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I Knew Jesus before He was A Christian
(and I Liked Him Better Then)

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Rubel Shelly

ISBN 978-0-89112-271-5

208 pg


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Asking why Christianity is unattractive to so many people, this book contrasts a revolutionary Jesus who changed the world with a marginalized church that is being ignored by our culture. And it explores how churches can do a better job of representing Jesus to the world.

Has "the church" become a barrier to faith? Is what our culture knows as "the church" a near approximation of Christ's presence in the world? Or does "the church" give a distorted view of Jesus as businessman, showman, huckster, or fraud?

Without abandoning love for the church or forgetting the biblical mandate for its presence in the world, Rubel Shelly explores a model for thinking of church in terms that are more personal than institutional. In doing so, Shelly considers questions important to Christian life and identity, including:

  • Are discipleship and church membership equivalent concepts?
  • Why is Christianity unattractive to so many?
  • How has so much evil been perpetrated in the name of Christ?
  • What is the responsibility of Christ-loving people to the church?
  • Where is the beauty of Christ visible in today's culture?
  • How can my church do a better job representing Jesus to the world?

Rubel Shelly serves as president of Rochester College in Rochester Hills, MI. He is the author or co-author of more than thirty books, including The Jesus Proposal (Leafwood, 2003), The Jesus Community (Leafwood, 2005), and The Names of Jesus (Howard Books, 1999). He ministered for twenty-seven years with the Woodmont Hills Family of God in Nashville, TN. During that time, he has also taught at Lipscomb University, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and Tennessee State University. He holds a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. He and his wife, Myra, have three grown children who have given them nine wonderful grandchildren to love and spoil.

Praise for I Knew Jesus Before He Was a Christian...
And I Liked Him Better Then

"Looking through our political and denominational lenses, it can get pretty hard to see the real Jesus these days. In I Knew Jesus Before He Was a Christian … And I Liked Him Better Then, Rubel Shelly cuts through our biases and shines a light on the real Jesus, the saving Christ whose message of compassion and service changed the world."

--Dave Ramsey
host of "The Dave Ramsey Show" and best-selling author of The Total Money Makeover

"Having 'grown up in the church,' I have experienced the gossip, backstabbing, and downright hateful behavior that 'God's people' can involve themselves in. It is refreshing and challenging to finally see something in print that calls it the way it is. I pray that the words in Rubel's book will find legs."

--Marty Roe
lead singer for Diamond Rio

"Rubel Shelly is right—for too long the church has been in Jesus’ way instead of being a way to Jesus. He is issuing a much needed challenge to the church to make Jesus look beautiful. Expect to be rebuked, challenged, and ultimately encouraged. I was."

--Rick Atchley
Richland Hills Church, Fort Worth, Texas

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