The Mustard Seed Conspiracy

A subversive, even dangerous, book that could ruin the way we do church.

Gary E. Russell, Dowagiac, Michigan.

This is a dangerous book. It's subversive, and if too many people read it, it will ruin the way we do church.

Sine's premise is that God chooses to change our world not through earth quakes, wind, and fire of large institutions or massive church programs, but through the still small voice of His Spirit working on the hearts of individual Christians who willingly fol low wherever He leads.

Written in 1981, it appears at first to be dated. Some predictions made early on (particularly those dealing with the economy) have not come to pass because the author could not fore see the tremendous change in the world's balance of power that took place within the past few years. Be cause of this, the reader is tempted to lay the book aside, believing it is irrelevant. Go ahead and do that if you are among those wanting to keep things the way they are. On the other hand, if you tend to be subversive and enjoy upsetting the status quo, I urge you to read on.

Throughout the book Sine calls Christians of North America to reject what he terms American "civil religion" the idea that "economic and political progress would inevitably result in moral progress for the whole society." In this "American religion" the autonomous individual, not God, sits at the center of the new order and the new faith. This "religion" has developed to the point, Sine argues, that God's primary function is "insuring that American Christians have a life free from inconvenience that they never have to drive around the block twice or sharpen a pencil." And this while children are starving elsewhere. Sine calls for us to realize that the American party is over.

More than half the book is devoted to sharing stories of Christians who take the challenge of Christ seriously. Examples are given of Christians who find ways to "downsize" their lives to free more time, money, and resources for the "invasion of this earth by [His] kingdom." We are called, Sine says, to model together the right-side-up values of Jesus, even when that means going against the values of the dominant culture."

Taken seriously, this book would drastically change us and help us over come our "edifice complex" and our desire for praise and adoration. It would help us realize that "God is not looking for armies of outstanding Christian leaders. He is just looking for a few ordinary Christians, a few mustard seeds."

From the perspective of business as usual in our contemporary Christian worldview, this book is nearly as subversive as one with a much older copyright date, one we call the Bible.

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Gary E. Russell, Dowagiac, Michigan.

March 1995

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