Mustard Seed Books
Kurt Struckmeyer is a writer, theologian, and founder of the Mustard Seed School of Theology.
Over the past five or six years, Kurt has been working to expand the ideas and themes expressed in this website with a focus on the future of faith, theology, and the church in a postmodern world. The result was a lengthy manuscript of over 230,00 words. Wipf and Stock publishers liked the material, but suggested that he subdivide his proposal into several smaller volumes with different emphases. Three new manuscripts resulted.
The first of these three books—A Conspiracy of Love: Following Jesus in a Postmodern World—was released in February 2016. The second—An Unorthodox Faith: a New Reformation for a Postmodern World—was released in February 2017. The third—People of the Way: Passion and Resistance in a Postmodern World—will be available early in 2018.
These books are for a new generation of people who seek to follow the Way of Jesus, describing a new way of being Christian, a new kind of theology and ethics, and a new path for an engaged community of followers. Yet, in reality, they represent nothing new at all. These books simply describe the radical way of Jesus that has always been at the heart of Christianity.
A Conspiracy of Love
A “conspiracy of love” is Kurt’s new metaphor for Jesus’ term “the kingdom of God.” It combines Brian McLaren’s contemporary metaphors of the dream of God (the vision), the revolution of God (the activity), and the network of God (the people). The “conspiracy of love” is the subversive activity of a people focused on Jesus’ vision of a better world—a world governed by love and compassion for people at the bottom and margins of society—and who invest their lives in seeing a just and peaceful society become a reality one small step at a time.
Here is the description of the book on the back cover:
Before there were worshippers of Jesus, there were followers of Jesus. Before there were organized churches with creeds and doctrines, there were small communities of love, equality, and sharing dedicated to the practice of Jesus’ teachings and committed to a wholly new way of living.
Today, the churches of the Global North are in decline and younger generations no longer seek meaning there. Traditional “church Christianity” is gradually giving way to some new way of faithful living. From a Nazi prison cell, German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer imagined a future “religionless Christianity” consisting of contemplative prayer and righteous action in the secular world.
A Conspiracy of Love presents the contours of such a faith based on the “way” of Jesus. It calls us to become troublemakers, revolutionaries, seekers of change, and agents of transformation engaged in conspiracies of love to establish justice and peace in a postmodern world. It offers many different people–those who remain in the church, those who have left, and those who have never ventured near–with a life of faith that is meaningful, intelligent, and passionate.
A Conspiracy of Love can be purchased at a 20% discount ($24.00 USD) from the publisher Wipf and Stock and at the list price ($30.00 USD) from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. eBook versions are available for the Kindle ($9.99 USD), for the Nook ($10.49 USD), and at Google Play Books ($16.50 USD).
Please buy a copy, read it, take a moment to rate it and review it, particularly on Amazon, and then tell your friends. Consider it as a book to discuss with a small group of friends or in a small-group church setting.
An Unorthodox Faith
The second volume is titled An Unorthodox Faith: a New Reformation for a Postmodern World. It proposes an alternative to traditional Christian creeds and theology with a simpler humanist theology of love and compassion. It explores the implications for faith and ethics based on the proposition that “God is love”—not a loving supernatural being, but, more radically, frail human love itself. The book deconstructs traditional images of God as cosmic creator and occasional interventionist, the apocalyptic image of Christ, the image of the Holy Spirit as a supernatural being, medieval images of heaven and hell, ancient doctrines of sin and atonement, and contemporary beliefs in resurrection and eternal life. When all of these concepts are removed from traditional Christianity, what remains is a deeply spiritual humanism of service and social action—a way of living that reflects the words and deeds of the historical Jesus.
Here is the core of the postmodern theology that I propose:
Alternatively, this book will present a simple postmodern theology that presents God as a symbolic personification of human love; Jesus as a teacher of radical compassion and an outspoken agent of social justice; the kingdom of God as a “conspiracy of love” that challenges the unjust systems of the world; the Way of Jesus as a journey of transformation from cultural captivity to a counter-cultural life of activism and service; the cross as a symbol of the consequences of defying the authority and power of the domination system; and the resurrection of Jesus as the epiphany of his ongoing spirit and presence in a vision, in a voice, or in the face of a stranger.
Here is the description that appears on the back cover:
The time is ripe for a new Christian reformation—a profound transformation of theological substance, not just liturgical style. Jesus never intended to create a new religion of rites, rituals, and dogma that offered an eternal reward in heaven. Instead Jesus announced the subversive arrival of the kingdom of God—a social and economic revolution of the heart based on a lifestyle of radical love, lavish generosity, extravagant forgiveness, inclusive hospitality, compassionate action, selfless service, a passion for justice, creative nonviolence, and simple living. He invited his followers to transform their lives and change the world.
A postmodern Christianity will call people to engage in the Jesus revolution—a conspiracy of love that rises up against the unjust systems of the world through everyday acts of compassion and resistance. An Unorthodox Faith provides a framework for a renewed faith based on the Way of Jesus—a way of living authentically and humanely for the sake of others. It offers many different people—those who remain in the church, those who have left, and those who have never ventured near—with a life of faith that is meaningful, intelligent, and passionate.
An Unorthodox Faith can be purchased at a 20% discount ($25.60 USD) from the publisher Wipf and Stock and within several weeks will be available at the list price ($32.00 USD) from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. eBook versions should be available within three months for the Kindle ($9.99 USD), for the Nook ($10.49 USD), and at Google Play Books ($16.50 USD).
People of the Way
The third book is about the future of the church or its successor communities. People of the Way: Passion and Resistance in a Postmodern World assesses the decline of the church in Western society as a result of the direction the church took in the fourth century under the Emperor Constantine. The collusion of church and state, called “Christendom,” flourished through the Middle Ages but is now rapidly falling apart. In the process, the church became a voice for maintaining the status quo, often aligning with economic elites and giving unquestioning support to military actions. Over the centuries, it has become a church that proclaims a gospel “about” Jesus rather than the gospel “of” Jesus. If it is to recover the authentic gospel “of” Jesus—with the conspiracy of love at its center—the church must return to its earliest roots and once again become communities of charity, service, justice, nonviolence, peacemaking, and inclusion. The book proposes that regardless of what happens to the traditional church, alternative forms of following Jesus will arise, becoming “communities of conspiracy” that engage the suffering of the world and unjust systems with renewed passion, zeal, and courage.
People of the Way should be available in early 2018.
Here is a proposed draft for the back cover:
In first-century Palestine, the countercultural Jesus movement defied the social norms of the Roman Empire by creating alternative communities of shared life and goods in service to the poor. Jesus proclaimed an alternative society that challenged systems of male domination, social inequality, economic disparity, and violence. He espoused a lifestyle of radical love, lavish generosity, extravagant forgiveness, inclusive hospitality, compassionate action, selfless service, a passion for justice, creative nonviolence, and simple living. This way of life defined Christianity for three hundred years until the emperor Constantine invited the church to help rule an empire. The imperial church became invested in wealth and power, and for the first time Christians went to war. As Christianity became a chaplain to the status quo, its countercultural lifestyle was exchanged for a dogmatic belief system.
In the postmodern world, Christianity has lost its political and societal influence. Having relinquished its once prophetic voice, the church is increasingly impotent in the face of evil and injustice. This book is a call to return to the countercultural Way of Jesus. It proposes a way forward through the creation of new communities of resistance—small cells of cultural nonconformity that conspire for justice and strive for peace.
Kurt Struckmeyer may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.