I wonder if there are not many Sojourners readers who were dismayed with Brian McLaren’s essay in the March 2006 issue (“Found in Translation”)? McLaren believes there is a “secret message” in the gospel. The idea of secret messages certainly has its appeal—witness the huge sales of the novel The Da Vinci Code. Decoding Jesus’ secret message has been the project of various gnostic movements from the early days of Christianity until now. One of the startling things about authentic Christianity is that there is no secret. Participate in the ordinary life of the church. Receive and try to live the gospel. There is no inside information that will be revealed to you as you enter into deeper circles of initiation and learn all the secret handshakes.
McLaren is put off by Jesus’ vocabulary and would like to revise the gospel text to make it fit his linguistic preferences. Scrap kingdom of God; instead let’s have dream of God, the revolution of God, the network of God, or the wish of God.
None of them rings any bells for me, but possibly revolution is the worst. Have we not had enough revolutions to be a bit cautious about their benefits? No one has yet been able to reliably count, even to the nearest million, how many perished in the Russian Revolution.
Alkmaar, The Netherlands
Brian McLaren responds to Jim Forest’s letter:
Jim Forest: I wonder if there are not many readers of Sojourners who were dismayed with Brian McLaren’s essay in the March 2006 issue (“Found in Translation”)?