I just finished reading The Secret Message of Jesus. This is an outstanding book; I’ve read several of McLaren’s books and have liked every one of them; for the most part his thought rings very true to me. In Secret Message the author makes the point that the teachings of Jesus were and are about living in the present, not just about getting to heaven when you die. He relates the teachings of Jesus to the political situation at the time and extends them into our own time. The key is the “Kingdom of God” which is something Jesus frequently spoke about. Our task as His followers is to implement the Kingdom right here right now by practicing the things Jesus taught such as feeding the poor, forgiving others, going the extra mile etc. Yes, the world would be radically different and better if more people practiced the Kingdom of God. In the appendix to the book he asks “Why Didn’t we get it sooner?” Here he discusses how the church got hung up in politics, especially after Constantine and also hung up on doctrine and philosophy rather than practice. He makes some good points here, but I think that at least some in the Church have always been aware of the Secret Message: a good example from the early medieval period would be St Francis. But it is true that the church has often tended to emphasize other things at the expense of the Secret Message.
There are discussion questions at the end of the book. I think I may use these questions as writing prompts for the blog (unless I allow slothfulness to overtake me). This book would make a really good one for a discussion group, but I suspect that the book would not be well received in my church. I may ask the people in my Bible study group if they are familiar with McLaren to see what sort of reaction I get.