I have read a lot of Brian McLaren books.  Pre-Seminary has was a go to thinker and writer for me.  I use him as a resource now – I hand out his books to lots of people.  In the past year I have led two long-term studies through A New Kind of Christianity and Naked Spirituality at my church. 

I’m almost done with his newest book Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World  and I am pretty comfortable saying 3 things about the book:

1. It is his best book so far. For a long time I treasured The Secret Message of Jesus. In that book McLaren had collected in one place an amazing set of insights and background information as well as putting forward a proposal for thinking about and interpreting the Gospel texts.

With Everything Must Change Mclaren turned a corner. He began to address contemporary issues that were not just about ministry or Bible issues. His scope changed to global and political matters that mattered. Until now, I have always said that Everything was his best book.

I appreciate the spirituality stuff of Naked and the mega-concepts of New Kind of Christianity. What he does in Why Did Jesus?  is even bigger (and better) than Everything.

Because of who Brian is and what he has done, he has been invited to participate in some gatherings and activities that are now informing his perspective and writing. The voice that he writes Why Did Jesus? with is huge. His examples are significant and conclusions are of consequence.

2. While the title is a great title, it may have been better on a different book. This isn’t really a book that has much do with Mohammed, Buddha or any other historical figure. It is not a book about inter-religious dialogue per se. It is not a work of comparative religion.

Perhaps a better title would have been “Thoughts on being a great kind of Christian in a world where Christianity isn’t the only religion.”  Or even – as Randy Woodley’s bumper sticker says – ‘When Jesus said to love your enemy – he probably meant ‘Don’t Kill Them.’ 

It’s a great book and I get the opening joke. I just hope people aren’t expecting a different  kind of subject matter. It might feel like false advertising.

3. Brian has continued to advance as a researcher, theologian, and thinker. The last two thirds  of the book is a series of constructive proposals about traditional doctrines might be revisited in order to make us more generous as a community while allowing us to be equally as faithful individuals. He covers everything from christology to the doctrine of the trinity – baptism to liturgy – in a masterful way. As an emerging theologian I could not have been more impressed with his project.

My three favorite parts are :

  • When he walks us from Constantine to Columbus. Ouch. 
  • When he talks about humanity being related to God – or how we relate to God. Could not have been more impressed. 
  • How he interacts with the work of Rene Girard without it feeling like ‘Hey I found this really cool new thing that solves all our problems and now it is all I’m going to talk about.’  He works it into the meal without making it the main course. 

I would be interested to hear from you.
Have you read the book? 
What did you think?
How does it compare to McLaren’s other works?

You can also listen to the book on Audio – read by the author! – as you jog, drive or work out.

In case you missed our latest sit-down with Brian from the Wild Goose West Festival last Summer.