Brian McLaren is one of those ‘love him or hate him’ figures. Every book he writes seems to be greeted with cries of ‘heretic!’ or heralded as the book that will save the church.
Even though I’m not always on the same page as Brian theologically, I’ve welcomed his writings. I like to read books that challenge me, causing me to wrestle with my beliefs and how I live them out. And Brian always does that.
His latest book Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? is no exception. Brian believes the church needs a ‘grand reformulation’ of its doctrine, liturgy and mission, if it’s to develop enriching relationships with the world’s other religions.
While I might not agree with all the aspects of this proposed reformulation, this book deeply challenged me and my relationships (or lack thereof) with other religions.
Within a short walk of my house we’ve got a Buddhist meditation centre and a synagogue, and while I have met people from both, I haven’t developed an ongoing relationship with any of them. Brian’s book as inspired me to renew my commitment to getting to know these people.
As Brian reminded me in the interview, Jesus was always crossing the road to engage with ‘the other’. So if I want to be authentic followers of Jesus then I too need to go out of my way to connect with people of other faiths.