Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Secret Message of Jesus by Brian D. McLaren

The Secret Message of Jesus
(Uncovering the truth that could change everything)
By; Brian D. McLaren

Pastor Don Janssma recommended that I read this book. I had given him a 15 page article written by Dr. Bob Bowman. It condemned our practice of using war as the preferred way of resolving issues between nations and theologies. He articulated what he referred to as the just war theory. It immediately resonated with my current thinking and was so profound, I sent copies to other ministers I have encountered in my life’s journey. I did this because he specifically requested that those in a position to spread the word as Pastors can, espouse this theory to try to convince their parishioners to refuse to support wars that do not conform to this concept. I had never heard of it before and credited Dr. Bowman with authorship. On page 155 of this book the theory is mentioned word for word and this book was published in 2006. Perhaps Mr. McLaren picked this up from some other source. The important thing is the theory itself not who first wrote it. I am attaching a copy as an addendum to this report for your information.
The author goes on to say that while the above idea is better than nothing, he believes we should strive to find peaceful solutions to settle conflicts between nations and theologies. He promotes spending ever larger sums from our budget by addressing the underlining causes of conflict.
This book provides a clinical review of the life of Jesus, his statements and actions. It is easily read and understood. He provides clarity where often there is confusion and interpretations that are not in accord with the truth. He points out where Christianity has strayed by taking phrases out of context rather than staying true to the whole body of scripture. He makes sense of the use of parables and the fearless way Jesus took on the reining authorities while breaking bread with prostitutes, tax collectors and other outcasts.
Of particular importance to me is the issue of life after death. Mr. McLaren points out that the kingdom referred to is also here and now as well as in our after life. Only recently have some evangelical churches broken away from the doctrine of subduing the earth to being concerned with saving our environment. We are required to do good works not just so we can be rewarded but because that is what is required of us. I have always believed that the promise of life after death has been used to calm people into accepting their fate, as miserable as it might be, while those with wealth enjoy life to the full, here and now.
I strongly recommend all who read this review to read this book. The last chapter asks that we join together in study groups sharing ideas, using the book as reference and then as a result put into practice what we believe should be done. I have not attempted to write portions from the book as I cannot agree with what to put in or leave out. The only way for you is to read it yourself.
I write this with trepidation as I do not consider myself to be qualified to make statements about Jesus since I have been a skeptic most of my life. The reason for that is that I cannot accept that people professing to be Christians live non-Christian lives. When self interest rises up they do what is best for themselves rather than the good of all.
What a wonderful world this would be if the principles of Jesus were adhered to. Perhaps hatred between peoples and other religions would cease so that all resources could be put to work improving instead of destroying. It is possible but only if we care enough to make it happen.
My above comments represent the feeling I have after reading. Yours may be different. I look forward to discussing with anyone who also reads this book.

Jack B. Walters
3961 N. Hillwood Circle
Tucson, AZ 85750
(520) 722-2958
March 26, 2009

Just War Theory
( From Mr. Brian McLaren’s book,” The Secret Message of Jesus”)

The just war theory gave seven criteria for a “just war”: a just cause for the war, a legitimate authority declaring war, a formal declaration of war, the goal being a return to peace, recourse to war only as a last resort, a reasonable hope of success, and means proportional to ends. The theory also presented three conditions for the prosecution of any war that met the seven criteria: noncombatants must not be targeted, prisoners must not be treated with cruelty, and international treaties and conventions must be respected. In this way, just war theory sought to balance competing demands: commitment to nonviolence in the way of Jesus and responsibility to protect neighbors from violence in the way of Jesus.

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