Monday, January 30, 2006

Imagination: The Secret Message of Jesus Part 3

I have actually finished the book (and started another one), so I'll talk about Part 3 this week and do a closure thing with the Appendicies next week.

Chapter 14 Kingdom Manifesto
I really enjoyed this chapter as the beginning of this section. He really takes a hard look at the Sermon on the Mount. I thought he looked at some really interesting things. He did a great quote from Dallas Willard about the "cutting off the hand" passage from the Sermon and offered an interesting paraphrase that included the following quote:
Or if someone forces you to carry his pack a mile-which a Roman soldier could do to any Jew-by willingly taking the pack the second mile, you show yourself a generous human being, strong, self-controlled, dignified, not dominated. The first mile may be forced, but the second mile, you walk free-transcending your oppression. The way to transcend a corrupt system is through generosity-giving, not holding back.
Chapter 15 Kingdom Ethics
Wow, just another great chapter. McLaren's meditation on the control money, sex, and power can hold over us was another one of those reaffirming things of ideas I had heard before. But he also talks about how we as followers of Jesus HAVE to lay all those things down.

Chpater 16 The Language of the Kingdom
Now this one I wasn't as sure of. In it, McLaren talks about different language/terminology for the Kingdom, because people in our Western world don't relate to the idea of "Kingdom" as well as they would have in Jesus' day. He suggests the following ideas: the Dream of God, the Revolution of God (I'm more partial to this one, but I don't like it very much), the Mission of God, the Party of God, the Network of God (???), the Dance of God. I really don't like any of those very much, and maybe Kingdom doesn't capture the whole ideology, but it really works to talk about the reign of God.

Chapter 17 The Peaceable Kingdom
Really fine chapter here. It discusses pacifism and just war theory and how do we as followers of Jesus respond to cultural violence. He also writes a great section on the turning of the torture and violence of the Crucifixion into a repudiation of violence. Just a great job on that one.

Chapter 18 The Borders of the Kingdom
This chapter on one hand really attracted me and on the other really made me question what McLaren was saying. He does a good job of countering the inclusiveness of Jesus with the exclusivity of the Pharisees. However, he brings up the idea for people joining the followers of Jesus: purposeful inclusion. This is the idea that "the kingdom of God seeks to include all who want to participage in and contribute to its purpose, but it cannot include those who oppose its purpose." I like that idea a lot, but I wonder what that means about people who want to join, but won't align their behavior to the standards setup for the Kingdom. I realize that's a vague statement, but it just got me thinking.

Chapter 19 The Future of the Kingdom
This was an interesting look at the book of Revelation. He really puts out the idea that Revelation was speaking specifically to the people of that time period: persecuted Christians, but also talks about eternal hope for all Christians. Which makes sense in a way. I mean, why would John write something that would have very little meaning to the people of that time?

Chapter 20 The Harvest of the Kingdom
A lot of interesting ideas in this chapter. One in particular was the idea that at the Judgement God will judge us as nations, and not just individuals (Matthew 25). McLaren also compares Jesus' mindset on the afterlife with those of the Pharisee, Saducees, Hellenists, and Zealots. I'm not sure exactly what to do with this one overall, but it raises some interesting questions.

Chapter 21 Seeing the Kingdom
A really nice summary about trying to see the Kingdom, of having our eyes opened to what God is trying to do in this world. And it quotes Emily Dickinson, so it's a great chapter, just for that.

Next Monday: The Appendicies and final thoughts.


Justin said...

does the harvest chapter talk about some of the stuff that "the last word, and the word after that" talks about? That book pushed me in many ways, made sense in a lot of ways, but more than anything, it made me realize, that whether or not hell is real isn't the purpose of christianity. I'm not being a christian to be saved from hell, and we shouldn't use hell to convert people to christianity. I can't wait to read TSMOJ though.

Phil said...

Justin, he does talk about that quite a bit, but it's not the major focus of the chapter. If you'd like to hear him talk about it a little bit more, check out the two parts of this interview with McLaren.

Part 1
Part 2

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