Is Jesus the Only Way?

I've been asked this question so many times over the years that I wrote a short e-book to address it. It includes an in-depth reading of John 14:6 in the larger context of John's Gospel, and I think you'll find it helpful to read and recommend to others. You can download it (along with other helpful resources) here:

https://brianmclaren.net/store/

 

 

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A video of a song I wrote back in 2015 …

Thanks to whoever set images to the music. Needed now more than ever.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5v6QsVr3lQM

 

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Thanks to Richard Rohr, an invitation to follow his example …

Years ago, I was in conversation with one of the most well-known leaders in the white Evangelical Christian community. He had earned my respect and earned even more that night.

A small group of Evangelicals had gathered in private to address a difficult topic. I won't say what it was, but only that it was one of the big five by which Evangelicals then defined themselves (and sadly, by and large still do):

  • that abortion should be made a crime
  • that homosexuality should be considered an intolerable abomination
  • that the state of Israel should be supported unconditionally and without qualification
  • that government should be small and that business/profit/capitalism/markets should be given free reign
  • that climate change is a myth

I was so impressed that night when that Evangelical leader said, "I haven't gained all this spiritual and social capital to play it safe. I'm going to use my platform to speak out on this issue."

Well, over a decade has passed and he hasn't yet done so. Maybe he still will.

Meanwhile, Richard Rohr has.

 

If you value his daily emails (as hundreds of thousands of us do), you've watched him speak out in recent weeks. He has courageously and directly addressed issues of race, economics, the environment, war, violence, and the dignity of all people. He has done so firmly, graciously, gently, and clearly.

He has a platform and he uses it wisely. (Thanks, Richard!)

I'm sure that he has received some negative feedback. I'm sure he's had some people hit "unsubscribe." But I'm also sure that he has challenged some harmful assumptions and misconceptions ... and he has used his platform to encourage people to move in the right, wise, loving, needed direction.

Please, if you have a platform and you're worried about risking it to speak out, please, follow Richard's example. These times demand courage. And candor. And, yes, risk.

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A July 4th Moment

I was walking hand in hand with one of my granddaughters on the beach yesterday. We were hatching grand plans to construct a sand castle together. On the way to the beach we passed a lot of flags and other July 4th trimmings, and my granddaughter asked me, "What is July 4th about, anyway?"

Truth be told, I wasn't exactly "in the July 4 spirit," if there is such a thing. It felt hard for me to do anything other than lament yesterday, watching what is happening in this country ... a great reversion or great regression, you might say, the 2016-2018 moral counterpart of the great economic recession of 2008.

Believing that a child's question is a sacred thing, I told her about the Declaration of Independence, and she, an avid learner, summarized what I said. "So basically, July 4th is celebrating when those guys said they wanted to have their own country and not be colonies of England."

"That's it," I said. But I couldn't let that be the whole story. "They said that all men are created equal, which was a good start. But unfortunately, when they said 'all people,' they didn't really mean all people."

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"The men who signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, only thought that white people were equal."

"What do you mean?" she asked again.

I realized that the concept of "white" hadn't yet colonized her mind.

"The thought only men with light-colored skin like them were equal. They thought it was OK to steal the land of the beautiful brown-skinned native people who were here first, and they thought it was OK to enslave the wonderful black-skinned people they kidnapped from Africa."

"That was so unfair!" she said.

"That's what it was," I agreed. "That's why we have to work really hard to be sure America is better in the future that it has been in the past, so that in the new America, all people are treated with ..."

She finished my sentence: "Kindness."

"That's it," I said.

My granddaughter is half European (I want to avoid using the racial term "white" in the future - believing that whiteness itself is a polluted construct). Her other half is Korean, and even though I don't think she has any real concept yet of whiteness, raciality or bi-raciality, I do think she is being formed in the mindset, not of the old racist America, but of a new America with liberty and justice for all.

My granddaughter gives me hope.

Yes, America's history is racist. No honest or rational person could question that fact. And yes, American's present is racist too, with America's current president and his sycophantic Congress proclaiming their nostalgia for that racist time.

And yes, sadly, a lot of the festivities yesterday celebrated that nostalgia.

And yes, Max Boot, a conservative commentator, spoke truly of the Republican Party today (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/max-boot-democrat-midterm-takeover_us_5b3d7b35e4b09e4a8b29d1cb), when he said:

“Now it’s a white-nationalist party with a conservative fringe... The current GOP still has a few resemblances to the party of old — it still cuts taxes and supports conservative judges. But a vote for the GOP in November is also a vote for egregious obstruction of justice, rampant conflicts of interest, the demonization of minorities, the debasement of political discourse, the alienation of America’s allies, the end of free trade and the appeasement of dictators."

All that is true. And it can't be denied.

But it's not the whole truth.

 

My granddaughter represents a possible future for America that we can encourage and tend.

The future can be different.

It can.

+++++

If you want to charge up your hope in that better future today, I hope you'll invest 32 minutes in this sermon by my friend Otis Moss III.

This is, in short, one of the best sermons I've ever heard.

Check out "This is America, But Don't Lose Hope."
https://soundcloud.com/otismossiii/thisisamerica

Otis exegetes Matthew 25 alongside a video by Childish Gambino. I promise you - you'll be glad you listened from start to end.

We have lots of packed churches. But how many impact churches will we have in the years ahead?

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Q & R: Sorry, I’m not going to answer this, and here’s why …

Here's the Q:
My mom gave me your book, The Great Spiritual Migration, to read. Scanning it, it seems you are replacing existing creeds with your own new one?

I am skeptical, so can you state in a paragraph or two, or point me to them, of exactly what you are saying.

Have seen the challenges of religion, have seen how denominationalism created divisions but prevented burnings at the stake, and have seen brilliant and loving leaders handle the gospel and the existence of an intimate God with excellence.

How would you summarize your final proposition, and given your lengthy journey with so many changes to date, is this your final landing point or maybe the next in what you are thinking through?

Here's the R:
Thanks for your questions, but I'm sorry, I won't be answering them. And I thought I should explain why.

You say that you skimmed my book, which means you didn't actually read it. Your comment about creeds makes that point especially clear.

And now you're asking me to summarize it in a paragraph or two?

I don't write books to tell people what to think, nor do I write books so that people don't need to think on their own.

I write books for the same reason I love to read books - I like to think, and books help me do so.

I love to spend time in the company of a writer who has thought about things I haven't thought about, or who sees from a vantage point from which I've never seen.

So that's why I write, to do for others what I enjoy people doing for me.

One of my mentors said, "Learning isn't a consequence of teaching and listening (or writing and reading), but of thinking."

To help people learn, I try to stimulate their thinking, and books are one channel for doing that.

I heard a story about someone asking a dancer if he could explain the meaning of his dance. "If I could have explained it, I wouldn't have danced it," he said. I suppose the same thing applies to writers. If I could have stimulated the learning I was hoping for in a paragraph, I would have written a paragraph, not a book.

I assume you didn't mean for your question to be insulting or demeaning, but it would be easy to take it that way. Something to keep in mind ...

I thought that this feedback would be more helpful than anything I could say as a direct answer to your questions.

On the positive side, even your skimming of the book seems to have gotten you thinking, and that's a good thing. And it took some energy or initiative to write to me, and that's a good thing too. God bless.

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