McLarens new book called “The Secret Message of Jesus”, has more unclear messages for us to chew on — either we swallow it eagerly because we are starving for food any food will do, or spit it out, knowing that it is less than nutritious, because you have had a decent meal, and know what is good and what is not. Have you ever watched survivor and been amazed at what people will eat if they are starving!! They will eat anything for the feeling of fullness. Much in the same way, if you have not been fed on good food, then you will be starving for any food.
McLaren has unlocked the secret messages of Jesus. Yes, that’s right the secret message of Jesus is now clarified all the more by McLaren, as it has always been a bit of a problem for the church over the past 2000 years or so to get a proper understanding of what Christ actually meant when he engaged the people in parables. Sounds like McLaren has a new revelation to tell, he even says he maybe classed as a gnostic by some. Here we are in the 21st century all upset about an ancient document called the gospel of Judas, and the role that Judas played in bringing Christ to the cross and the impact it will have on the Christians of today; now we also have McLaren to contend with and his views on what Jesus really meant.
Clearly, this gospel or account of Judas is going to be a problem for those who do not hold to sola-scripture; as will McLarens teachings. I however do hold to sola-scripture, and I make no defence but by the scriptures alone where Jesus says that not one word shall be added or taken away from the book — ‘I believe Him’.
Rev 22:18-20: “For I testify together with everyone hearing the Words of the prophecy of this Book, if anyone adds to these things, God will add upon him the plagues having been written in this Book. And if anyone takes away from the Words of the Book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the Book of Life, and out of the holy city, and of the things having been written in this Book. The One testifying these things says, Yes, I am coming quickly. Amen. Yes, come, Lord Jesus!”
I personally trust that the Almighty God chose what books were to be included into His Word and what books were to be excluded. If you don’t trust that an Almighty God has the last Word about His Word and what that Word is going to be; well then you are open to all sorts of heresy, and so called revelations that are going to be coming in these days of liberal revisionism and liberal theology.
Anyway, I digress. I may blog about Judas at some later date, but for now I am going to concentrate on McLaren’s account of what the Lord is all about, and what his readers are beginning to understand about Jesus. First though, let McLaren speak:
A number of people have asked about the title. Some people are concerned that it has “Gnostic connotations.” Obviously, I was aware that some might draw this conclusion, but my main audience for the book (and really, for most of my books) is not members of the Christian subculture who would even know what “Gnostic” means. Instead, my primary audience is the “spiritual but not religious” people who are interested in what Jesus was about, but are generally turned off by the Religious Right, institutional religion, etc. I felt that the title would connect with this audience, and I was willing to risk being misunderstood for that purpose. Jesus, I think, took similar risks again and again.
As I worked on the book, I was repeatedly struck by how “strategically indirect” Jesus was – hiding his message in parable, sign, and wonder. I began to realize that this strategy of hiddenness was integral to Jesus’ whole message and ministry. I think people who read the book will be struck by this theme as well.
Well, let us hear from the people who have read his book and now have an understanding that is new and insightful. Amazon is an amazing site for feedback from where these quotes were taken from:
The title itself has to do with the idea that Jesus often concealed his message in parables and questions. Rarely does Jesus ever give a clear statement of what the gospel is all about. In fact, in Matthew 13:10-15 Jesus flat out admits that he is being deliberately unclear. Brian asks why would Jesus do such a thing? If doctrinal knowledge is so very important (at least according to evangelical theologies), then why couldn’t Jesus have just spoken more clearly and told us everything we needed to know. Why did he speak in parables rather than in doctrinal statements? (…) Instead maybe Christ’s goal was to effect spiritual transformation in the lives of his hearers by inviting his hearers into an interactive relationship with himself; and maybe this goal is best achieved by means of parables and other similarly evocative forms of communicating. But what is Jesus’ secret message then? According to Brian, it comes down to the idea of the kingdom of God as a present, political, social, and personal reality. In other words, he focuses on the fact that Jesus didn’t seem to talk about heaven as some place we go to after we die, but rather as a reality that we can begin to live in here and now (“the kingdom of God is among you!”). And perhaps by living in this reality (according to its ways and values) we can begin to transform the world in such a way as to bring a little bit more of heaven to earth.
Let’s look at Matthew 13, and see if the above is in accordance with scripture.
Mat 13:9-14 The one having ears to hear, let him hear. And coming near, the disciples said to Him, Why do You speak to them in parables? Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, And answering, He said to them, but it has not been given to those. For whoever has, to him will be given, and he will have overabundance. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. Because of this, I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled on them, which says, “In hearing you will hear and in no way understand, and seeing you will see yet in no way perceive.
Ok, firstly the parables are not for them (the unsaved), but for us his disciples. So, the idea that the parables are unclear is true to a point; they are unclear for those who are not saved. The unsaved do not understand the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven…read again — ‘H-E-A-V-E-N’. He was not strategically indirect with us so to hide a secret message from us that had to be enlightened with some new revelation or some form of gnosticism. He was strategically indirect with them. Who are the ‘them‘? They are the unsaved, the ones who do not have their ears open, or their eyes open.
Now for the claim that Jesus did not talk about Heaven as a place to go, but rather a kingdom of God that is here and now. Well taken out of context this claim appears to be true. But Jesus said that His Kingdom is not of this world when questioned by Pilate. The kingdom of Heaven is not of this world, this world is fallen; no matter how in our humanity we try to make it better, it just isn’t going to get any better. This world has fallen under the curse of sin. Rom 8:22 “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now”. Peter also tells us that we are aliens and strangers of this world; that this is a carnal world, and is full of many temptations. We are told to seek first the kingdom, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew Henry on seeking the kingdom and His righteousness says:
First, The object of this seeking; The kingdom of God, and his righteousness; we must mind heaven as our end, and holiness as our way. “Seek the comforts of the kingdom of grace and glory as your felicity. Aim at the kingdom of heaven; press towards it; give diligence to make it sure; resolve not to take up short of it; seek for this glory, honour, and immortality; prefer heaven and heavenly blessings far before earth and earthly delights.”
Now, more from a reader of McLaren:
Brian puts it this way: “What if Jesus’ secret message reveals a secret plan? What if he didn’t come to start a new religion – but rather came to start a political, social, religious, artistic, economic, intellectual, and spiritual revolution that would give birth to a new world?” (p. 4)
What is this New world that McLaren is talking about? It is the ever more popular ‘kingdom now’ theology, or ‘restorational eschatology’, an over realised theology that claims that the church has to bring in the kingdom before Christ comes.
Dominionism or Triumphalism is what McLaren is all about. It is nothing better than mans way of sorting the whole mess out before Christ comes again. Christ did not teach a social gospel, He came to save us from the clutches of this world, and He was interested in where we will spend eternity. Christian humanism has been born again, in fact in never really went away. But as Christians we really should recognise what is truth, and what appears to be truth. Please people fill your mind with His Word, and search to see if these things are so.