Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? By Brian McLaren

"To accept and love God, must I betray my neighbor of another religion? To accept and love my neighbor, must I betray the God of my religion?"

The past couple of decades have been exceptional when it comes to religious diversity. Christianity is no longer the cultural norm in America. Incidents across the world have highlighted our many differences. How do Christians respond to Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, and so on?

Brian McLaren's appropriately titled book Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? attempts to refocus our goals as followers of Christ.

From a purely historical and literary perspective, Jesus is a very interesting character. He spends almost his entire ministry with societal outcasts while specifically avoiding the religious authority of the day. Now fast forward over two thousand years, where do we find the followers of Jesus? Are they more concerned about loving people or staying in line with Christian values?

McLaren divides this book into four sections.

The Crisis of Christian Identity. Identify yourself as a Christian and you will unfortunately be labeled with several negative qualities. Regrettably, most of these perceived qualities have been earned by well-intended but severely misguided Christians. Just like the Pharisees found in the Gospels, Christians today have become more concerned about staying holy and not sinning that we forget to love our brothers and sisters on earth. To be strong Christians, we need humble hearts. To be strong Christians, we need to focus on loving others as an act of loving God. We will definitely receive reprimands from the Christian mainstream but as McLaren reminds us, "Crucifixion happens, not at the hand of others, but Us."

The Doctrinal Challenge and The Liturgical Challenge. These two sections were a bit weak in my opinion. I understand McLaren's desire to refocus our doctrines and liturgy so that we focus more on others and the love that God wants us to show. I liked the areas where I felt like he was correcting doctrinal misunderstandings, but I didn't like how he tried to change the entire focus of a tradition or sacrament. See chapter on baptism. I certainly don't disagree with his changes or adjustments, I just don't think the changes are the solution. There was not much tie in to the whole theme of the book.

The Missional Challenge. The best way to describe the challenge of being a Christian in a multifaith world can be summed up by Gandhi. One, be like Christ. Two, don't tone done your message. Three, center on love. Four, study non-Christian religions.

In conclusion, this is great book on religious diversity and more importantly, loving others. This is the book I think Rob Bell was trying to write when he penned Love Wins. Brian McLaren does a great job writing in simple and straightforward terms. He does not try to throw Greek words at you to prove a theological point. I look forward to reading more from McLaren in the future.

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