Brian D. McLaren is a best-selling author, speaker, activist and networker among innovative faith leaders. A former pastor, he has written 15 books, including The Great Spiritual Migration. He is an Auburn Senior Fellow, living in Florida.

Posts By This Author

Budgets Are Still Moral Documents

by Brian McLaren 02-28-2011
The "What Would Jesus Cut?" campaign, launched by Jim Wallis and the good people of Sojourners, assumes that

What Does Violence in the Bible Tell Us About God?

by Brian McLaren 01-03-2011

I recently received a note from a pastor and missionary we'll call Pete.

Is God Violent?

by Brian McLaren 01-01-2011
What does the violence in the Bible tell us about the nature of God?
mjones / Shutterstock

mjones / Shutterstock

I recently received a note from a pastor and missionary we'll call Pete. It went like this: "I have read most of what you have written, including A New Kind of Christianity ... I would say I am in agreement with [much of what you write], but I do think you bring disservice to this argument in the evangelical world when you shun the 'violence' of God and the subsequent need for the cross' justification, which was also quite violent."

He continued: "You have a lot to say to the church, but when you make these kind of statements that don't really appear to hold weight under the plethora of biblical examples, it mutes your voice. The fact is the Old Testament is a God-ordained bloody mess, and the cross is the ultimate expression of it. This only highlights God's holiness, and when we try to mitigate this reality to save him from a secular mind, we mitigate the power of the cross as well, and end up with a less powerful narrative."

I don't know which shocks you more -- that I would question God's violence, or that Pete would defend it. My guess is that nearly all of us would be shocked one way or the other.

If you ask why this question is so important, I think "Sept. 11" is a good answer. Since then, we've been marinating in the issue of religious violence, day after day. One day we see a shaky video from the Middle East featuring terrorists blowing up a humvee, with shouts of "Allahu Akbar!" ("God is great!") in the background. Another day we hear a famous Christian televangelist say, "Blow them all away in the name of the Lord." Another day we read about Israel Defense Forces destroying the homes of Palestinians, defending their actions on the grounds that God promised them the land 4,000 years ago. And the day after that, we hear another Christian televangelist defending their actions, and urging the U.S. to join Israel in a war against Iran.

A lot is at stake.

American 'Exceptionalism' Can Degenerate Into Superiority

by Brian McLaren 12-03-2010
There has been a fascinating and important dialogue going on this week over at the Washington Post's On Faith

What I've Been Reading This Year

by Brian McLaren 09-29-2010
What a great year for books. I've been enjoying some new ones and some old ones lately. Here are a few in various categories.

Post-Colonial Theology

by Brian McLaren 09-15-2010
[Editor's Note: Emergent Village will be hosting its annual Theological Conversation this year in Atlanta, Ge

Flipped: A Film Review

by Brian McLaren 09-08-2010

A lot of contemporary movies picture American suburban life as banal, hypocritical, and morally bankrupt -- a deceitful place where manicured landscapes and plastic surgery cover up empty, desperate realities.

We Need a Clean Energy Conversion

by Brian McLaren 08-10-2010
We need a clean energy conversion.

The Importance of Being Engineers

by Brian McLaren 07-16-2010
I often say that one of my favorite parts of being a pastor for 24 years was pronouncing the benediction each week at the end of gathered worship.

11 Women Writers You Should Be Reading

by Brian McLaren 07-12-2010
Here are some of my favorite women writers of spirituality and theology in no particular order with short comments on why I recommend them.

My Initial Response to President Obama's Speech

by Brian McLaren 06-16-2010
I was glad the president emphasized the need to break our addiction to oil in his speech last night, and I thought he did a good job of demonstrating commitment to the people of the Gulf region.

An Oily, Slimy, Putrid Epiphany

by Brian McLaren 06-11-2010

Joanna Weiss asks the right question in a recent Boston Globe editorial:

Is Nature Worth Saving?

by Brian McLaren 06-08-2010

The Gulf Oil Spill as Seen from Africa

by Brian McLaren 05-06-2010
I'm in Kenya with a group of about 150 emerging leaders from across East and South Africa.

Is the Emerging Church for Whites Only?

To survive in a quickly diversifying global church, the emerging church movement must do a better job of opening up its doors—and pursuing justice.
STILLFX / Shutterstock

STILLFX / Shutterstock

AT THE TURN of the millennium, I (Soong-Chan) began hearing a lot about the “emerging church.” It seemed that everywhere I turned somebody was talking about the emerging church. A clear definition of the term was elusive (see “What is the Emerging Church?” by Julie Clawson, below), but the emerging church seemed to reflect ministry and theology rising out of the generation after the baby boomers. In particular, the emerging church was Western Christianity’s attempt to navigate through the context of an emerging postmodern culture.

At the time the emerging church was coming into vogue, I was pastoring a multi-ethnic, urban church plant in the Boston area. It seemed that every brochure for nearly every pastors’ conference I received featured the emerging church. As I began to attend some of those conferences, I noticed that every single speaker who claimed to represent the emerging church was a white male. A perception was forming that this was a movement and conversation occurring only in the white community.
 In terms of the public face of the emerging church, white males dominated.
On one occasion, I was at an emerging church conference and was told directly that non-whites were not of any significance in the emerging church. Granted, this was one specific instance, but it led to the sense that the emerging church was not a welcoming place for ethnic minorities. At another conference, on the future of the church, one of the speakers invited up a blond-haired, 29-year-old, white male, replete with cool glasses and a goatee, and pronounced him the face of the emerging church. “This guy is a great representative of the future of American Christianity.” I cringed. In terms of the public face of the emerging church, white males dominated. It seemed like the same old, same old. As per the lyrics by The Who: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

Turning the Tables of White-European-Male-Privilege: 'Our' Tables, 'Their' Tables, and New Tables

by Brian McLaren 04-22-2010

Christian Militias, Revelation, and Christ's Consistent Nonviolence

by Brian McLaren 03-29-2010
One of the most important subjects addressed in my recent book http://www.amazon.com/New-Kind-Christianity-Questions-Transforming/dp/00...

Bearing Witness Against Cyber-Smears in the Immigration Debate

by Brian McLaren 03-04-2010
Isn't there something in the Bible about not bearing false witness?

Is it Really Better -- Even Financially -- to Give than to Receive?

by Brian McLaren 03-04-2010

Can We Talk?

by Brian McLaren 03-01-2010

The Manhattan Declaration’s harder challenge.