Thursday, January 19, 2006

"The Secret Message of Jesus" Part 2: Review

To be totally honest with you, I keep thinking "This is the book I wish I had written." Let's get in to section 2:

Part 2 is called "Engagement: Grappling With The Meaning of Jesus's Message"

Chapter 6 explores "The Medium of the Message". In this chapter, McLaren examines Jesus use of "parable". What could possibly be the benefit of trying to advance this radical message in short, seemingly irreligious stories? He also takes a closer look at the string of parables found in Matthew 13. I really appreciated Brian's insight in this chapter. I think his background in Literature really pays off here.

Chapter 7 is titled "The Demonstration of the Message". Here McLaren tackles the subject of Miracles. Why did Jesus perform them? Did it have anything to do with his message? McLaren also looks at worldviews here. Did God just set the world in motion, to run on its own...and are miracles when he reaches in from a distance and "fiddles with the gears"? Is there another way to look at miracles other than when a generally uninvolved God decides to intervene?

Chapter 8 deals with "The Scandal of the Message". What were/are the powers and principalities that Jesus was trying to overturn. How does his message combat them. Demons, possession and the like also get some discussion in this compelling chapter. McLaren actually tries to find some common ground for people who believe in literal demons and those who don't. It is a very interesting and compelling take on the subject.

In Chapter 9, McLaren explains that "You Can't Keep a Secret". Here, he tackles "The Great Commission". He even integrates the differently worded versions of it from the different gospel writers into a single paraphrased account. What exactly was the mission that Jesus laid out for his followers. Over the years, have we begun to miss the point of it?

I loved chapter 10. It's called "Secret Agents of the Kingdom". McLaren says, "Too often, when the story of the movement of Jesus is told, most of the focus is on the religious professionals. But what if their role is at best minor? What if the real difference is made in the world not by us preachers, but by those who endure our preaching, those who quietly live out the secret message of the kingdom of God in their daily, workaday likes in the laboratory, classroom, office, cockpit, parliament, kitchen, market, factory, and neighborhood?" This chapter is positively inspirational. I admit I wiped a couple of tears.

Chapter 11 is called "The Open Secret". In this brief chapter, McLaren deconstructs the argument of Christianity v/s Paulianity that is being promoted by some these days. He points out many of the places where Paul overtly speaks of "the Kingdom" (Jesus central message), and then discusses why Paul doesn't just repeat the ideas that Jesus taught and uses different terminology. He also talks a good bit about "inclusion" here.

In Chapter 12, McLaren talks about "Hiding the Message in New Places". He explores how Paul found new ways to communicate the message of Jesus, like subverting Caesar's political propaganda and putting Jesus in Caesar's place. Again, the I am reminded of the work of N.T. Wright, though, as before, it is presented here in a much more accessible form. Brian also points out that while Paul doesn't use parables, he does use stories, including his own to spread the message.

Chapter 13 was a surprise to me. He titles it "getting it, Getting in". Here, McLaren delivers a beautifully fresh take on "the Plan of Salvation", (yes, that plan of salvation). I really can't describe to you how I felt when I read this chapter. "Hope" I guess gets closest to what I felt.

I love this book. I can't wait for it to be released. People need to read this.
I'll finish with my review of Section 3 (hopefully) next Thursday.
AE

1 comment:

WES ELLIS said...

Wow!
I love your blog and I love Brian Mclaren. You do a great job bringing out his insights for us. I will definately be buying this book! And reading your blog from Now on.
-Wes