In this section you will find information about all of Brian's books. If you'd like to send Brian a note about any of his books, please write to email@example.com.
... will be the title of Brian's September 2016 release. Here's a short summary:
Many people experience Christianity as a system of belief. It is focused on an exclusive Supreme Being who favors some and rejects others, and it is defended by a set of self-protecting and change-averse institutions. In Converting Christianity, Brian D. McLaren challenges this conventional understanding and invites Christians to participate in a movement of conversion. Drawing from his work as a pastor, speaker, public theologian, ecumenical networker, and activist, McLaren offers a plan for deep change that can shift the direction of Christian faith to be more in sync with its founder, more life-giving for individual Christians and congregations, and more of a just, generous, and joyful resource for the whole world.
The book addresses three needed conversions:
1. From system of belief to loving way of life (a spiritual conversion)
2. From a violent supreme being to the life-giving Spirit embodied in Jesus (a theological conversion)
3. From Organized Religion to Organizing Religion (a missional conversion)
Here is a brief selection from the introduction:
For centuries, Christianity has presented itself as a system of beliefs. That system of beliefs has supported a wide range of unintended consequences - from colonialism to environmental destruction, from subordination of women to stigmatization of LGBT people, from antiSemitism to Islamaphobia, from clergy pedophilia to white privilege. What would it mean for Christians to rediscover their faith - not as a problematic system of beliefs, but as a just and generous way of life, rooted in contemplation and expressed in compassion, that makes amends for its mistakes, and is dedicated to beloved community for all? Could Christianity be converted from defining itself as a system of beliefs to a loving way of life? Could Christianity lose the bitter taste of colonialism, exclusion, judgment, hypocrisy, and oppression, and regain the sweet and nourishing taste of justice, joy, and peace again?
For centuries, Christianity has presented God as a Supreme Being who favors insiders with certain beliefs and proper institutional affiliation, while threatening outsiders with eternal conscious torment. Yet Jesus revealed God as one who “eats with sinners,” welcomes outsiders in, and keeps forgiving while being rejected, tortured, and killed. Jesus associated God with self-giving service rather than self-asserting domination. Jesus associated God more with parental tenderness rather than authoritarian toughness. What would it mean for Christians to let Jesus and his message convert them to a new vision of God? Could Christians be converted to understand God as the loving, healing, reconciling Spirit in whom all creatures live, move, and have their being? Could Christians experience a conversion in their deepest understanding of God?
For centuries, Christianity has understood itself as an “organized religion” - an institution or set of institutions that conserve a timeless set of beliefs that were given fully-formed in the past. Yet Christianity’s actual history is a story of change and adaptation in message, methods, and mission. What would happen if we understood the core Christian ethos as creative, transformative, and forward-leaning - as a constructive change agent rather than as the nostalgic curator of an aging tradition? Could Christianity be converted into an ever-evolving movement or “organizing religion” that challenges all institutions (including its own) to learn, grow, and mature toward a common and enduring vision?
Today, millions of us - Catholic, Evangelical, mainline Protestant, and Orthodox Christians, share something in common that we seldom verbalize: we believe our religious communities have lost their way and have become something very different from what Jesus would recognize as an expression of his heart and passion. The “brand” of Christianity has been so compromised that many of us are barely able to use the label any more. Whether we lean conservative, progressive, or moderate, whether we are pastors, priests, denominational leaders, or lay people, whether we’re teenagers, young adults, adults, or senior citizens, more and more of us are reaching a shared frustration that prepares the way for a profound conversion.
We all love Jesus. We all think he was right, and we all want to follow the way of life he modeled and taught. We all believe there are unique treasures in our Christian faith. But we are coming to realize that many sectors of our Christian faith need something more radical than renewal, revival, or even reform. We need conversion.
Brian's 2014 release offers 52+ chapters that give an overview of the biblical story and a fresh introduction or re-orientation to Christian faith. Each chapter is written to be read aloud in ten to twelve minutes, and is accompanied by a set of Scripture readings, reflection/discussion questions, and liturgical resources - so the book can be useful in a variety of ways for classes, small groups, new faith communities, and churches. And of course, it's an inspiring and formative read for individuals too.
