What Jesus Intended: Finding True Faith in the Rubble of Bad Religion, By Todd D. Hunter
What Jesus Intended
  • Length: 200 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: July 18, 2023
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0495
  • ISBN: 9781514004951

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Have you lost your footing in church? Or has the church lost its footing?

Many of us feel unsteady, disoriented, even crushed after an endless string of scandals within the walls of a place meant to offer compassion and safety. Others feel forced to draw back or distance ourselves from the church. All the while, our instincts tell us this is not what Jesus wanted for his people. But what did he intend?

After four decades of ministry, Anglican bishop Todd Hunter is no stranger to betrayal and pain in the church. Still, he has hope. He believes more than ever that Jesus is who the world needs and that Jesus has plans for his followers. In What Jesus Intended, Hunter offers a vision for emerging from the rubble of bad religion and rebuilding faith among a community of sincere believers. By unpacking the purposes of Jesus, we can expose twisted, toxic religion for what it is and embrace the true aims of the gospel.

Come for a fresh hearing of Jesus—one that offers us the healing and goodness we've always longed for.

"In an age like ours, when people and groups claiming to be Christian do not ostensibly appear to look, think, act, or sound like Jesus, there can be nothing more important than the recovery of the absolute centrality of Jesus for the life of the disciple and for the church that claims his name. In this book Todd Hunter does precisely that—he calls us to a recalibration of our lives to our magnificent Founder so that we might be authentic witnesses in a watching world."

Alan Hirsch, author of Reframation and founder of Movement Leaders Collective

"Like a horrific scene from a war zone, we are walking through the rubble of our failed churches. From here Todd Hunter speaks. Refusing to smooth over the grievous sins of the church, Hunter leads us steadfastly on a course to reconstruct our approach to church by going deep with Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, the one constant amid the ruins of failed religion. A gifted thinker, compassionate pastor, and seasoned leader, Hunter guides us through our pain. For all those besieged by the hurts of a failed church, What Jesus Intended arrives at this most crucial of moments to be the balm for our wounded souls."

David Fitch, Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary

"Reading this book feels like having a calm yet vital conversation with a wise friend. Recognizing how bad religion causes traumatic wounds, Todd Hunter does a great job of pointing us to Jesus and faith that heals. Like all books, this one uses words. But coming from Todd, they're not empty. In the thirty-plus years I've known him, he has consistently lived good religion and has shown what he is writing about. That's why I recommend this book, because in it you'll hear Todd's heart of encouragement, and you'll realize that you're not alone on your faith journey."

Brian Doerksen, songwriter and recording artist

"It is easy to turn to tried-and-true slogans and excuses in an era when the church seems to be caught on the shoals of sexual, racial, and cultural failure. 'Aren't we all sinners?' 'There is so much negativity, we just need to be more affirming.' Trite solutions are often the result of a superficial diagnosis. Todd Hunter wisely and with unflinching honesty exposes the legitimate heartache and confusion felt by many who have departed the faith. He invites us, amid our struggle, to reengage the wild, unpredictable, and table-turning Jesus whose kindness can comfort any suspicious and confused heart. This is a profound work of wisdom and love."

Dan B. Allender, professor and founding president of the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology and author of Redeeming Heartache

"With compassion and humility, Bishop Todd Hunter offers a lifeline to the many people who have been hurt in and by the contemporary church, by inviting us to see with fresh eyes the person and mission of Jesus. As it turns out, Christ spoke against the 'bad religion' of his day and invited his original hearers, and us, into his kingdom where questions are welcomed, dignity is restored, and goodness is tangibly evident in our world and among our neighbors. If you're intrigued by Jesus but skeptical of the church, this book suggests you're in the right place."

Katelyn Beaty, author of Celebrities for Jesus: How Personas, Platforms, and Profits Are Hurting the Church

"As I worked my way through this book, I knew I was reading the reflections of someone who has asked the hard questions about the church's problems and come out on the other side more committed to Christ than ever. The word wisdom is bandied about too easily, but that is a good description for what Bishop Hunter has written here. It is a wise reflection on the person, work, and intentions of Jesus."

Esau McCaulley, associate professor of New Testament at Wheaton College and author of Reading While Black, from the foreword

"In this heartening guide, bishop Hunter encourages disillusioned Christians to reconnect with Jesus to make their faith stronger. . . . Hunter skillfully balances biblical analysis, question prompts, and personal anecdotes, and readers will particularly appreciate the transparency about his own spiritual struggles. It’s an empathetic guide to renewed faith."

Publishers Weekly, May 2023

Read an Excerpt


Foreword by Esau McCaulley

1. Am I the Only One Who Thinks This? How the Church Failed Us
2. Can I Find Faith Again? A Fresh Proposal Regarding Jesus
3. I Am Failing to Connect to Faith and Church: Jesus' Self-Identity Is Our Rescue
4. I've Lost the Religious Plot Line: Jesus Knew He Was Living in an Unfolding Story
5. I Feel Pain, Cynicism, and Despair—Where Is Jesus? Jesus' Orientation to the Kingdom of God
6. What About All the Bad Things Done in God's Name? Jesus Taught That Eternal Life Empowers Good Religion
7. Can I Trust the Church to Be an Instrument of Restoration? Jesus Was a Healer
8. How Can I Find Vibrant Faith? Jesus' Teachings Point Us to a New Way of Life
9. Why Is Consistent Spiritual Growth So Difficult? Jesus' Emphasis on the Centrality of the Heart
10. Is There an Authentic Community of Faith? Jesus Intentionally Called and Sent a People
11. Do My Religious Reservations and Churchly Hesitations Disqualify Me? Jesus Walks with Us on a Journey of Doubt



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Todd D. Hunter

Bishop Todd D. Hunter leads Churches for the Sake of Others (C4SO), a diocese of the Anglican Church in North America. He is a past president of Alpha USA and former national director for the Association of Vineyard Churches. His books include Christianity Beyond Belief, The Accidental Anglican, and Deep Peace. Recently, he established The Center for Formation, Justice and Peace. Todd and his wife, Debbie, live in Franklin, Tennessee.