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The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth That Could Change Everything

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,478 Ratings  ·  110 Reviews
When Brian McLaren began offering an alternative vision of Christian faith and life in books such as A New Kind of Christian and A Generous Orthodoxy, he ignited a firestorm of praise and condemnation that continues to spread across the religious landscape. To some religious conservatives, McLaren is a dangerous rebel without a doctrinally-correct cause. Some fundamentali ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published April 1st 2006 by Thomas Nelson Publishers
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Nov 10, 2010 Devan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
McLaren prefers in many parts of his book to set up this dichotomy: "traditional" Christians (who prefer traditional doctrine and ethics) and "New" Christians (who are engaged in conversations about new ways of understanding the bible, Jesus, and are concerned with social justice).

Like arguments against any straw man, I think McLaren makes some good points and some bad ones. I've read some of his articles and blog posts, and after reading this book, I realized the struggle I have with reading Mc
Dec 24, 2012 Bobbettylou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If this guy doesn't watch it he is soon going to be one of my top five favorite authors, right up there with C S Lewis, Annie Dillard, John Howard Yoder, etc.

It is a catchy title, I suspect one that was dreamed up by the publisher with an eye to sales, sort of like having the word SEX on the front cover. But this is no "DaVinci Code" nor is it subversive or even secret. It IS a fresh way of reading the New Testament, especially the gospels.

Consists of 39 relatively short chapters. My favorites a
Jun 07, 2011 Katherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Refreshing, as always, to see McLaren’s take on things. This book, he claims, was aimed toward “a broad, nonscholarly, and in many cases nonreligious audience”, and he did a very good job of writing something that can easily be understood and appreciated by Christians and non-Christians alike, something that people at any level of theological interest can reflect upon.

Written in a way that is easy to read and digest, this book shows us another way of looking at the message of Jesus - one that’s
Mar 31, 2010 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
The more I learn about early Christianity, the more convinced I become that somewhere between Constantine's empire and the influence of Aristotle (as well as other Greek philosophers), the whole program went off the rails. This is the third book of Brian McClaren's that I've read, and I think this may be my favorite of all. In sum, the author makes a convincing case that the secret message of Jesus is quite simple: the Kingdom of God is at hand. Not coming after you die. Not some pie-in-the-sky ...more
Aug 22, 2009 Laityfamily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book completly transformed my way of thinking about Jesus. I went from knowing I needed Him. To really Loving Him.
After reading the first couple pages of this book, I put it down. It was obvious that this book was going to shake my foundations and I wasn't sure I was ready yet. I did pick it up again after a short amount of time and a deep breath.
I won't ever be the same.
Christopher Endress
I would say that this book should be read and used more of as a traditional children's story: Don't take it too seriously and you might end up with a good moral at the end. McLaren's problem is that he neglects everything that disagrees with his perspective - and thus loses out on huge (and I mean HUGE) theological necessities of Christianity. If I were to read this book as a strict theological text, I would have rated it a zero (or given it an 'i' for incomplete).
However, if you take this book
I liked this book mainly because the experience of reading it was a little bit like finding new windows to look through in the walls of the house where you've lived a very long time. McLaren's chapter on the parables of Jesus (Chapter 6: The Medium of the Message) made me think in fresh ways about why Jesus chose to teach in parables. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 6:

Parables entice their hearers into new territory. If the goal is an interactive relationship...a parable succeeds where easy answ
Jul 15, 2008 Sheila rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: modern christians
I enjoyed this book and found some wonderful gems in it, even though the "secret" is not such a secret, that Jesus wants us to make our lives on earth more meaningful by caring for each other. Even though McLaren is not a fantastic writer, his thought process and analysis of the gospels is very compelling and faith-filled. He is humble, yet passionate, and refreshingly modern in his thinking about what it means to be Christian in the real world. His down to earth approach alone makes me a fan. I ...more
Jun 04, 2009 derek rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
While I'm grateful McLaren emphasizes Jesus' ministry to the poor and downtrodden, I'm disappointed that he feels like he needs to sacrifice the main message of Jesus to do it.

He focuses on explaining how Jesus preached the "kingdom of God" as here and now, but for some reason ignores that the Kingdom is also for eternity. Also, it seems like McLaren thinks that establishing "justice on earth" is the ultimate goal of Christ.

