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Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  955 Ratings  ·  138 Reviews
When four religious leaders walk across the road, it's not the beginning of a joke. It's the start of one of the most important conversations in today's world.

Can you be a committed Christian without having to condemn or convert people of other faiths? Is it possible to affirm other religious traditions without watering down your own?

In his most important book yet, widel
ebook, 224 pages
Published September 11th 2012 by Jericho Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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David A.
Oct 31, 2012 David A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I once read about a time that Allen Ginsberg was crossing the quad of a college somewhere, and a student called out to him, "Hey Ginsberg, what do you think of so-and-so's latest book?" Ginsberg didn't know the book, but he knew the author, and he gathered from the student's tone that the student was looking for a little trouble. So Ginsberg responded, "Whatever he's doing, I'm for him."

I think Ginsberg sounded a little like Jesus when he said that--not necessarily (though not unnecessarily) in
Charles Dean
Oct 04, 2012 Charles Dean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
I frequently tell people that the mark of a good book isn't that you agree with everything the author says, or that you "buy" all the author's arguments, or even that you were convinced to change your view on something. No, the mark of a great book, in my opinion,is it causes you to THINK. This is what I love most about Brian McLaren - he graciously challenges me to rethink my faith and the world. This book is challenging, but oh-so-timely and relevant. It's an important conversation that is hap ...more
Dave McNeely
Sep 07, 2012 Dave McNeely rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, when I picked up this book, I can't say I had much interest in it (world religions as a topic has generally not piqued my interest much). But after reading the first few pages, I was hooked and could hardly put it down. What McLaren offers in this beautifully benevolent and insightful groundbreaking work is a re-examination of Christian faith in light of a religiously diverse world, asking whether or not Christianity is meant to have a hostile or benevolent posture toward other faiths ...more
Lee Harmon
Sep 22, 2012 Lee Harmon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

We have just enough religion to make us hate but not enough to make us love one another. --Jonathan Swift

What does it mean to be a Christian in a multi-faith world? In a world that keeps shrinking, McLaren draws us back to Christian neighborly principles, encouraging respect and interfaith understanding, but without sacrificing our allegiance to Christ. While it may be true that fostering an us-versus-them atmosphere strengthens the walls and adds purpose to our lives, this does not mean it's th
Bishop Bergland
This book may well be an adequate primer for evangelicals who have never considered cooperation with people from other traditions in a meaningful way, but if you have thought about such things for more than five minutes this book is a waste of time and you will see it as simplistic and unrealistic.

My biggest complaint is that for a book purporting to be about Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith world, it spends the vast majority of its pages attempting to re-define conventional, conservative, ev
Aug 14, 2012 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Well it is no big secret that I love this book. I loved it from the day the proposal hit my desk and I am delighted with the final result. I am a McLaren reader and I have the utmost respect for the man. This, in my humble opinion, is the best thing that Brian has ever written. So far...
Jan 09, 2013 MGMaudlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the big idea at the heart of the book--that we should question our tribal and oppositional Christian identities and reinterpret them in nontribal ways. Amen and amen. Still, I thought Brian was a little too heady/abstract at times and went down too many rabbit trails, which prolonged the book. I also wish he was more careful in how he constructed the book since some may interpret him as being arrogant (since he is the hero/ideal/solution to all the problems), but he certainly is not arro ...more
Andrew Marr
Very clear an easy-to-read introduction to Christian dialog with other religions. A valuable book on an important topic for our time. McLaren does much to build empathy for other points of view & traditions without losing focus as a follower of Christ. Extensive use is made of René Girard's thought, helping to pave the way for using Girard's theory constructively in inter-religious dialogue.
Jul 05, 2012 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Bill by: Requested From Author
See my review at

It is a pre- pub review. A PHENOMENAL read!!! PRE-order now!!! Available September 11, 2012... Buy a few to give away to others.