Also, my friends at Life in the Trinity Ministry can help you with bulk orders at a discount for your congregation, class, or group. Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org - and copy email@example.com
The title comes from one of Brian's heroes, Brazilian educator/activist Paolo Freire. He used this title for a published dialogue between Freire and another seminal educator/activist, Myles Horton, who was an important figure in the Civil Rights Movement in the US. Freire may have derived the quote from the great Spanish poet Antonio Machado:
“Caminante, son tus huellas el camino, y nada más; caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar. Al andar se hace camino, y al volver la vista atrás se ve la senda que nunca se ha de volver a pisar. Caminante, no hay camino, sino estelas en la mar.”
Wanderer, your footsteps are the road, and nothing more; wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking. By walking one makes the road, and upon glancing behind one sees the path that never will be trod again. Wanderer, there is no road-- Only wakes upon the sea. ― Antonio Machado, Campos de Castilla
The title suggests that Christian faith is still "in the making" (as Dr. John Cobb has put it). It continues to grow, evolve, learn, change, emerge, and mature ... in and through us. What we will be as Christians in the 21st century, for better or worse, will surely change what Christian faith will be in the 22nd century and beyond.
In 2012, Brian released four works of short fiction.
"The Word of the Lord" series imagines what would happen if - just as the Almighty spoke through Amos, Isaiah, Hosea, and Jeremiah in the past - God were to have a word for Americans in an election year.
In "The Word of the Lord to the Democrats," the message comes to Ruth Schwartz, a New York lawyer who doesn't even believe in the Lord. Purchase Ebook at: Barnes & Noble (soon) or Amazon
In "The Word of the Lord to the Republicans," it's a humble soybean farmer from the Buckeye State, Fred Walters, who gets - and conveys - the message. Purchase the Ebook at: Barnes & Noble or Amazon
In "The Word of the Lord to Evangelicals," Wendy Gullivan, a student at Wheaton College, starts receiving messages from God - each accompanied by a dog! Purchase the Ebook at: Barnes & Noble or Amazon
Brian introduced the book in the US through a multi-city book tour, with stops in New York, Washington DC, Boston, Jefferson City, St. Louis, Grand Rapids, Berkeley, San Francisco, LA, San Diego, Chicago, Denver, Phoenix, Austin, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Miami
Thursday 29th November 19.30– St Martin’s in the Bullring – Tickets »
With music from Jasmine Kennedy. More to be announced.
Friday 30th November 19.30 – Manchester Cathedral – Tickets »
With conversation with Robert Cohen and music from Jasmine Kennedy. More to be announced.
Saturday 1st December 19.30 – Turbine Hall, CastleGate – Tickets »
With conversation with Professor Mona Siddiqui and music from Gareth Davies-Jones.
Monday 3rd December 19.30 – Woodlands Church – Tickets »
With music from Miriam Jones. More to be announced.
Tuesday 4th December 19.30 – Central Hall – Tickets »
With conversation with Mohammed Ansar and music from Miriam Jones.
Wednesday 5th December 19.30 – Oasis, Waterloo – Tickets »
With conversation with Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand. More to be announced.
A leader/reader's study guide to assist with individual reflection and group study will be available soon. For a limited time, we're offering a PDF of the guide as a gift for people who come to the book tour - and for those who help spread the word about the book. You can download it here: Download file
As we become aware of typographical and other needed corrections or clarifications, we will post them here.
Corrections for Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? (Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World"
Corrections for Brian D. McLaren’s Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? (Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World) [Jericho, 2012]
(As additional corrections are identified, we will add them here. To suggest a correction, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.)
Chapter 11, Footnote 6
See “San’a’1 and the Origins of the Qur’an,” Bahnam Sadeghi and Mohsen Goudarzil, (available here: http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/islm.2010.87.issue-1-2/islam-2011-0025/islam-2011-0025.xml). See also Peters, F. E. "The Quest of the Historical Muhammad." International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 23, No. 3. (Aug., 1991), pp. 291-315. More controversial is the work of Ibn Warraq, the pen name of an outspoken non-Muslim critic of Islam, who also addresses this subject in What the Koran Really Says (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2002).
