Monday, November 26, 2007

The Upside Down Kingdom

Don't let the recent phenomenon of The Da Vinci Code color your interpretation of the title of this book. Brian McLaren's, "The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything," is no fanciful creation of a conspiracy junkie, but a revolutionary exploration of the radical teachings of Jesus and the contexts in which they originally emerged: socially, religiously, politically, and historically and what it means for us today.

McLaren examines how the church throughout history has defended itself against the teachings of Jesus...keeping them at arms length, constructing practical qualifiers and rationalizations to tame the wildness of His message, control its controversial core, neutralize its radical nature and implications, and to "wisen up" its foolishness.

This book explores the multi-dimensional content, contexts, and crux of Jesus' message ("The Kingdom of God is at hand..."), the style in which the message was delivered, and what that message means for our beliefs and strategies for evangelism, social reform, politics, war, church, eschatology, epistemology, and relationships.

Chapter 17: "The Peaceable Kingdom of God" was an absolute Godsend for me because it dealt with the topics of violence and war. I severely wrestle with the validity of war for a Christian, so it was extremely beneficial to explore the various perspectives adhered to throughout our 2,000 year history of faith and the biblical interpretations those perspectives arose from.

I was thoroughly challenged by this book and it's commitment to rediscovering the heart of Jesus' message and finding ways to truly live it out. I HIGHLY recommend this book, especially for group settings, such as book clubs, bible studies or home groups. You may not agree with everything, but you will be forced to reexamine your assumptions and preconceived notions, dig deeper into the scriptures, challenge the prevailing values of the status quo, and ponder the ways in which we are called to live and BUILD Jesus' upside-down kingdom.

15 comments:

Tilly Hester said...

Brian McLaren has a way about him that is so compelling, yet filled with humility and grace. It is very easy to receive from him.

Vicky said...

There is no "secret message" of Jesus. It's written in black and white, with perfect clarity in the bible, that is the same forever-in meaning, time, culture. There is no secret.

catrina said...

Alright how do you read so fast, and get your schoolwork done. I am almost finished with the other book, so in a few weeks I will want to read this one, mainly because of the curiosity factor.

Tia Lynn said...

Yay! I was hoping you would want to read this book-I actually think it would be an interesting book to do as a home-group, after we get through the sweater-vest lectures. :)

Umm..I guess I just read a lot, not so much fast. I read late into the night and at work when its slow. Plus this semester hasn’t been all that demanding, I get most of work done at school in between classes. Next semester is going to be a nightmare, so I probably won’t have any time for fun reading! (((sigh))).

Vicky, I’m glad you have all the answers to bible, must be nice. Don’t mind the rest of us dimwits still trying to figure it out.

Anonymous said...

epistemology to his theology, McLaren suggests on pp.80-81 of More Ready Than You Realize, that new Christian converts should remain within their specific contexts.

I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish contexts … rather than resolving the paradox via pronouncements on the eternal destiny of people more convinced by or loyal to other religions than ours, we simply move on … To help Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, and everyone else experience life to the full in the way of Jesus (while learning it better myself), I would gladly become one of them (whoever they are), to whatever degree I can, to embrace them, to join them, to enter into their world without judgment but with saving love as mine has been entered by the Lord (A Generous Orthodoxy, 260, 262, 264).

Tia Lynn said...

I think, THINK, that Mclaren is referring to that ugly habit we western Christians have of destroying foreign cultures by forcing our western culture upon them once they become followers of Jesus. We have a LONG history of doing this. Paul says to be all things to all people, not make people look, think, and act like us (culturally) before we give them our stamp of a approval. So if a muslim, jew, or buddhist, becomes a follower of Jesus, it might be wiser to allow them to remain and operate within their specific cultures as they follow the way of Jesus. I’ll have to reread those passages in context, but I think that is what he is referring to.

vicky said...

Umm...that “ugly habit” we westerners have of converting foreign cultures to our culture as well as the only true religion, is because westerners civilized themselves centuries ago, and therefore had to tame the stubborn savage cultures that refuse to improve themselves. If all cultures adopted western culture, the world would be a better place.

from Christy Fritz said...

i never knew the west was best...WOW!
i read a good analogy on a native american sight recently.
it basically said...some (not all) forms of worship can be redeemed in christ.
take a american driven business person who is lorded over by the god of money...
then one becomes a christian...do we INSIST this person quit their job in big corporate america immediately and change their cultural practices of work and lifestyle. do we say you can no longer go to your corner office house of worship, where you worshipped the god of money?
or can that person remain, and be redeemed in that place as he is made a new creation.
i don't think money is a much different god that any other religious figure or religion, we may feel competes with jesus and chritianity. it was an interesting perspective, and one that several missionaries i remember as a child, shared with me . i know some who became just as the people, actually some who gave up their US citizenship, because they preferred the ways of those they had been sent to "save". they actually had been given more than they could have ever imagined, by not forcing their own cultural expectations on a people group. he sees none of the things we do...race, gender, and i don't even think religion. just our hearts...and only he truly knows each person's heart condition.

Tia Lynn said...

Oh Vicky, it's that kind of arrogant attitude that make people hate Westerners. There is good and bad in EVERY culture, including ours. And as far westerners civilizing themselves and "taming savages" is load of crap. Just because we westerners had buckles on our shoes and hats while we slaughtered "savage" indians, doesn't make us more civilized. We westerners have committed our share of savage acts. Violence masked in sophistication is still savage.

Joe said...

I have to say that I adamantly disagree with that quote by McLaren ( among a million other things he has said). It is quotes like that that people have issues with regarding Emergents. It is impossible to follow Jesus and remain in those other religions as well because they contradict the words of Jesus and everything that following Him is about.

Tia Lynn said...

Again, I think Mclaren is talking about culture...obviously, people who follow Jesus and believe Him to be His savior, won't worship other gods or partake in activities that are contradictory to the teachings of jesus...but remaining and operating within their cultures is something entirely different.

Anonymous said...

I do not think westerns need to be living in the same "culture" after believing on the name of Jesus. Maybe that sounds real revolutionary or 'wacky' but we are to reject the things of this world. We have Heavenly citizenship and should align ourselves to the culture of the Kingdom of God.

Tia Lynn said...

I agree anonymous, we do need to bring the culture of the kingdom of God. But that looks different for everyone. We need to be in the world and not of the world. There are beautiful aspects to parts of our culture. We can still operate within our specific cultures and reject the things of the world.

April said...

I read this book and thought it was ok -- not really revolutionary to me, but in a lot of the mainline church, we've been dealing with historical Jesus things for a long time.

What I really liked was his basic assertion that knowing Jesus changes all facets of one's life, especially how we use money, exist as a world citizen, treat others, etc. I love how he suggests that personal salvation is lived out and it is in the living out that relationship with Jesus is deepened.

Also -- Tia-- have you "met" Molly of Adventures in Mercy? Right now she's into a parenting series, but she's got some GREAT stuff that you would like to chew on, I think.

Tia Lynn said...

Thanks for the recommendation, I will check her out.

I hear ya about the book, yet there is something SO revolutionary in the simplicity of the message, because it is so contrary to mainstream american christianity.....