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

Brian D. McLaren
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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, widely acclaimed author and speaker Brian McLaren proposes a new faith alternative, one built on "benevolence and solidarity rather than rivalry and hostility." This way of being Christian is strong but doesn't strong-arm anyone, going beyond mere tolerance to vigorous hospitality toward, interest in, and collaboration with the other.

Blending history, narrative, and brilliant insight, McLaren shows readers step-by-step how to reclaim this strong-benevolent faith, challenging us to stop creating barriers in the name of God and learn how affirming other religions can strengthen our commitment to our own. And in doing so, he invites Christians to become more Christ-like than ever before.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

McLaren uses the metaphor of great religious leaders crossing the road to converse about key matters of faith. Yet he seems to make the strongest case for fostering tolerance of other religions, while implementing Christian doctrine and maintaining Christian identity, through a single personal story. His brother offers to move some furniture into his new apartment and decides to play a practical joke, flooding the bathroom with several hundred balloons. McLaren must enlist the help of a neighbor boy to invite a virtual parade of children into the apartment to carry away the balloons. The resulting friendship between the Christian author and the Muslim boy provides an essential life lesson about loving our neighbors and tolerating their differences. McLaren makes additional valid points about the need to accept others and their various faiths while not compromising on Christian identity, but this particular anecdote leaves by far the most lasting impression. For Christians on the fence about whether to accept others and their faiths or to insist that only Christianity can adequately serve, this book provides important insights. --Susan DeGrane


"...An essential life lesson about loving our neighbors and tolerating their differences...For Christians on the fence about whether to accept others and their faiths or to insist that only Christianity can adequately serve, this book provides important insights."—Booklist Online

"...Worth reading, lively and passionate at translating progressive theology into a popular idiom."
Publishers Weekly

"...Important and extraordinarily timely...a soothing balm for the searing pain of our times..."—Huffington Post

"Provocative...Even those who don't agree will be bettered by engaging its ideas."—Relevant Magazine

"This is a major work in every sense of the word--so major, in fact, that it would be impossible to exaggerate either its importance or its worth to the current conversation about religion and religions."—Phyllis Tickle, Lecturer on Religion in America and Author of Emergence Christianity: What it Is, Where it is Going, and Why it Matters

"Helpful, timely, and really, really inspiring."—Rob Bell, author of Love Wins

"This is a book to cherish, to read over and over, a book that sheds light and warmth on one of the most difficult questions of our era."—Eboo Patel, Founder and President, Interfaith Youth Core, Author of Acts of Faith and Sacred Ground

"McLaren offers a renewed and renewing vision of Christianity that will challenge every reader to go deeper into its core Truth and find radical urgency to befriend all God's children. If you are not afraid of having your viewpoint, identity, and complacency challenged - read this, for Love itself is to be found here!"—Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church

"With wisdom and wit, Brian McLaren courageously explores the contours of his Christian faith in light of his experiences with people from other religious communities. His questions and insights are important contributions to the unfolding interfaith discussion in the United States and beyond."—Rabbi Or N. Rose, Director, The Center for Global Judaism, Hebrew College

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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107 of 115 people found the following review helpful
It's easy to mistake Brian McLaren's newest book as "another interfaith book," exploring wise strategies for building bridges between various world faiths. Given the cover and the title, one might expect it to be much like Samir Selmanovic's It's Really All About God: How Islam, Atheism, and Judaism Made Me a Better Christian or Miroslav Volf's A Common Word: Muslims and Christians on Loving God and Neighbor or the WISDOM women's Friendship and Faith That's a strong temptation especially since, opening the cover, one finds Selmanovic and Volf and others with long experience in interfaith relations endorsing Why Did Jesus ...

Given the ongoing series of violent incidents around the world that are fueled by violence, I can also argue that this book is an important contribution to interfaith peacemaking. As a journalist who has specialized in covering religion around the world for several decades now, I can affirm how important McLaren's insights are to any possibility of ending this seemingly endless cycle of conflict.

But the primary audience for this book by one of America's most important Christian writers is quite simply: Christians. In 300 very practical and provocative pages, the overall message is: Interfaith peace begins at home. Brian is not presuming to instruct other faith leaders how to rethink their approaches to the world, although there is obvious wise advice for Christians here that is widely applicable to other religious groups.

Again, don't misunderstand.
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To Get To the Other September 13, 2012
9/11/2012 marked the release of Brian McLaren's book Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Muhammad Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World. The date, of course, is significant. It's been 11 years since the tragedy of 9/11 - a tragedy that had religious overtones, but also political and economic overtones as well.