Chapter 13, Footnote 2
Girardians use the term sacred to describe this supernatural, magical - and violent - power of scapegoating. I am not using sacred in this technical sense throughout this book, but rather I use the term in its more general sense, meaning “associated with God, holiness, spirituality, and religious reverence.”
Chapter 16, Footnote 14
Girard’s use of “replacement” in this quote should not be misunderstood to refer to “replacement (or supersessionist) theology,” a belief found in some strains of Christian history. Replacement theology claims that Christianity replaces Judaism as the world’s one legitimate religion, a notion that Girard and Girardians would universally and categorically reject. Rather, the term in this context refers to the replacement of violent conceptions of God with the image of a kind, gracious, nonviolent God who suffers violence and doesn’t inflict it. This is, according to Girard, an inherently Jewish project rooted in Hebrew prophets like Hosea and Isaiah, and built upon in Jesus, John, and Paul. It is largely ignored or reversed in “sacrificial” Christian history, theology, liturgy, and mission. The following passage makes the point without the easily-misunderstood term “replacement.”
The Johannine Logos is foreign to any kind of violence; it is therefore forever expelled, an absent Logos that never has had any direct, determining influence over human cultures. These cultures are based on the Heraclitean Logos, the Logos of expulsion, the Logos of violence, which, if it is not recognized, can provide the foundation of a culture. The Johannine Logos discloses the truth of violence by having itself expelled. First and foremost, John’s Prologue undoubtedly refers to the Passion. But in a more general way, the misrecognition of the Logos and mankind’s expulsion of it disclose one of the fundamental principles of human society.
. . .This revelation comes from the Logos itself. In Christianity, it is expelled once again by the sacrificial reading, which amounts to a return to the Logos of violence. All the same, the Logos is still in the process of revealing itself; if it tolerates being concealed yet another time, this is to put off for just a short while the fullness of its revelation.
The Logos of love puts up no resistance; it always allows itself to be expelled by the Logos of violence. But its expulsion is revealed in a more and more obvious fashion, and by the same process the Logos of violence is revealed as what can only exist by expelling the true Logos and feeding upon it in one way or another. (Things Hidden, pp. 271, 274)
For more on “the Heraclitean Logos,” see Heraclitus’ Fragments, especially Fragments 53 and 80 (Thanks to Paul Nuechterlein for this reference.):
War [or violence] is the father of all and the king of all; and some he has made gods and some men, some bond and some free.... We must know that war is common to all and strife is justice, and that all things come into being and pass away through strife.
Paul Nuechterlein’s name is misspelled in the first edition.
THE GIRL WITH THE DOVE TATTOO
Imagine this: You’re on the early shift at the bar . . . you’re getting sets ready, clearing tables getting ready for the evening rush. The front door swings open—and four men quickly stumble in as if taking refuge. Taken aback, you study their faces. One is a kind-faced Asian man with a shaved head, another looks as ancient as the hills with shocking white hair and beard, and the other two, well, they look awfully familiar. If you were a betting person, you would put down money that they were Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed . . . but then again, this is Sunset Strip, so it could just be reality TV.
Meet Crystal—a waitress who ends up in just this predicament. What seems like the beginning of an old joke turns into the conversation of a lifetime.
THE GIRL WITH THE DOVE TATTOO—a tale about religion, violence, peace, and identity. A new story by Brian D. McLaren.
Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words
In Brian's 2011 release, you'll get an overview of the spiritual life in a framework of four stages: simplicity, complexity, perplexity, and harmony. Then, in each stage, you'll be introduced to three practices, moves, or soul-postures that will help you deepen your life with God. Brian lodges each practice in a simple word and then offers guidance for working with each word.
Note: The book includes a Group Discussion and Study Guide on pages 271-280.
