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Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road? – Quotes »« O Little Town of Bethlehem

Brian McLaren’s Love Peace and Misunderstanding Tour

I recently went to a talk by Brian McLaren launching his book Why Did Jesus, Moses, The Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road?

This was part of the Love Peace and Misunderstanding Tour that he was doing organised by Greenbelt. As well as Brian McLaren speaking it also included a short talk by Malia Bouattia a Muslim post grad from Birmingham University followed by a conversation between the two. There was also some singing by Jasmin Kennedy. The evening concluded with some questions and answers from the audience.

Brian’s McLaren’s talk

Brian McLaren began by explaining that the founders of the major faiths of the world were much more hospitable to those of other faiths than their followers have been:

  • Jesus was known for making respectful contact with those his peers wouldn’t go near. For example he listened to and acknowledged the real faith of the Syrophoenician woman.
  • Mohammed grew up in a multi-faith environment and had relationships with people of other faith. At one point he allowed Christians to pray in his mosque even though some of his followers objected.
  • Moses was a Hebrew brought up in Pharaoh’s household and gained counsel from his father-in-law the high priest of Midian.
  • Buddha was more concerned in finding enlightenment than in taking part in religious conflicts.

Coming from a fundamentalist background, Brian McLaren went on to say, he had been taught hostility towards other faiths that says if you can’t convert someone keep them at arms length. The alternative to this that most people have is a weak identity that implies that our beliefs aren’t important to us. But what he proposes was a strong identity that makes you a good neighbour to those who disagree with you.

It is a popular misconception that our religious differences keep us apart. But actually, McLaren argued, it is building our identity through hostility to others. What the world needs now is solidarity. Our real enemy is the hostility between the groups not the other group per se.

Malia Boulettia

Malia described her feelings of what it was like for a Muslim when someone wants to convert them. She explained how as an Algerian she saw Christianity as part of Imperialism because of colonialism. She said when she went to evangelistic meeting and it felt like the Christians were vultures swooping down on her!

The Q&A

In the question time I asked Brian McLaren about his approach to evangelism. If what we mean by this is sharing the unique gifts of Jesus with people so that they too may experience them he was all for it. His approach to evangelism was telling both our own stories of our walk with Jesus and the stories of Jesus from the Bible. People are interested in stories.

Malia Bouattia commented that one thing that she liked about this book was Brian McLaren’s reservations about the state of affairs in the Church. Brian agreed that an honest open approach to evangelism was the best – sharing your own failings and those of the Church. Though some might not feel comfortable with such an approach I did get his point that it is foolish to cover up the cracks that people are aware of anyway.

What did I think of the evening?

Overall, I liked what Brian McLaren was saying here and I think that a hospitable approach to evangelism with other faiths is a good one. It is much better than one that comes over as hostile or keeps people at arms length unless they convert.

But I would need to read the book to get the full picture of Brian McLaren position. Next week I plan to blog some quotes from the book and follow that up with a review of the book.

In the meantime I recommend reading David Matthew’s review of the book here. He has some interesting reservations that I plan to discuss soon.

January 5, 2013 at 8:22 pm
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