Book Review ---"Everything Must Change" by Brian McLaren
I have read about one-third of the book,"Everything Must Change", by Brian McLaren. I am reading an advance copy the book will be released on October 1, 2007. It would be an understatement to say the book is challenging me. In his usual candor, McLaren is turning my world upside down. He did it to me in "A New Kind of Christian" and now in this book.
In this 300 plus page volume, McLaren, tries to answer two questions:
1. What are the biggest problems in the world?
2. What does Jesus have to say about these global problems? (11-12)
As problems are listed---environmental breakdown, gap between ultra-rich and the extremely poor, cataclysmic war, the failure of the world's religion---McLaren says that the message of the Christian faith is,"a message purporting to be the best news in the world should be doing better than this".(34) He argues that Christianity has "focused on the afterlife but has failed to address significant social injustices in this life".(33) "Christianity should be about God's will being done on this troubled earth as it is in heaven."(4)
McLaren suggests, “that when we align ourselves with God’s wisdom, character and dreams for us…then our society will take a radically different direction and our world we(sic) become a very different place” (I am reading an uncorrected proof, I am sure he meant would).(69) In order for this to happen we would have to reframe our stories. In some circles the story is that the world will get progressively worse until Jesus returns to destroy it. Other stories such as theocapitalistic stories say the rich are blessed by God and the economy moves mysteriously to solve all the world's problems and meet needs. If we reframe our story into the Jesus story, Jesus confronted the framing stories of his time and sought to turn them on end. Instead of a downward arc of self-destruction, we are introduced to the story of the Kingdom of God which brings transformation and hope. (70-75)
While I still have quite a bit more to read, I am challenged by this book on different levels. As an individual I wonder what I can do about Global Poverty. I do work with the impoverished in our city, who would be considered wealthy in developing countries. I know the story I grew up in would suggest that Jesus is my personal Savior, while McLaren says there is nothing is wrong with that, however, the question becomes---what next? On another level, I wonder what we as group of Christians would be able to do if worked with God for the transformation of the whole world. As I continue to read the book, I will be asking myself that question---What Next?