Monday, January 23, 2006

Engagement: The Secret Message of Jesus Part 2

Continuing the review of Brian McLaren's forthcoming book The Secret Message of Jesus...

Chapter 6: The Medium of the Message
This chapter does a really good job of looking at how Jesus primarily taught his message: parables. It's a really interesting examination and plays a little bit back into the idea of why Jesus hid his message some. The idea of Jesus wanting us to both think for ourselves and be dependent on him is a really fascinating idea.

Chapter 7: The Demonstration of the Message
Another interesting chapter on Jesus' miracles. I liked especially the very beginning and then the point that the miracles were not the point of Jesus' message. They were signposts.

Chapter 8: The Scandal of the Message
OK. I thought that I would really like the chapter from its title. I didn't expect it to be on demons. McLaren introduces the idea of transpersonal evil as one explanation of the demons in the Gospels. I think that's an intruiging way to look at it. What I did really like was when McLaren got to the scandal and the upside down nature of the Kingdom, especially this quote:
What if our only hope lies in this impossible paradox: the only way the kingdom of God can be strong in a truly liberating way is through a scandalous, noncoercive kind of weakness; the only way it can be powerful is through astonishing vulnerability, the only way it can live is by dying, the only way it can succeed is by failing?
Chapter 9: You Can't Keep a Secret
I wasn't impressed with this chapter. It was about evangelism, but I didn't think it worked as well as the others.

Chapter 10: Secret Agents of the Kingdom
But I really liked this one. The name of it was a bit cheesy, but the idea behind it is spectactular. The idea being that no matter where we are in our lives (soccer mom, professional, even a lawyer), we can and should be agents of the Kingdom, with our bosses, neighbors, and family. McLaren even agrees with Karl Marx at one point, but I'll leave it for you to read to find out how (p. 85, for those of you with an advanced readers copy).

Chapter 11: The Open Secret
Another great chapter. McLaren takes on the question of why Jesus mentions the Kingdom extremely often, but Paul mentions it very rarely. Basically his point is that Jesus built the Kingdom as the foundation, and Paul was building the building on top of that foundation. I thought it was deftly argued.

Chapter 12: Hiding the Message in New Places
I liked this one, but wasn't overly impressed with it. McLaren did some nice things comparing Jesus and Caesar (Jesus wins, btw), but the rest of the chapter felt weak.

Chapter 13: Getting It, Getting In
Fascinating chapter, really really fascinating. Two very significant parables and this quote:
Faith that counts, then, is not the absence of doubt; it's the presence of action.
It didn't answer all the questions I would like to ask McLaren about his opinions on how to get it (Boy, I'd like to nail him down on what he thinks on some stuff), but he does put it pretty beautifully.

On the whole, I'm still really enjoying the book and really think it's worth a look from people when it comes out in April.


Amy W said...

Wow! What a great blog, Phil! I can't wait to start hitting it on a regular basis!

We are thrilled to be at OC! Great to talk to you, too!


Jennifer Thompson said...

You're really making me want to read this. Which I guess may be why they gave you an advance copy. :)

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