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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  ·  902 Ratings  ·  134 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
Hardcover, 276 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
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
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
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

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
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
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.
M Christopher
Aug 05, 2015 M Christopher rated it it was amazing
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
Malin Friess
Jan 14, 2013 Malin Friess rated it really liked it
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
Jul 05, 2012 Bill rated it it was amazing
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
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
Dec 14, 2012 Jo rated it really liked it
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
Scott Brazil
Jan 11, 2013 Scott Brazil rated it really liked it
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
P.D. Bekendam
Sep 02, 2014 P.D. Bekendam rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 09, 2014 Teresa added it
Shelves: faith
- 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
May 24, 2016 Julie rated it really liked it
As a book, this sometimes got a bit repetitive, but I think this topic opens up a conversation that is incredibly important. I applaud McLaren for going there. I immediately recommended this to a friend who I talk with at length each week about this exact topic. I belong to a very exclusive religion, and yet, I abhor religious exclusivity. It leaves me incredibly torn. I have been guilty of going all in and falling into the “us vs. them” mentality, and at other times I have become so disgusted w ...more
Sep 07, 2013 Casie rated it liked it
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.
David Morman
Aug 10, 2014 David Morman rated it it was amazing
Sometimes a book I need to read finds me at just the right time. That’s the case with this one. Maybe you are also disturbed by all the conflicts and wars in the news. Perhaps you also feel alienated by religion that defines itself by who or what it opposes or that prides itself on its superiority/hostility/violence towards the unbeliever or “the others.” Those situations are clearly evident in the Middle East but are also traits Christianity has been infected with since Constantine. This book i ...more
Anne Jordan-Baker
Apr 11, 2014 Anne Jordan-Baker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity
Thank god for Brian McLaren's Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? Having just had a brush (in another book) with the Bad-Jesus-Who-Is-the-President-of-the-Universe-Whether-You-Like-It-Or-Not, I needed something...else.

McLaren's book ushered into my life the holy spirit, who descended upon my head in the form of a dove (or a parrot) and said, "Oh, forget about that. I'm a bird, and I'm on your head! Isn't that funny?!"

"Yes," I would say, "that is funny indeed. And it'
Apr 02, 2013 Chantal rated it really liked it
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.
Tania Leis
Jan 03, 2016 Tania Leis rated it really liked it
I'm somewhat new to writing reviews but here are a few of my thoughts...
Definitely a good read. Lots to mull through and over. I said after part 1 that I had questions and I still do. I think before agreeing to and pushing solidarity between religions, Christians need to put aside the denominations or "clan-nishness" and stand together in the name of Jesus.
But absolutely agree with working together for a common global good including peace, end of poverty etc.
Would have liked more of a Biblical
Jun 07, 2013 Heather rated it it was amazing
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
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.
Cathryn Conroy
This is not what I expected. That's not to say it's not a good book, it's just different than the title led me to believe what it would be. It's not a book that helps us understand Muslims, Buddhists and Jews and their religious beliefs as I had presumed it would be.

Instead, it is an exposition of how Christians can better become the embodiment of Christ to show love to the "other." Christ loved the "others": the leper, the Pharisee, the poor widow, the rich man who couldn't give up his wealth,
Oct 07, 2012 Sueek20 rated it really liked it
Heard him speak in D.C. last week. Very intriguing viewpoint on religious tolerance post 9/11.
Apr 24, 2013 Christy rated it did not like it
This started out great, but I got bored quickly by the repetition and didn't finish.
Greg Dill
Sep 18, 2015 Greg Dill rated it really liked it
A timely read for today's religiously polarized world we live in. In it, McLaren describes ways we can keep a strong Christian identity but become more benevolent toward those of other faiths. McLaren challenges the reader to take another look at key Christian doctrines and liturgy that may be divisive to those of other faiths. Finally, McLaren describes ways we can respectfully and humbly engage those of other faiths. A bit wordy at times, but easy to read. Challenging nonetheless. A great book ...more
Jarkko Laine
Jul 14, 2014 Jarkko Laine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity
Once again, Brian McLaren manages to bring forth a vision for Christianity that is both clear and inspiring, and if implemented, has the power to change the world.

While the book doesn't answer the big questions about whether to believe at all, it does something more important: it shows how Christianity can be practiced in a way that is beautiful, honest, humble, and most importantly, meaningful, making the world better for everyone, believers and non-believers alike.

I think every Christian ought
Jun 29, 2015 Jessica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jessica by: Rachel Held Evans
5 stars for the ideas, 2 for the communication of them. McLaren tackles the question of how one can be a Christian in a multi-faith world without being hostile toward those of other religions nor watering down one's own faith. His answer primarily involves the development of a new religious movement, and while I loved much of what he envisioned, I also found it to be targeted toward his fellow religious leaders more than the everyday reader.

I had a hard time connecting with the discussions that
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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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