Secret Message of Jesus:
Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything
by Brian D. McLaren
Thomas Nelson, 2006
in time for the cinematic adaptation of The Da Vinci Code—Dan
Brown’s scandalous, bestselling novel about the “secret
history of Christ”—comes a new book by emerging church
guru Brian D. McLaren that helps clarify why millions are intrigued
by such unorthodox interpretations of Christ.
than attempt to refute The Da Vinci Code, however, McLaren
argues that the popularity of Brown’s book and the “shared
frustration with the status-quo, male-dominated, power-oriented,
cover-up-prone organized Christian religion” it expresses
should prompt some serious self-examination among believers.
fictional version of Christ may mislead in many ways, McLaren agrees,
but could it be that the church’s conventional portrayal of
Jesus is just as misleading? Is it possible that
amidst all the hustle and bustle that is twenty-first century Christian
life, we are missing out on the very person, the very message that
started it all?
it’s true that all of us—even Dan Brown—are missing
the point, then exactly what is the point? What is this hidden message
of Jesus that we’ve all overlooked? Can it even be found?
And who appointed McLaren head excavator? Readers will be happy
to learn that far from assuming the air of one who has “arrived,”
McLaren takes a humble, understated approach to this book, proceeding
as someone with more questions than answers. He does not claim to
know much, but he does assert that there has to be something more—“a
hidden door somewhere behind a curtain or a bookcase ”—through
which we can access “rooms we’ve never imagined.”
book begins with an examination of Jesus and his times. Through
this study, McLaren seeks to help readers understand the context
in which Jesus lived and taught so they can see how utterly revolutionary
he and his message really were (and are). And what is this message?
Essentially, that it is possible
for everyone, everywhere to live an extraordinary life to the full,
centered on a relationship with God. Eternal life doesn’t
begin after we die; it begins right here and now.
has tremendous implications on every level—political, social,
religious, and personal. For some, it is the best news imaginable.
For others, it is the worst, because it stands to threaten all they
have invested in the status quo.
this is only the beginning. From here, McLaren proceeds to a thorough
examination of the substance of Jesus’ message. This includes
the various media through which it was delivered, the veiled nature
of Christ’s teachings (and why it was delivered in this way),
and the overall meaning and implication of Christ’s message
in his historical context.
Three of the book brings things back to the present, so we can reconsider
our world in light of Christ’s revolutionary message. What
does it mean to live in the Kingdom of God in the twenty-first century?
What does this look like on an individual level? On a corporate
level? If we truly do begin to live out this message, will we pose
the same threat to society that Jesus did? If so, will we be treated
in the same way?
what is at stake if we fail to fully grasp Jesus and his message?
Overall, this section presents a strong sense of hope, that our
secret longings and suspicions about there being some hidden dimension
to life are really true. There really is more to this world—to
Jesus—than meets the eye. And we can access it all right here
ensure this exploration of Jesus and his teachings doesn’t
remain an idle intellectual exercise, McLaren provides some helpful
appendices at the end of this book that show readers how to begin
living out what we’ve learned. Of particular
note is Appendix Three, which presents a three-part strategy for
for conversation about Jesus and his teachings
experiments (practice some facet of Jesus’ message), and
some sort of group action that expresses the kingdom of God.
not a bad strategy for anyone seeking to go deeper into the life
are not many Christian books that I would feel comfortable handing
off to my non-Christian friends, but this is definitely one of them.
It doesn’t matter if you identify yourself as a Christian
or not: If you’ve ever shared McLaren’s hunch that there’s
more to Jesus—to this world—than meets the eye, I strongly
encourage you to read this book. You won’t find all of the
answers here. Far from it. But at the very least, you come away
encouraged that your questions are valid, your journey authentic,
and your destination real.
©2006 Kevin Miller
To purchase a copy of THE
SECRET MESSAGE OF JESUS, visit amazon.com. This link is provided
as a service to explorefaith visitors and registered