More from readers … comments and a question

When I mentioned the other day that New Kind of Christian was reaching its 10-year anniversary, several folks wrote in. This from the Netherlands:

I just wanted to write you to thank you. You mentioned next year it will be 10 years ago that you started with the Trilogy “A New Kind Of Christian”. A month ago my son wrote in a testimony that these books, that I gave him, have been instrumental in reviving his faith, together with some of Henri Nouwen’s and even with some discussions with me. I guess it all fitted together.
Anyway, I know you get more than your fair share of criticism, so let me be one of those who sends encouragement. Keep on thinking and writing!

Another reader responds to Secret Message of Jesus:

This is a first for me. I’ve been an avid reader all my life (half a century now), but never have I read a book that has moved and inspired me to so many happy tears. I have never thanked an author for his words. I feel I must at least thank you for writing this book, though I’m certain you have been ridiculed and scoffed at for your deep thinking and courageous interpretation of Christ’s words. I am talking about The Secret Message of Jesus, which I just finished this week.
I’ve also been drawn to Him since a little girl, could hear and feel the harmony of our Creation just humming in the fields and woods in Pennsylvania where I grew up, and something joyous always spoke to me and kept my spirit uplifted and peaceful. My mother and my sister thought I was crazy, weak, and useless. I could not articulate to them what I felt, though my mother used to watch in morbid misunderstanding as I danced around the living room with scarves from her drawer, so filled with this exhilarating joy that I couldn’t contain it. She thought I was going to be a Rockette! I used to get up and walk the mile to the one room Presbyterian Church in my rural neighborhood on Sundays, so drawn was I. At times I have been too distracted to continue my search for understanding, but in latter years, have felt drawn once more to His teachings and the mysterious Truth that lies within His words. I have read numerous books on all types of subjects. They have barely scratched the surface until I read yours.
Your book opened a wide chasm of perspective and understanding, underlying the Truth of His Word. Often, we do struggle with His parables, and what He actually means by them. The beauty of His words is timeless and reverberates to what is inside all of us, and one just knows that Truth is within them, if we could only decipher them into clarity. Your book presented the history and Jesus’s perspective crucial to understanding that the Kingdom is within all of us, now!
It is so simple, is it not, to be kind to others, to treat them as we wish to be treated, created in His image as we are? Why then, is it so difficult for others? Why is it that America can provide funds so that a man can walk on the moon, yet countless children and human beings are dying from hunger, disease, and suffering? It is because our priorities just aren’t in order. Man, in his attempt to become Creator, has largely ignored what is most important and valued – human life. Thanks and praise be to Him who hasn’t forgotten us. Thanks and praise to Him for your inspired work, Pastor McLaren. I will read all of your books and now your blog. I wish to read the works of the philosophers you have mentioned in your book, Wink and Lewis and others. Most importantly, I will spread the word and the joy that accompanies them.

Thanks so much for your encouragement. It means a lot to me!
This reader asks a question:

Let me just come out and confess that I am not a “Christian” in the sense that most use the word, but your books have worked a great deal on my heart and sense of hope, (I especially enjoyed “Generous Orthodoxy” and can’t wait to read NKC) and I continue to enjoy them and suggest them to my relatives. Thank you for all that you are doing in an open-hearted and engaged manner.
My question for you today is whether or not you have looked into or find any value with the Aramaic biblical scholarship that has become sort of vogue (in certain circles)? The works of people such as Rocco Errico, a Phd & ThD scholar working from the original Aramaic Peshitta texts or George M. Lamsa who discusses Aramaic primacy.
As Aramaic was the lingua franca of the Levant during Jesus’ life time, wouldn’t it behoove those interested to understand the Bible, to learn the quirks and idioms of their linguistic (and often poetic) approach to sacred texts? As Lamsa writes: all languages of the world, ancient or modern have idioms, metaphors and mannerisms of speech that are unique. They are always known to be the single strongest barrier to mastering a foreign language.
“Let there be Light” becomes “Let there be Enlightenment or, let there be understanding”….
I know Lamsa himself is not highly regarded in the field by some, but what do you think of this idea of Aramaic being the language of the earliest gospels instead of Koine Greek? Do you think looking at the text imbued with the near eastern colloquialisms could reveal new messages?
Thank you for your time! Blessings to you during this bright season.

Thanks for your note. Yes, I agree with you – this is an important area to consider. I’m not familiar with Lamsa’s work, but have seen in a lot of the scholarly books I read important references to the Aramaic behind the Greek. I think your comment will stimulate the thinking of many readers of this blog – thanks!