NKOCy review, and comments from a Jewish reader …

Here’s a review of A New Kind of Christianity from the Beatitudes Society, an organization you should know about.
And here is a note from a Jewish reader: (reply after the jump)

Hi Mr. McLaren,
I have always thought that Christians have misunderstood everything
that Jesus said. I’m a Jew, so I have always read the NT like a Jew.
I’ve tried to discuss my ideas with my Christian friends only to get
responses and reactions similar to what you got, except that I also
get people saying that I should come to see things their way and be
converted. I get that from my Jehova Witnesses friends, from my
Pentacostal friends, from my Mexican friends (I think they might be
Catholics), and at a Bible church that I visited one Sunday (I like to
go to churches), a pastor told me “I will pray for you, because you
are going to hell.”
I don’t know about hell (I don’t believe in it–would you burn off your
hand if it dropped something?), but I never went back to that church
I finally decided that Christianity is a lie. It isn’t the religion of Jesus.
That was Judaism. It isn’t a Judaism for non Jews. If I were a
Christian, I would have wanted long ago to start a new religion–
maybe I would have called it Jesusism.
Oh, yes, my question. I do have one.
When I think of the pogroms, the Inquisitions, the Crusades, and
the missionaries that try so hard to convert Jews (I think that is so
disrespectful), the destruction of the Native American populations
in North, Central and South America, and the abuse of black people
as part of having slaves, I have to wonder in what ways Christianity
has blessed the world.
I know that great work is done in America now. But is it Christianity
that blesses the world or just good people?
I wish you all the best and thank you so much for sharing your ideas
in your book

Reply after the jump.

Thanks for your thoughts, and your question.
First, I want to say how happy I am when Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, and people of other backgrounds read my books. I don’t think the way ahead lies within the confines of any organization or religious hierarchy … I think God is at work all over the place, moving (as Jesus said) like the wind, flowing like water, even surprising like wine.
Second, I want to agree with you – everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian needs to pay attention to exactly the issues you pointed toward – the terrible atrocities perpetuated in the name of the Christian religion, just as you say – pogroms, inquisitions, etc. If we don’t face the mentality and theology that undergirded these atrocities, we will repeat them. In fact, we are repeating history in many ways now, as we speak.
Third, I think you’re asking a really worthwhile question. Does God want “Christianity” – or any other religion – to get the “credit” for doing good in the world? Or should the credit for goodness to go its ultimate source, which isn’t a religion, but rather the Creator?
A friend of mine says that first we humbly seek for God. Then we humbly speak with God. Soon, though, we may proudly speak for God … and then we arrogantly speak as if we were God! It reminds me of the old line from a Peter, Paul, and Mary song (Hymn):

Passing conversations
Where they mentioned your existence
And the fact that you had been replaced
By your assistants.

Many of us – inside and outside of so-called “organized religion” – are reaching the same conclusion. It’s the Spirit that matters most – the wine – not the bottle in which it is carried. When any religion tries to take the credit for goodness in the world, it’s on pretty dangerous ground, I’d say. Christianity – like any other religion – will be at its best when it seeks to cooperate with and support the good that God’s Spirit is inspiring in the world, wherever that may be. Thank God for the millions of places where that’s already happening, and may it happen ever more!