I had the privilege to read an Advance Uncorrected Proof of Brian Mclaren‘s new book: “Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? (Published by Jericho Books – Hachette Book Group – Available September 11, 2012). Here’s my review. I call it, “A Call to Prayer With Your Feet:”

Subversive friend
Malin Friess
Jan 14, 2013 Malin Friess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brian McLaren was an unknown pastor until 2005 when Time listed him as one of the top 50 most influential Christian Leaders. He was at a evangelical pastors gathering and asked to declare his position on homosexuality. He responded by saying: "The thing that breaks my heart is that there is no way to answer that question without hurting someone else on the other side." This "tension" branded him the label from Time as a "kinder and gentler brand of religion."

McLaren at the time was a leader or t
Growing up in a Christian home I eventually, like most kids, began to question the faith I had been taught. Some stories of questioning begin with taking a biology class and learning about evolution. This was never a problem for me. I always figured that the truth of falsity of evolution had little to do with the central claims of Christian faith. For me the questions always revolved around other religions.

If I believe Jesus is the savior of the world, is unique, what does this say about other w
M Christopher
Aug 05, 2015 M Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, ministerial
Brian McLaren and I are roughly the same age and we both grew up in conservative evangelical churches (although mine were, for the most part, a little more liberal than those he experienced, I think). We both became second-career pastors. And we both, at roughly the same time, came to question a good deal of the doctrine that we had assumed was necessary based on our youthful learning. Every time I read one of his books, I think, "Here's my brother on a very similar path."

"Why Did Jesus..." cont
Dec 14, 2012 Jo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting, thought-provoking, hopeful book for our time. McClaren makes an argument that God wishes Christians to love our neighbors, to live responsibly in a pluralistic society, yet not lose our Christian identity in the process. He begins the book by exploring the hostility and violence we see around us. He then moves into practical suggestions on how to build a strong faith identity with a benevolent posture, rather than hostility, toward other faiths, and how NOT to weaken your faith iden ...more
Jun 29, 2016 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has been life changing for me. For anyone who is dealing with interfaith relationships, or struggling with any "them" and "us" issues, this is for you. I realize that the author has been dissed by certain Evangelicals for advocating a new kind of Christianity, but in truth, he is advocating paying attention to the message of Jesus, and living in love and cooperation. If we could share the gifts of our beliefs, without agenda, and work toward common goals without hostility, can you imag ...more
Scott Brazil
Jan 11, 2013 Scott Brazil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As you can expect from anything written by Brian McLaren, the reader will be both challenged and inspired by what you find in the book. I was particularly intrigued by his argument that Constanstine's "conversion" laid the seeds for later hostitlities between Islam and Christianity. Also, I should add that this book got me to think not so much about interreligious relations but, more specifically, the "other" that seems to get my blood boiling in my own religious tradition and how I need to resp ...more
Sep 07, 2013 Casie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
So this is theological, and I don't have a shelf for that yet. But the premise is how would each of these religious leaders interact if confronted with each other. The conclusion that McLaren proposes is that they would cross the street (from their various corners) and find common ground. And yet, Bill O'Reilly is selling more books. I don't get it.
Apr 02, 2013 Chantal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-improvement
If the premise of a good book is that it makes you think and question, then this is a great book.

Thought-provoking, spiritually motivating,and a thinking mans/woman's book, told in simple language, with a regular dose of humour. The footnotes, will have me finding additional books to read, for many months to come.
Jun 07, 2013 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best and most thought-provoking books I have read. Wow!
Now, I do not agree with everything he says, but what a presentation of how people of faith should be acting. Can pretty much be summed up in the "old" WWJD movement.
Jay Hershberger
Sep 16, 2012 Jay Hershberger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just into the beginning of this book, but McLaren does not disappoint. In fact, this may be one of the most important books to come from this provocative and challenging author. Worth the time.
Apr 24, 2013 Christy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This started out great, but I got bored quickly by the repetition and didn't finish.
Jul 17, 2016 Jenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Challenging, insightful, practical...full of the spirit of Love
Oct 07, 2012 Sueek20 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heard him speak in D.C. last week. Very intriguing viewpoint on religious tolerance post 9/11.
Oct 19, 2016 Ken rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In such a divisive world, McLaren makes a strong point of love and unity through the study of Christ and a new Christology, while explaining historically where our divisiveness has originated. Very good book for these times.
P.D. Bekendam
Sep 02, 2014 P.D. Bekendam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From my blog at

