what is to follow: "Story - the Jesus story, the king story, my story - take priority over information and argument in the way we go about following Jesus." Without denigrating the need for right belief, Hunter emphasizes that Christianity is a way of life. He defines eternal life as "the quality of life derived from and lived within the kingdom of God. It is personal, intimate communion with the Trinity."

Hunter places the doctrines of sin, forgiveness, heaven and hell within the context of humanity (and creation) being restored to fulfill God's purposes. This keeps Christianity from being reduced, as it has been in our day, to just a personal relationship with God. This is a much broader view of salvation than just "inviting Jesus into your heart" and escaping hell. He argues that this makes "the forgiveness of sins the sole plot line."

He sees forgiveness as not the finishing line, but the starting point for "forming a new life, a cooperative friendship with God." This is one of four pivotal phrases that summarize his understanding of what it means to be a Christian. The following four concepts are unpacked in detail:

1. Cooperative friends of Jesus
2. Living in creative goodness
3. For the sake of others
4. Through the power of the Holy Spirit

The goal in all of this is becoming whole so that we can participate with God in his plans for the world. Heaven is our destination, but not the end. The emphasis is on serving God through living for the benefit of others.

Hunter offers practical examples in a spirit of humility. He takes pains to make the work of the Holy Spirit seem natural rather than something that is controversial and spooky. This is a welcome reminder of what a difference the Spirit's help can make.

Much of the book seems to be a response to the alarming decline in church membership, the growing hostility to Christianity, and the growing numbers of people who identify themselves as non-religious. Hunter's thoughts offer a way out of this wilderness. I appreciate his efforts to communicate the Christian faith afresh to an unchurched, post-modern generation. It's not that he is reinventing what it means to be a Christian. He succeeds in turning our attention to truths that have been neglected.

This book effectively makes the case that it's not enough to have right belief. As important as that is, it must be accompanied by right practice. For too long those outside the faith have seen little that attracts them to it. They want to see the difference that Christ makes in our living.

A key to making that a reality and implementing the concepts of this book is what Hunter calls Three Is Enough (TIE) groups. The idea is for a group of three people to bind together for the purpose of creatively doing good for the sake of others. While relying on the leading of the Holy Spirit, group members look for opportunities to serve those around them. It can be as easy as just paying attention to people in our environment and being available, so that God can use us in their lives.

TIE groups have a dual nature. They simultaneously focus "on the inward journey of spiritual transformation and the outward journey of serving others." Hunter provides significant evidence that a group of three is an ideal number. The chapter contains a wealth of practical information and examples on how these groups function.

I was reminded of the need for this type of book in a recent conversation with my sister. She is one of many who identify themselves as Christians but do not affiliate with a church. Having been part of various churches for years, she and her husband can't relate to what many churches have become. It would be easy for me to be right there with her, since churches are often disappointing.

Authenticity is paramount for my sister. I also prize humility. It's what many people inside and outside the church want to see. This book is a helpful step in that direction, and in writing it, the author models both of these qualities. He avoids the controversies that divide the church and provides a vision that every Christian can rally behind. He has a heart to see people become genuine Christ-followers, who participate with God in the larger story of fulfilling his plans.

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