The question I often ask myself about religion is simple: What needs to stay and what needs to go? Jesus might have asked, "What's the wheat in religion and what's the chaff that needs to burn away?" (See Matt 3) Brian's book has helped me discern an answer to that question.

Peace journalist Bob Koehler and I interviewed Brian about the book last week on our podcast Voices of Peace. At the end of the show, I asked him about the title of his book. "So, Brian, why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Muhammad cross the road?" Brian responded, "To get to the other."

Of course, one can get to the "other" to do harm or to do good. But the point of Brian's book is that Christians need to have a strong identity based on the love of Christ. Christ loved the "other." He loved people as they were and for who they were.

For Christians, that's the point of our religious identity in the post 9/11 world. Some bloggers are suggesting that Brian is somehow watering down Christ. That Christ would help people, sure, but Christ would also demand that they worship him, or he'd send them to hell. That's not the Christ I see in the Bible. Brian has helped me see that Christ had no superiority complex. He didn't get into a rivalry with people by demanding that they worship him; rather, he did things like wash 1st century filthy, nasty, sandal-wearing Mediterranean feet! Jesus came to serve, not to be served!
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Vision of Hope September 20, 2012
How should followers of Christ treat members of other religions? That question is the subject of Brian McLaren's new book, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World. Because mimetic theory claims for Christianity a unique demystifying power, McLaren's question haunts our work. If "the only true religion is the one that demystifies archaic religions," as René Girard succinctly summarizes his Christian apologetics in Battling to the End (xv), and Christianity is the sufficient and necessary source of demystification, how indeed are we to treat other religions, both in our academic work and in our personal lives? McLaren is not writing for academic audiences here. His tone is pastoral, his purpose to shift the thinking of people in the pews and the pastors and educators who have their ear. And yet his primary tool for engaging them is an explicit use of mimetic theory to answer the very questions that it has raised for Christians who engage with it.

Before referring to mimetic theory by name, McLaren frames the question of interfaith relations as a question of identity. Christians seem to be quite good, he says, at having strong identities that are hostile towards other religions, or weak identities that are kind and benevolent. Though left implicit, he is clearly referring to the ubiquitous use of scapegoating to create false differences (strong and hostile) or its inversion into political correctness (weak and kind). His book is an argument for a third alternative: Christian identity that is both strong and hospitable toward other beliefs.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Toward a More Peaceful World...
So, what would happen if Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed reached the same corner at the same time, walking the same way?. Who would cross first? Read more
Published 2 days ago by Big D
5.0 out of 5 stars Will make you THINK!!!
I bought this book because of the unusual title and am glad I did. It teaches us that we need to see the world and our culture in a different light that what we have been taught. Read more
Published 3 days ago by granville russell
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably one of the most important and significant books I ...
Probably one of the most important and significant books I have read on what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Mr. Read more
Published 1 month ago by David Aubrey
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Read
Excellent subject, expertly written by a phenomenal writer. Yes I am a Brian McLaren fan. So what?
Published 2 months ago by Bill Lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast shipper... product as advertised.
Fast shipper...product as advertised.
Published 2 months ago by Wesley R. Peters
5.0 out of 5 stars leave your gift at the altar....
And find the common table were you can break bread with those who walk your path.

I have always felt that Jesus was central, not church, religion nor any other human... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dennis Pearson
1.0 out of 5 stars given the overwhelming cultural hegemony enjoyed by Christians for...
The author and most comments avoid the most important questions: how do Christians avoid behaving in such an unchristian manner as they have for two millenia? Read more
Published 4 months ago by Tristan-Marlowe
5.0 out of 5 stars Reach Out
Reach out to the needy and the different like the Good Samaritan. This is a thoughtful guide to reshaping the Christian Church and bringing stronger support among the major... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ross Edgar Bigelow
5.0 out of 5 stars It is the religious practice of tolerance and love. If you are...
Fabulous read. True religion is not dogma or rituals. It is the religious practice of tolerance and love. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Caroline Fraser
5.0 out of 5 stars Awaken to a new way of spiritual seeing.
McLaren demonstrates the courage to say what must and can be said, but he says it with deep knowledge of both Scriptures and Traditions. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Louise Kimbrel
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More About the Author

Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, pastor, and networker among innovative Christian leaders, thinkers, and activists. His groundbreaking books include A New Kind of Christian, A Generous Orthodoxy, The Secret Message of Jesus, and Everything Must Change. Named by Time magazine as one of America's top twenty-five evangelicals, McLaren has appeared on Nightline and Larry King Live, and has been covered by The Washington Post and the New York Times.

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