Monday, January 16, 2006

Excavation: The Secret Message of Jesus Part 1

I want to continue my review of Brian McLaren's new book The Secret Message of Jesus, due out in April. I'm about two-thirds the way through the entire book and I'm really enjoying it and finding it valuable in expressing some ideas that I've been working through about the Kingdom. Btw, Adam Ellis is also reviewing the book, and for an alternative perspective on the whole Emergent Movement, check out the EmergentNo blogspot and Slice of Laodicea, among others. As for me, here are my thoughts on Part One: Excavation.

Chapter One: Troubling Questions About Jesus
McLaren here talks a lot about questions that he's had about Jesus' message and his perceptions about how it's been twisted. This part will either really resonate with people, echoing similar questions that they have had with disconnects in the message of the church and the message of Jesus, or people will see these as unncessary questions. This quote at the end of the chapter is one of the most intriguing to me:
Wouldn't it be interesting if the people who started discovering and believing the hidden message of Jesus were people who aren't even identified at Christians, and wouldn't it be tragic if people like myself, identified as Christians, were unwilling to consider the possibility that they have more to learn (and unlearn) about the message of Jesus?
I think McLaren really hits on some touchpoints with this chapter and that it serves as a great jumping off point for people who know there's more in Scripture about Jesus' message, but just aren't sure how to get there.

Chapter Two: The Political Message of Jesus
Loved this chapter. Loved it. It really did a great job of putting Jesus into the political context of his day. I thought McLaren did a superb job summarizing the view of the four major Jewish political movements in Roman Judea: the Sadducees, Zealots, Essenes, and Pharisees, and then counterposing Jesus' message to what they were saying, i.e. how was it possible for Jesus to say that people's righteousness should exceed the Pharisees when the Pharisees were the ones that were the strongest propents of holiness and righteousness, and how could this guy say that when he hung out with tax collectors and prostitutes? I could talk a lot more about this, but will save it for another blogpost.

Chapter Three: The Jewish Message of Jesus
Here, McLaren gives the Jewish prophetic background to what Jesus talks about, particularly in their mindset of a new order coming to Israel, with regard to justice, as well as how that aspect of Jesus' message would have directly set him up against the existing authorities of the day.

Chapter Four: The Revolutionary Message of Jesus
This chapter revists the narrative nature of Scripture that McLaren established in The Story We Find Ourselves In. For someone that's read it, it will be somewhat redundant, but it's also important to think about that narrative nature as we see how Jesus and his message fits into it. And again, McLaren focuses on how that revolutionary nature of Jesus' message would have set him up against the authorities of the day. You'd almost think he's developing a theme and application of Jesus' message for today.

Chapter Five: The Hidden Message
This might be where some people really disagree with McLaren, but I really think he hits on a great point here. Jesus almost seems to hide his message in deliberately using language that people will misinterpret or misunderstand. It was almost like he didn't want people to really get the message itself from what he was teaching. It's like he wanted people to start doing what he said and get the meaning of the message that way.

Like I said, I'm really enjoying the book and McLaren's is offering some great insights into Jesus and his message. Some of it is new, some of it is reinforcing thinkings that I've been having for a while.

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