Christian evangelical author, teacher, and pastor McLaren (A New Kind of Christianity) started his writing career helping nondenominational evangelical churches adapt to the emergent, post-modern, post-Christendom era. His most recent books, however, are directed to those outside the church who identify as “spiritual, not religious” or those who find church lifeless. Using personal narrative, simple language devoid of church-speak, and self-deprecating humor, McLaren’s intimate voice envelops the reader with a sense of safety to match the vulnerability his title suggests. Beginning with a story of St. Francis of Assisi stripping naked before his father to reject his inheritance, and concluding with an invitation to skinny dip in the “river of sacredness,” McLaren presents four spiritual “seasons”—simplicity, complexity, perplexity, and harmony—accompanied by 12 prayer practices. Each practice, described as “simple, doable, and durable,” is rooted in a single word (e.g. here, thanks, sorry, help, why, yes, behold). Conventional Christians may not welcome McLaren’s extravagant invitation to those on the religious margins, but anyone wanting to conserve the spiritual spark in themselves or someone else will find this book a gentle and generous tract. (Mar.)
And here are some of the first endorsements to come in:
“Wise, easy to read, and practical.” (Fr. Richard Rohr, author of The Naked Now )
“Brian McLaren is a bridge builder. In these simple yet profound spiritual practices he perfectly marries his evangelical heart and contemplative soul, and we are all richer for the union.” (Cynthia Bourgeault, author of Centering Prayer and The Wisdom Jesus )
“A rich, brilliant and important book: wonderfully readable and personal, filled with insight and wisdom, it invites us into practices that can transform our lives.” (Marcus J. Borg, author of Speaking Christian )
"I first discovered Brian McLaren’s writing over a decade ago in the midst of a personal
crisis of faith. The Christianity I’d espoused since childhood no long answered the deep
questions of my mind and my soul. It was a frightening, lonely time—until I found
my spiritual journey reflected in the pages of Brian’s books. Ah, I’m not crazy! Yes, I
can move through this crisis into a deeper, truer faith! Since then Brian has become
a trusted friend whose path I’ve crossed time and again as we advocate for healing
in the Congo, peace in the Middle East, fair trade practices, or respectful interfaith
relationships. As an author and as a friend, Brian continues to challenge me to follow
Jesus more faithfully—more radically.
Reading Brian’s latest book, Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words was
like going on a spiritual retreat. After several years of extensive international ministry
travel—a very outward life—I needed a spiritual retreat! I needed to be drawn inward,
down into the groundedness of quiet, prayerful attention to God. Brian’s twelve simple
words offer a response to God that moves through various seasons of spiritual life:
simplicity, complexity, perplexity and harmony. Though simple, each word captures
a vast and profound meaning. I’ve written the words on note cards which I use every
morning, and the words often come to me in sleepless moments during the night,
guiding me gently into prayer.
Amazingly, my list of people who absolutely need to read this beautifully written book
includes long-time followers of Jesus as well as spiritual-but-not-yet followers of Jesus.
Surely that is an indication of the wisdom and authentic depth of Naked Spirituality." (Lynne Hybels, author of Nice Girls Don't Change the World)
“Medicine for the soul. ‘Naked Spirituality’ is filled with uncommon honesty. It is a tonic for all those who yearn for practical help with the development of rhythms of life – free from the stifling tyranny of legalism – that will foster a depth of Christ-centred spirituality.” (Steve Chalke MBE Founder, Oasis Global, Faithworks & Stop The Traffik, UN Special Advisor on Community Action Against Human Trafficking)
Readers can share resources in response to the book here.
You can download a free PDF of study questions for the book here: Download file
When the editors of Baker Books (joined by Doug Pagit and Tony Jones) asked me to consider editing a collection of chapters on justice, one of the reasons I said yes was the chance to expose more people to some of the wonderful justice-workers I've met in my travels around the world. First, I thought of who my co-editors should be, and immediately I thought of Elisa Shannon Padilla, a tireless justice advocate who works with Kairos based in Argentina, and Ashley Bunting Seeber - not only a brilliant graduate student (in post-colonial studies in the UK), but also a tremendous organizer and project manager.
Then I started thinking of who else should be invited to write ... so that more and more readers in the US and abroad could hear from Native American voices who are so often forgotten, Latino advocates and activists who pursue "mission integral," African Americans with their rich tradition of a justice-integrated gospel, people working among the poorest of the poor in urban slums and rural villages, people working to save ecosystems and the beautiful creatures who live in them. I wanted to be sure people got to know some of the amazing people in my circle of friends - thoughtful scholars and grass-roots practitioners, older and younger, homemakers and agitators, conservative and liberal and otherwise. So ... as you can imagine, this project has been a real joy for me.
