The Secret Message of Jesus – Part 3

This week’s reading (chapters 10-13) were very enjoyable reading. McLaren’s message that we are to be God’s agents of reconcilation and fellowship cam through loud and clear. I truly appreciated McLaren’s points that it is “by [our] way of life” (p82) that the Kingdom is promoted and that it is there the difference is made. It is not a Sunday Morning Only thing, but radically, a daily thing, down the littlest jot of life. It’s not fire insurance. It’s a road map.

However, there was an underlying feeling of uncomfortableness that I couldn’t put my finger on that seemed to run through these 3 chapters. Certain phrases, certain concepts made me uncomfortable. Perhaps that was McLaren’s goal. I don’t know. Here they are:

1) McLaren points out that the Kingdom of God is “scandously inclusive.” Yes, this is true. However, that inclusiveness also required/requires a turning away from the life of sin. The hair goes up on the back of my neck because I often hear under people’s usage of the word inclusive that the former life can be continued and even affirmed.

2) I am uncomfortable with his point that Jesus seems to shift the “locus of spirituality from the temple (which He says will be destroyed) to the table of fellowship and reconciliation.” (p 94) I’m not entirely clear what this statement means so my issue is probably due to my confusion and not McLaren.

3) On page 96 McLaren quotes an African theologian name Lamin Sannile who points out that Christianity is easily translatable for other cultures to refer to God in their native language. People don’t need to refer to God in the “language of its founder. In fact, most of them don’t even know what the language of the founder actually was!” I can’t say I’ve ever heard that Jesus was the founder of a new religion. That’s a new one to me. I’ve heard people say erroneously that St. Paul started a new religion. But never Jesus!

4) page 104 McLaren talks about “God’s dream.” I dunno. That just sounds wierd to me.

5) I appreciataed the 5 steps from pages 108 to 113. The need for prayer, fasting, etc. It reminded me a little bit of the 4 Spiritual Laws pamphlet that was so popular in the 70’s and 80’s. Is that thing still around?

Overall, good chapters. Where to next I wonder?

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5 thoughts on “The Secret Message of Jesus – Part 3

  1. This is a very engaging post (loving the comments too). But I don’t know what Po-Mo is???? I confused.

    Deb

  2. Don’t read too much sacramentalism into it. In this low-church world the *fellowship* is the Sacrament. To most Protestants, Jesus is pointing out a line between the “organised religion” of the Jerusalem Temple and the home-based fellowships of the Early Church – the Church as the Body of Christ.

    “But I won’t be surprised if those at the table were those who believed Him to be the Christ, the Son of God.”

    Jesus got invited to a lot of dinner parties: Pharisees, Sadducees, Apostles, Prostitutes, Unbelievers, Tax Collectors, Everyone at the feedings of the 4 and 5 thousand, some people who might have “gotten” it, but a lot who certainly didn’t. The point being that Jesus ate with anyone who was willing to sit down and eat with him – regardless of their motives.

    You are so right that sometimes the Church forgets to feed and water our seeds!

    I don’t know that what you and Brian might think of as a logical development, or growth of faith is the same thing… maybe. The perception of the Emergent Church thing is that the Organised Church has a check list that we hold people up to – and we’re willing to say “not good enough yet” to people who don’t make enough the check marks on the list. That was Brian’s comments about only a little faith is enough. IU don’t think he’d disagree with you at all that growth is supposed to happen – although I *imagine* he might say we have no right to say what that growth should look like.

  3. Huw, thanks for the comments. Never having heard of this guy before, I don’t know what he’s about except for the Emergent Church thing and I really don’t know what that is about either.

    I whole heartedly agree with you that we ask too much of people right out of the gate. Yes a mustard seed worth is good. However, the mustard seed became a pretty huge tree. Sometimes the church remains satisfied with the seed and never waters it to grow beyond its seedling stage. Therefore, I think expectations are good when appropriately applied to the person and their situation.

    Regarding the temple/table thing. I went back and reread the sentence I noted. What I noted in the margin of the book was that McLaren points the shift from temple (that will be destroyed) meaning Jesus’ Body (correct?) to the table of fellowship.

    So the shift of spirituality is from the Body of Christ to fellowship? Isn’t it the Body of Christ in the fellowship/communion of the Eucharist that makes us inclusive?

    I’d have to go back and rake through the Gospels to review who sat at the various tables of fellowship with Jesus. But I won’t be surprised if those at the table were those who believed Him to be the Christ, the Son of God. Correct?

    Thus I don’t get the Po-Mo issue of table fellowship that McLaren is writing about.

    And I don’t think he’s a ranting liberal at all. Truthfully, I’m enjoying this book. I think it has a lot of good points in it. Things I’ve been talking to people about for years. I’m interested to see where this goes.

  4. If Brian means what I think he means, Table (not temple) points to the fact that Jesus A) instituted a sacred meal as the centre of his discipleship; and B) drawing from all the meals in the Gospels one sees all kinds of people at the meal.

    Please note: this is a “low church” theology of the Eucharist that would paint the meal at Cana, the meal at the Pharisee’s house and the Last Supper all in the same light. “The ‘Last Supper’ so-called because it was the last of many.”

    The idea of table fellowship is important to the current crop of Po-Mo theologians… if Brian means that I think he means.

    I too had the reaction to “radically inclusive” but I’ve heard him talk on the radio and I don’t think he means what the really odd liberals mean. Maybe. But I don’t think so. I think he means that we’re too quick to ask more than even Jesus asked: not just a mustard seed worth, but maybe three or four pounds of manly faith, at least. And we are quick to exclude those that Jesus would not have turned away.

    At least if I’d thought he was just another liberal ranting I’d not have picked the book 🙂

    But we’ll see in the next reading, I hope.

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