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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2007
I'm not a Christian. Having said that I do believe that Jesus Christ is the most perfect being to have ever walked on the face of the earth. And I also believe that he died that I may be saved. On a daily basis I do my best to put my trust in God.

However, Christianity for me has always been about being good enough for heaven or being doomed to hell. And I'm sorry but I don't accept that. And that's why I don't call myself a Christian.

This book will take seekers away from the evangelistic portrayal of Christianity to a new and more encompassing understanding of why God sent his only son to pay such an awful price for our sins.

This book is much more than another attempt to get us hooked on religion. Indeed I don't think it would have too much success if that was its aims. Instead Mr McLaren uncovers what Jesus was about, what he stood for and what his vision for the world consisted of. Reading it with acceptance will take you to a new understanding of what it is to be human.

This is a fresh approach and it works.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 24 February 2007
I've often puzzled at why the church seems so different from what I read in the Gospels. Church tends to focus on Jesus saving our sins etc. What I'm interested in is what Jesus said about how to live our life - being kind, giving, humble, welcoming to prostitutes etc. The author agrees and is also a vicar and learned man of God so it made an interesting, and at times inspiring, read. I did lose the thread occasionally in the first half but the second half is excellent. If you're not Christian (and I'm not really) then it might be a tad too focused on scripture as the means to get a message across. However the author is a very good writer, which makes it a great read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 May 2009
This book gripped me straight away and took me on a journey of exploration. Brian Mclaren challenges you to 'really look' at scripture and historical accounts rather than simply reading and accepting on a conscious/superficial level. Terms such as 'The Kingdom of God' & Jesus Parables' are thoroughly examined, resulting in insightful reflection and deeper understanding. As a christian looking to enhance my relationship with the living God, this book provided the stimulus and pathway. An enthralling read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2009
I feel a little guilty for giving this book only a 3 star rating. It is a 'must read'for those evangelicals who have begun to wonder whether there is more to the Gospel than they have been taught. For such people, this book could transform the way they understand Christianity forever! And for the better.

My reservations focus upon the author's apparent suggestion that his insights are in some way new. Perhaps, given his status as an evangelical writer and preacher, he is reluctant to admit it, but he says nothing that 'liberal' Christian thinkers have not argued for many decades.

I am also a little irritated that McLaren (like the Fundamentalists he decries) ignores Biblical scholarship by accepting that Jesus said the words attributed to him in the Gospels.I get the feeling that within McLaren is a Christian 'liberal' struggling to come out.

Still, despite my criticisms, the book is a worthy read. Evangelicals will (I hope) find it an eye-opener. Other Christians will be pleasantly surprised at how far some evangelical teachers have come in their appreciation of the life and teaching of Jesus.

Overall, I enjoyed the Book and found it useful and inspiring.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 14 September 2006
I have been a fan of Mclaren since being introduced to the "New Kind of Christian" trilogy. Whilst the discussions in these books rang true with me, I found the underlying messages difficult to assemble into a coherent whole. In the "Secret Message" Mclaren resolves this for me.

However, this is no dry textbook. It is set of challenges to me to go away and re-read the gospels and the rest of the New Testament and do some real thinking. It will disturb the comfortable religious traditions and ways that we all have grown up with. But that is a good thing and makes faith stronger.

I am now on my second reading and by coincidence I have been finishing off Karen Armstrong's "The Battle for God". Her historical account shows us how Jesus's message has been distorted and abused over the centuries by politicians, priests, fundamentalists of all persuasions, evangelists etc. By stark contrast, Mclaren's book explores and opens up what he believes Jesus really wanted us to understand.

Sadly the vocal tele-evangelists, fundamentalists and other religious authorities are likely to condemn this book outright, fearing perhaps that the people in the pews might start to think for themselves.

I have one criticism. The book's title and cover are more suggestive of a book such as the "Da Vinci" code. Nothing could be further from the truth. Perhaps the publishers wanted a more eye-catching title than some of McLaren's earlier works!
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on 22 March 2006
I've been fortunate to be able to read a pre-release galley of Brian McLaren's new book, the Secret Message of Jesus.
The title seems a little too like Steve Chalke's 'Lost Message of Jesus', and I'm not keen on the title itself, using the word secret. Having said that, when you read the book, and explore the message of Jesus, historically, theologically, biblically as the book does, you could be left thinking, I wish more people new about this.
It's not an emerging church book, and will lay out for a lot of people what Brian believes about Jesus, the Gospel, and christian mission. I found it greatly inspiring and gave me an understanding of Jesus, his connection to the church, and mission throughout history, and our hope in him for holistic life and mission today.
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on 30 October 2009
Secret Message is well written, accessible, entertaining and light-hearted. I combines a mix of basic historical analysis with McLaren's liberal theology and while this might seem contradictory from the outset and incredibly biased in terms of ideology the book offers an optimistic and positive reason for and purpose of the Christian faith.
There are problems with the idea, just google the man's name and rifle through the criticisms, but I think that there's something appealing about the idea. The focus shifts completely away from hell and damnation onto building a better world. And at the risk of spoilers, this is exactly what McLaren believes that Jesus' message is: the Kingdom (though McLaren believes that the use of such ancient terminology is outdated for today) of God is at hand... be part of its construction.
Overall a thoroughly enjoyable book to read and filled with hopeful gems of thought. you may not agree with everything but I think it's impossible to deny that a Christianity united in such an outwardly constructive way could change the world for the better. The Secret Message of Jesus is, at the risk of heresy, a liberal bible for The Bible.
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on 28 March 2010
This book focusses on what Jesus set and did, set against the cultural of his day. By careful analysis, it reveals the revolutionary nature of his life and teaching and shows how far the Christian communities over time have wandered from this. Written to challenge the cultural norms of 21st century expressions of Christianity, this book offers a fresh agenda which is much more realistically based on what Jesus actually said and did. A brilliant book.
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on 1 May 2013
As usual Brian McLaren swings a curved ball.
I love the challenge and the way he thinks, but got a bit fed up with the repeating title throughout.
Still a great read and a fresh way to look at how we work out our faith in fast changing times.
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on 21 June 2013
Very interesting book and easy read intellectually but challenging for life! Kingdom of God theology which potentially offers a fresh way of thinking about Jesus- depending on your current view!
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