Here's how Baker describes the book:
"Justice and the call for change are in the air. Whether it's extreme poverty, human rights, racism, or the Middle East, news outlets bombard us with stories about the need for justice in the world. But how are Christians to respond to these stories and the conditions to which they refer? Here's help. Editors Brian McLaren, Elisa Padilla, and Ashley Bunting Seeber have amassed a collection of over 30 brief chapters by some of the most penetrating thinkers in the justice conversation, including René Padilla, Peggy Campolo, Will and Lisa Samson, Sylvia Keesmaat, Bart Campolo, Lynne Hybels, Tony Jones, and Richard Twiss. Divided into sections, "God of Justice," "Book of Justice," "Justice in the USA," "Just World," and "Just Church," The Justice Project invites readers to deepen their understanding of the pressures our world faces and to take up the challenge of alleviating them. Never has the world been in greater need of Christians who "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God." This resource will help them do just that."
I'm especially hoping that this book will become the basis for lots of small group and classroom dialogue, in person and online, because you don't often get to hear from an assortment of spiritual leaders like these, all gathered together in one place, all sharing the passion of seeking God's kingdom and God's justice "on earth as it is in heaven."
*My share of advance and royalties for this book will go to la red del camino, an important young network for integral mission across Latin America, and emergent village, which resources a growing generative friendship among missional Christian leaders in the U.S.
Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crisis, and a Revolution of Hope
This book in many ways is a sequel to The Secret Message of Jesus, although people can begin with either book. It asks two essential questions: What are the world's top crises, and what do the life and message of Jesus say to those global crises? I spent a few years researching the global crisis literature and tried to synthesize the best thinking on the subject. I developed a metaphor to help people understand global crises - a machine with four moving parts, corresponding to the four critical crises that create so much human suffering. Meanwhile, I was studying the gospels in a concentrated way, seeking to understand how Jesus' original hearers would have heard and understood his message of the kingdom of God. The two pursuits enriched each other in ways that I will probably never fully be able to communicate. This book is by far my most ambitious project yet, and I can't imagine ever writing anything that is more important and urgent.
Everything Must Change hardcover released on October 2nd, 2007 may be purchased at: barnes and noble and christianbook.com. You can read the release note about the book, which also includes a reader's guide and a list of suggested readings.
The new softcover edition is available for purchase at: amazon.com, barnes and noble, and christianbooks.com. This edition will be more affordable for small groups and classes, and I've heard from so many groups now that have told me this book really works at stimulating both energetic dialogue and action. For about $40 (sometimes less), you can get a beautifully-produced DVD guide to the book. In the DVD I give a short introduction to each of the eight sections of the book that your group can watch leading into each discussion. You can purchase the DVD at: amazon.com and christianbooks.com.
There will be a website that will allow people to contribute ideas on putting the message of Everything Must Change into action. You can download preview of the starter content – to which we hope you will contribute when the interactive site is up.
You can also download an unpublished appendix to the book, called President Bush's Ungiven Speech.
In the entire Book of Acts of The Voice Scripture project, the Jerusalem church is forced to expand against its will. This book applies their story to the emerging church of today. It features a retelling of Acts by Brian McLaren and commentary by Chris Seay.
Click here to purchase The Voice of Acts: The Dust Off Their Feet.
In many ways, all of my previous books are a preparation for this one. It is aimed at a broad audience - including "spiritual but not religious" seekers, members of nonChristian religions, and Christian leaders and thoughtful Christians. It is an exploration of the real "passion of Christ," which is the message of the kingdom of God.
This book, released in late August 04, has elicited a lot of response already. The book turned out to be a confession - as in a confession of faith, not of sin (although some might think ...). The title is elucidated in a wonderful foreword by Dr. John Franke of Biblical Theological Seminary (thanks, John), and the overly long subtitle gives the table of contents of the book: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, anabaptist/anglican, methodist, catholic, green, incarnational, depressed-yet-hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian. It's my only book to contain a "Chapter 0."