Why do we have to trivialize the eternal aspect of the Kingdom- like SA
Jenny Conatser
Mar 21, 2013 Jenny Conatser rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brian McLaren speaks to my heart in a way that no person, novel, or church has in a long time. The only reason this book isn't getting five stars from me is because I've also read A New Kind Of Christianity (same author), and I prefer it. But there aren't a lot of negative comments I can make about McLaren's message. If you, like me, want to believe in Jesus' message and follow his example, but aren't very impressed with the way the church has interpreted the Bible's teachings, I'd highly recomm ...more
Big Mike Lewis
Aug 01, 2010 Big Mike Lewis rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: heresy
I don't think his historical background of the people of the day is accurate. I did some research into what he says about the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and Zealots.

And throughout the book, he not only misses the mark, but completely obliterates it. His claims about Jesus in Scripture are so generalized and skewed that he makes Jesus sound like a Marxist.

By the end, McLaren never tells us what Jesus' message really is (because he is so vague) and never points us to a Scripture where we can fi
Greg Dill
Brian McLaren is one of my favorite Christian authors. I have read three other books written by him. "The Secret Message of Jesus" is the fourth one. This one seems to be quite different than others written by him. In his other works he seems to offer new insight, a new paradigm, even a new hermeneutic. Whereas, in "The Secret Message of Jesus" he merely expounds upon an existing theme. This theme, which McLaren calls the secret message of Jesus is really no secret. It is the kingdom of God. The ...more
Jun 26, 2013 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone who has always questioned the existence of an after life, I found this book to be intriguing. I believe that organized religion is too rule oriented and not enough love oriented (al least in my experience) and really enjoyed the message McLaren was speaking of. You can refute or embrace the message yourself but it speaks to my heart.
Jun 04, 2015 Sean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, bible
I think I don't have much real wisdom to contribute in a review, and I know I have a cat in the way of the keyboard, so I don't feel like typing much, so I will simply content myself with a few scattered thoughts.

Full disclosure: I know that Mclaren's thesis is correct because he agrees pretty much exactly with what I have been preaching for many years.

McLaren says (I paraphrase), "We should read what Jesus actually is recorded to have said, and take that seriously." I do not understand how tha
Jun 12, 2015 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to love this book...and I did until about halfway through. Then the author lost me. I agree with many of his points that we need to follow Jesus' example here and now. However, I do not agree with his points that THIS is the kingdom of heaven (here and now), that the book of Revelation is a literary device, or his implication that Jesus is not the only way to eternal life (which, in his opinion, depends on what you mean by that. Huh?). Some of his ideas (as those previously menti ...more
Aug 04, 2009 Romulo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity, jesus
O título e a capa deste livro pode assustar ou afastar uma parte do público para quem ele foi escrito. Mas não se deixe levar por esses dois motivos iniciais. O livro vale a pena ser lido.

Brian McLaren é um pastor e escritor cristão contemporâneo. Tem se destacado por tentar comunicar a mensagem do cristianismo para o contexto de um mundo pós-moderno. Com uma linguagem informal e constantemente interativa com o leitor, Brian procurar ser pessoal nos seus livros. Entende as questões da nossa épo
Mar 23, 2012 Brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, ethics
McLaren's book is just a mediocre attempt to understand the message of Jesus and its implications for today. Surely, McLaren is right to put emphasis on Jesus' message of the kingdom of God. Some of the contours of this aspect of Jesus' teaching have been all too often neglected by fundamentalists and evangelicals.

But McLaren is not the first person to get in on the "secret" message of Jesus. The kingdom of God has been dealt with more thoroughly and more biblically by several New Testament scho
Aug 07, 2009 Joey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, non-fiction
A good book to read if you are interested in an alternative view as to what the Kingdom of God is and how it functions rather than the typical understanding that our culture and history has had for so long, which is a place we get to go to after we die, etc. Jesus' message, in the light of its historical context, medium (parables), original audience to which it was given, and competition against the alternative popular messages in Jesus' time, for me, makes his message more realistic, convincing ...more
Nov 22, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith
Not that secret a message just the one that most people have overlooked, possibly because of a greater emphasis on the letters of Paul rather than the Gospels in the Christian church tradition, history and development. This is a really helpful book for those who are looking for a more radical path in choosing to be a disciple of Jesus as it offers a Biblical interpretation based on the Kingdom of God rather than 'salvation' alone. It is well written and easy to read, but for those with a doctrin ...more
Jul 21, 2015 Leanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't care for the first part, but I'm glad I pushed through to a simple, straightforward, and biblically based perspective on Jesus' message. The title is unfortunate -- it harkens gnosticism and such -- and, while I can't quite put my finger on why, I didn't always care for the author's tone and style. But it is an excellent layperson's systematic theology.
Didn't finish this one. Hence the no rating. Not sure why i wasnt really into this book (i didnt get that far), but there just wasn't enough to hold my interest, and so many other books are crowding my floors and shelves waiting to be read. So... Moving on to (hopefully) more compelling books.
Maybe I'll check this out again one day... ?
In this book author and pastor Brian Mclaren dissects Jesus and his message. The book is broken down into 3 parts: 1) Excavation: Digging beneath the SUrface to Uncover Jesus' Message 2)Engagement: Grappling with the Meaning of Jesus' Message 3) Imagination: Exploring how Jesus' Secret Message Could Change Everything.

