We had a great time this past Monday discussing Brian McLaren's new book, The Secret Message of Jesus. About half of the group hadn't had time to read it, so the rest of us who had took turns explaining for them in our own words what Jesus' "secret message" was according to Brian ("the kingdom of God is among you" as opposed to "believe in Jesus so you can avoid Hell when you die") This very quickly led into a discussion of why Brian chose to use the word "secret" and what he meant by that. Turns out he wasn't just trying to capitalize on the DaVinci Code fanfare and actually made a very good point about Jesus' consistent use of parable, metaphor and indirect answers in his teaching style. One begins to wonder why, if right belief really is so important - literally a matter of heaven and hell - as evangelicals claim that it is, then why wasn't Jesus far more clear in his teaching? Why is he so hard to understand sometimes. As it turns out, Brian explains that perhaps what is more important than having all the answers is being spiritually formed into the kind of people God wants us to be - namely, humble, teachable learners in an interactive relationship with the Teacher.
We continued to talk about some of the implications of Jesus' kingdom message, and asked what was so controversial about this book in the first place. (Not much really, as it turns out, though there are some who are sufficiently opposed to all things emergent that they are bound to dislike anything McLaren puts out these days.) We were fortunate to have Pastor Fred from Redeemer Lutheran with us. His background in the more mainline "social gospel" churches helped give us all a needed perspective to say that Brian's "secret message" is not really anything all that new or radically different. It's the kind of thing that his denomination and Christian circles have been talking about for decades. He encouraged us "post-evangelicals" not to forget about our evangelistic calling in our rush to embrace a more social justice oriented message.
Anyhow, we talked about a lot of other issues related to the book, including eschatology, grace, and our role in bringing about the kingdom. I want to say thank you to everyone who was there and contributed to the discussion. It was a stimulating time, and as always I especially value the opportunity to connect with fellow emergent Christians and leaders from all over the Chicago area. Networking is a beautiful thing. :)
Our next up/rooted gathering is going to be a very special event hosted by Adventrek on Monday, July 31st at 7pm. We will be joined by Wahu Kaara, a 2005 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and 2007 Kenyan presidential candidate, as well as the Psalters, a band whose songs cry out for the liberation of the oppressed. Wahu Kaara is the Ecumenical Coordinator for the Millenium Development Goals in Kenya, the founding coordinator of Kenya's debt relief network. Also in 2005 she launched (together with the president of Brazil) a global call to action against poverty in Brazil which has grown into the world's largest anti-poverty movement, with campaign actions in more than 80 countries.
Come join us on the 31st as Ms. Kaara challenges us to "Wake Up to Poverty" followed by inspiring music from the Psalters. The event will be hosted at Kristine Socall's house at 26W325 Torrey Pines Ct, Winfield, IL. For more info go to http://www.adventrek.org.
See you then!