This book completes the trilogy and extends the story of Dan Poole and Neo into some new "hot" territory. Dan struggles with the idea of hell, and does some research to learn about the origins of the idea. He also connects with a faith community that Neo is part of and gains a deeper understanding of the gospel, justice, and Jesus' message of the kingdom of God.
Click here to purchase The Last Word and the Word After That.
This is the sequel to A New Kind of Christian, second in the trilogy. It is the most important book I've written so far, I think. It's an attempt to tell the Biblical story. One of the most surprising responses I have received about the book is from men who tell me the book brought them to tears. I hope someday to come back to the "seven episodes" explored in this book: if I ever write a "theology," I think it would emerge from this telling of the Biblical story.
Click here to purchase The Story We Find Ourselves In.
I started this book as a totally nonfiction treatise on Christianity and postmodernity, but after I got about 100 pages into it, I realized the book was on the road to becoming 500 pages of abstraction - and no one would read it. So, I started over, taking the advice of a perceptive reviewer of "The Church on the Other Side." If McLaren is serious about what he's saying, the reviewer said, he should be writing fiction. So, I began rewriting using a fictional dialogue as framework for the book. The book has made a few people angry, as you can discover by doing a search at Christianity Today (or reading comments at Amazon). But the negative comments have, so far at least, been negligible compared to the affirming ones. I set the book up so that it could be the first of a trilogy.
I had the idea for this book - on the relationship of church to culture, and especially emerging postmodern culture - and proposed it to Emergent/YS. I think it will be an important book - helping turn potentially divisive issues into shared concerns.
Click here to purchase Church in the Emerging Culture; Five Perspectives.
This was a book I had been thinking about writing for a couple of years. When I brought it to EmergentYS, they suggested Tony Campolo as a coauthor. We divvied up the chapters, and then each of us wrote a response to the other's chapters. Tony disagrees with me on several points, which is part of what makes the book interesting and fun, I think. We've gotten really positive response on this book, especially from people in "the Christian subculture" who feel it kicks some doors down and opens some windows for needed fresh air.
Click here to purchase Adventures in Missing the Point.
This book, coauthored with Len Sweet and Jerry Haselmayer, is set up like a dictionary: A is for ... B is for ... It's not heavy reading, but attempts to deliver some important content in short chunks of intense (and sometimes light-hearted) prose. Several entries (like "Deconstruction") tackle difficult terms and seek to show their relevance for life and ministry in the emerging culture. It was a blast to work with Len on the content, with Jerry focusing on "epictivities" for groups.
This is a book about sharing your faith. It's based on a series of emails exchanged between a bright and sincere young seeker and me, and its goal is to help people learn how/to be "spiritual friends" to others who are searching for a faith that is real.
Click here to purchase More Ready Than You Realize.
This book updates and re-presents the first half of my book Finding Faith. It focuses on the intellectual side of the search for God. It addresses questions like these: Does it really matter what I believe? What is the relationship between faith and knowledge? Can I believe in atheism? Is "I don't know" enough to know? If there is one God, why are there so many religions? Do you seriously expect me to believe in God as an Old Man with a Long White Beard? Don't all paths lead to the same God?
Click here to purchase A Search for What Makes Sense: Finding Faith.
This book updates and re-presents the second half of my book Finding Faith. It focuses on ways that sincere spiritual seekers can experience God. It addresses questions like these: How might I experience God? Can I experience God through doubt? How do church and the Bible fit into my spiritual search? What if I lose interest? How can nature and Jesus help me in my spiritual search?
I wrote this book for my friends who are searching for God, but find traditional Christian "apologetics" more an obstacle than a bridge. Many Christians, including quite a few pastors, have told me it has helped them too. I think it's some of my best writing, and may still be the book that I care most about.
This was my first book (originally entitled - against my recommendation - "Reinventing Your Church"). This book introduces all the topics I explore in my other books, and many churches have used it for group study, finding it a helpful (and gentle) introduction to the conversation about Christian faith-life-mission and the emerging postmodern culture.
Click here to purchase The Church on the Other Side.