Why Did Jesus, Moses, The Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road? Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World
As Brian McLaren points out, this is a question he only dares ask because of his faith in Christ
By Brian D. McLaren (2012)
Hodder and Stoughton
Reviewed by: Andrew Starr
We have no fear of reprisal from ‘our’ heavenly Father. McLaren conjectures, whether Jesus, Moses, The Buddha and Mohammed would cross the road to meet? If so, what would they discuss? He also challenges our sense of how exclusive ‘our’ concept of God is. Do we allow ‘our Father’, the god of Israel, to also be the maker of all people, all creation, spanning countless millennia?
McLaren, a pastor from Washington DC and regular speaker at the Greenbelt Arts festival, is a theologian who is interested in the practicality of ‘imitating Christ’ in our multicultural world. He suggests that this must be driven by love if our witness is to be at all effective, and invents a new word, ‘with-ness’, to describe how we do this. Conditional friendships (I want you to change to be like me) are always likely to be strained. McLaren suggests we are able to ‘square this circle’ without watering down our faith and theology through what he calls ‘strong benevolence’. He says that our religion has been tainted over the centuries with supremacy ideology, from the point when Christianity moved from persecuted, to persecutor.
He feels our need for a ‘de-bugging’ of that which is not of Christ within us, is similar to our heart’s desire for all people of other faiths and none. In this way, our approach is one of seeing blessing from contact with others, both within our tradition, and without, where the Holy Spirit’s work can transform all through the experience.
McLaren characterises the Church’s approach to multi-faith witness as creating a dissonance between ‘intelligence on ice’ and ‘ignorance on fire’. He hopes we can find a middle way, based on imitating Christ. I for one am with him.
Andrew Starr is a member of the Leicester Muslim-Christian Forum