If you wanted to ever know why Jesus spoke in parables, you'll find out in Chapter 6. Read Chapter 5 to understand the Revoulutionary Message of Jesus. Each chapter expouds on the
Jack Blashchishen
This book presents a radically refreshing and relevant look at what Jesus meant when he used language of the Kingdom. It presents the religio-political zeitgeist of his day, describing what people (pharisees, saducees, zealots, essenes) believed about the kingdom and what it took for it to come, and contrasting it with the message that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
It battles against the overall unsatisfying idea that the kingdom is only in the future and our purpose on earth is to survive
Steve Lee Sr
Jan 10, 2014 Steve Lee Sr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Challenging and motivational.

We all read the words of Jesus using filters. That is usually not intentional, but it affects the way we see and understand the words of Jesus. The question that Brian McLaren asks us to think about in this book is: Is there a better filter?

McLaren then suggests another filter: What if Jesus was a first century Jew? It is a filter that is worth considering (since Jesus obviously was Jewish and lived in the First Century AD). How are Jesus' teachings alike and how ar
Mason Wren
Jun 25, 2013 Mason Wren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't like the title too much. I would rather all it "The Hidden Truth of the Kingdom of God." It wasn't the best book to read, but this is because I have already read about a lot of the contents going through seminary and reading lots on my own. However, McLaren puts it all together for me...which was helpful! His writing is simple and sort of conversational. He is really wanting his modern readers to understand what he wants to say. I didn't care for this style of writing too much. But I did ...more
Ko Matsuo
McLaren's attempt at modernizing the message of Jesus involves a reinterpretation that brings in the political, social, and religious environment of the time. His premise is that the message of Jesus is reconciliation and peace, beginning with the poor and the meek, and the Kingdom of God is not a heavenly construct, but is what we do on earth now.

He has a really good section that clarifies the difference between the Zealots, the Herodians, the Essenes, and the Pharisees. He also does a good job
Feb 18, 2008 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians, and other who have interest in the historical Christ
Alright, so MacLaren isn't known for strong writing. He's written some pretty transparent and forced fiction. He knows this. And, sure, he stands on the shoulders of better scholars. But in this, his latest work, he stumbles onto some pretty sweet ideas. This work has the power to make the Christ of Christianity available to anyone--in a revolutionary, life-changing way. MacLaren takes us from "adventures in missing the point" into, what was for me, new territory. What if the point of Jesus's li ...more
Jim Vaden
Feb 12, 2012 Jim Vaden rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not a lot that's new here, except that my understanding of McLaren's theology is confirmed: it tends toward a shallow and immature understanding of the kingdom of God as preached by Jesus in the gospels. He seems to think that Christians have been missing the point of the kingdom and not "getting it" for 2,000 years. Really? Recent scholarship is amazing (and he references many scholars I have read and who have provided me with life-altering understandings of the gospel) but he seems to think th ...more
Matt Root
There is nothing "secret" about the message of Jesus as McLaren understands it, provided one has actually read the Gospels. But a good introduction to the teaching of Jesus nonetheless.
Bo Liles
Insert my review of McLaren & Compolo's Adventures in missing the point. This is a good book, but not the best on the core topic of the book. And honestly, I hate the title. It makes a good speaker and writer sound like he is promoting gnosticism. And that is a shame. The title may in fact HINDER what McLaren is tring to say -- which is that we need to reevaluate our American Jesus sterotypes.

If the topic interests you, start here -- but quickly move on to McClymond's Familiar Stranger, an a
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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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