In my last post I confessed I have been wrestling with a serious identity crisis. Should I still call myself a Christian even though I seem to be on the fringes of what is required/accepted by the gatekeepers of mainstream Christendom? Should I follow in Anne Rice’s footsteps when she wrote:

"Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being 'Christian' or to being part of Christianity. It's simply im
- advocates for a "strong/benevolent" Christianity. Strong/hostile is fundamentalist, Weak/benign is tolerant but gets rid of Christianity to do this

- Haidt - "The key to understanding tribal behaviour is not money, it's sacredness. The great trick that humans developed at some point in the last few hundred thousand years is the ability to circle around a tree, rock, ancestor, flag, book, or god, and then treat that thing as sacred. PePle who worship the same idol an trust one another, work as a
Sep 18, 2016 Tracy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some things Brian McLaren is very confused about, in no particular order: the Bible, biblical criticism, hermeneutics, etymology, theology, doctrine, church history, ecumenicism, other religions, the definition of "gospel", John the Baptist, Jesus, the Gospels, the Bible (Old and New Testaments), evangelism, economics, colonialism, politics, prejudice, psychology, and much else.

Some things Brian McLaren is not confused about, in no particular order: his certainty that his critics don't understan
Michael Clevenger
Oct 23, 2012 Michael Clevenger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed Brian's newest book on Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World. In a witty tongue-in-cheek manner he addresses a strong benevolent Christian identity around the joke, "Why did the chicken cross the road".

In the beginning chapter I enjoyed this passage, that set the tone for the book.

"If you're a Christian like me, of whatever sort--Catholic, Protestant or Eastern Orthodox; conservative, liberal, or moderate; traditional or whatever--if you love Jesus, if you know and have
Dec 01, 2012 Pearl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title is kind of catchy even if it's an old joke that's a bit trite, and often not that funny. But I'll bite - what's the answer?

McLaren asks us to imagine what would happen if four of the world's greatest religious leaders met on a road. Since his book is addressed to the Christian world, he asks if Christians think Jesus would push Moses aside, telling him that his religion and laws have been superceded; or would he trade insults with Mohammed, claiming that Christian crusaders could whip
Keith Madsen
Feb 18, 2013 Keith Madsen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brian McLaren, along with Rob Bell (author of LOVE WINS), is one of the premier popular Christian voices in calling for a more compassionate and inclusive Christian faith. In a world where so many lesser Christian voices are escalating hostilities by picketing military funerals and burning the holy books of other faiths, or throwing gasoline on the flames of Middle East tensions between Muslim and Jew; such a voice is vitally needed. McLaren is not one to advocate an innocuous blending of all re ...more
Dec 28, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McLaren seeks to answer the question how do we maintain Christian identity without compromising in a pluralistic world. Perhaps the deeper journey is how do we do this that is still gospel for those that aren't Christian. Most answers have been to either diminish Christ or to flatline all paths or to make the Christian journey a game of us versus them. In all three of the above systems, it leaves the gospel neutered and for the most part doesn't represent the gospel at all for those that are out ...more
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Brian D. McLaren is an internationally known speaker and the author of over ten highly acclaimed books on contemporary Christianity, including A New Kind of Christian, A Generous Orthodoxy, and The Secret Message of Jesus.
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“Imagine if organized religion organized billions of people and trillions of dollars to tackle the challenges that our economic and political systems are afraid or unwilling to tackle—a planet ravaged by unsustainable human behavior and an out-of-control consumptive economy, the growing gap between the rich minority and the poor majority, and the proliferation of weapons of all kinds—including weapons of mass destruction. “Wow,” people frequently say when I propose these possibilities. “If they did that, I might become religious again.” Some quickly add, “But I won’t hold my breath. It’ll never happen.” 4 likes
“The scarily brilliant Romantic poet and visionary William Blake dared to say what many of us have perhaps thought but kept to ourselves: “A good local pub has much in common with a church, except that a pub is warmer, and there’s more conversation.” 4 likes
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