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Why Did Jesus, Moses, The Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road? – A review »« Brian McLaren’s Love Peace and Misunderstanding Tour

Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road? – Quotes

jesus cross the roadHere are some quotes from Brian McLaren’s book that I promised last week. The book goes into more detail and covers more controversial ideas than his talk did. I’ll give you my thoughts about them next week as I review the book.

I have sought to faithfully represent McLaren’s meanings as clearly as possible. I have included the chapter numbers for references.

How do we, as Christians, faithfully affirm the uniqueness and universality of Christ without turning that belief into an insult or a weapon? (2)

One: The Crisis of Christian Identity

Shouldn’t it be possible to have a strong Christian identity that is strongly benevolent towards people of other faiths, accepting them not in spite of the religion that they love, but with the religion they love? (3)

A new kind of Christian identity… [is] characterised by strong benevolence, generosity and hospitality towards others, not hostility on one hand and not mere ‘niceness’ or ‘tolerance’ on the other. (5)

The tensions between our conflicted religions arise not from our differences, but from one thing we all hold in common: an oppositional religious identity that derives strength from hostility. (7)

Hostility: I see other faiths as wrong, false or evil, and I maintain a posture of opposition to all faiths but the Christian faith….

Solidarity: My understanding of Jesus and his message leads me to see each faith, including my own, as having its own history, value, strengths and weaknesses. I seek to affirm and celebrate all that is good in each faith, and I build intentional relationships of mutual sharing and respectful collaboration with people of all faiths, so all faiths can keep growing and contributing to God’s will being done on earth as in heaven. (8)

A forty year old Arabian nearly three centuries after Constantine had a series of visions that convinced him that there are not many gods, as his countrymen believed, but only one. God was calling him to bring this revelation to all his fellow Arabs and to the whole world. What was he to do? …When we situate Mohammed in this way, just outside the borders of a powerful so-called Christian empire that claimed divine authority to conquer under the sign of the cross, I trust we can interpret Mohammed’s choices and convictions in a more sympathetic light. (11)

Two: The Doctrinal Challenge

So what is a proper understanding of original sin? It is the crisis of identity that emerges as we reject our original God given name… our original identity as soil creatively organised into ‘the image of God’ within the original harmony and hospitality of creation…. The popular understanding of original sin promotes a dualistic, judgemental, accusatory mindset that breeds hostility and rivalry…. A better understanding exposes hostility and rivalry and so prepares the way for us to rediscover a strong benevolent Christian identity. (13)

The holy fire of God can only consume evil things. And since human beings bare the image of God, their humanity can never be considered an evil thing… (28)

If indeed the Holy Spirit is… active in all creation, not just the church… then we would expect the Holy Spirit to be moving people in each religion to offer their good gifts to others, and to receive the good gifts offered by others. (17)

Three: The Liturgical Challenge

[Derek Flood observes] Paul edits quotations of Psalm 18:41-49 and Deuteronomy 32:43 in Romans 15:8-10. The language of divine mercy and promise is retained. The language of violence and vengeance is gone…. [And in] Romans 3:10-18 Paul is making a very different point from the original intent of these Psalms. In fact, he is making the opposite point – we should not cry out for God’s wrath and judgement because we are all sinners in need of mercy. ‘It is an artful and deliberate reshaping of these verses… from their original cry for divine violence into a confession of universal culpability that highlights our need for mercy.’ (22)

The problematic dimensions of the doctrine [of penal substitution] nudged me to be more at home with Celtic, Franciscan, Anabaptist, Quaker, Eastern Orthodox, Liberationist and other perspectives that proclaim the gospel (and celebrate the Eucharist) with little or no reference to this atonement theory. (23)

Four: The Missional Challenge

So do you have a Sikh neighbour, a Hindu co-worker, a Muslim business associate, a Buddhist member of your PTA, a New Age second cousin? Invite them into companionship over a cup of tea or coffee. Ask them questions. Display unexpected interest in them, their traditions, their beliefs, their stories…. Enter their world, and welcome them into your world, without judgement. (24)

Mission work like this will always involve charity… Community organisers working for the common good must often stand in solidarity with people of other faiths. So we who follow Jesus will discover our true identity… by going out of our way to serve Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews or atheists… also by serving alongside them. (25)

Christian identity involves both witness – graciously and confidently sharing our unique, Christ centred message, and with-ness – experiencing solidarity with people of other faiths worshiping in one another’s presence and working together for the common good. (26)

What did Jesus mean by the term the Kingdom of God? Surely he meant something far bigger than any religion should or could contain. The commonwealth of God… contains all of humanity with all our languages, and cultures – and religions. We anticipate… a ‘marvellous convergence’, and our anticipation inspires participation. (27)

Old evangelism- evangelism as we knew it – was… an unwitting accomplice in the story of European colonialism and empire… In generosity we freely share our treasures with people of other faiths, without requiring them to convert… We invite people to… discover a God… who seeks to bring all things into joyous reconciliation… leading to a conversion so deep it fills with new meaning old, spent, clichéd terms like born again, saved, converted, confirmed, baptised or catechised. (28)

January 15, 2013 at 6:00 pm
1 comment »
  • February 5, 2013 at 2:47 pmScott

    Hi Dave –

    These are all very good quotes to give us a sense of what McLaren is getting at. My ‘review’ of the book will come up tomorrow on my blog. I’ve done a more overall approach in examining the book, also offering my own perspective. I’ll leave a link to you articles. Blessings!

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