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Everything Must Change: When the Worlds Biggest Problems and Jesus Good News Collide [Paperback]

Brian McLaren
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2009

How can the life and teachings of Jesus impact the most critical global problems in our world today?

For the last twenty years, Brian McLaren has been unable to escape this life-shaping question. In Everything Must Change, he unveils a fresh and provocative vision of Jesus and his teachings, and how his message of hope can ignite purpose and passion to change the economic, environmental, military, political, and social crises that have overtaken our world.

The Good News is more than a ticket to heaven. It is an invitation to personal change and a radical challenge for global transformation. Imagine what would happen:

  • if we believed that Gods will really could be done on earth and not just in heaven
  • if the worlds leading nations spent less on weapons and more on making peace, alleviating poverty, and caring for creation
  • if a renewed understanding of Jesus and his message sparked a profound spiritual awakening in a global movement of faith, hope, and love

If you are hungry for a fresh vision of what it means to be a person of faith, Everything Must Change shows what would happen when Jesus Good News collides with a world in need.


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Everything Must Change: When the Worlds Biggest Problems and Jesus Good News Collide + A New Kind Of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. McLaren, a leader in the emerging church, issues a salvo of arguments for radical hope in the face of profound dilemmas. The prolific author and pastor identifies the earth's four deep dysfunctions that have created a suicide machine: crises in prosperity, equity, security and spirituality. What could change, he asks, if we applied the message of Jesus—the good news of the kingdom of God—to the world's greatest problems? Here McLaren builds on the theme of his 2006 book The Secret Message of Jesus—that bringing about the kingdom means transforming the world we live in—to propose that we create a hope insurgency. Using a close reading of the Gospels to challenge conservative evangelicals' emphasis on individual salvation, not to mention end-times theology and, by implication, the prosperity gospel, McLaren argues for establishing a beloved community based on justice, peace, equality and compassion. McLaren's conclusions are not new, but his ability to be clear and persuasive—and get the attention of a segment of America's Christians—are exceptional. While his critics will find yet more material for challenging McLaren's views, his supporters will consider this book a riveting call to a new conversion. (Oct. 2)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I agree with this book's author! Sept. 29 2008
Format:Paperback
I agree with this book's author! I am very pleased to see that there are some Christians who care about making the world we are living in a better place. Like Brian McLaren, I don't approve of Christians who don't care about how bad the world we are living in is, as long as they go to Heaven when they die. I find it very ironic that George W. Bush has shown no evidence of caring about the rich getting richer only at the expense of the poor getting poorer, or any other quality of life issues when he is a Christian (or at least claims to be). It is even more ironic that North America's conservative Christians have generally been among the strongest supporters of right-wing governments when right-wing governments, although more strongly against sex-related sins than left-wing ones, have not shown any evidence of caring about greed-related sins, and have, in fact, even been promoting them. Personally, I used to be a strong supporter of conservative governments myself, but in recent years, I have been having second thoughts about them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important book to make the world a better place June 27 2010
By diasozo
Format:Paperback
This book is great because it brings to light hard facts about the "western" lifestyle and how destructive it is to the planet, and people. Hopefully people will be motivated to make the world a better place through reading this book. Change is definitely needed in the world.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  83 reviews
65 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Kind of Revolution Oct. 22 2007
By S. J. Spurlock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Passion and compassion. These are the two words that I would use to describe this book and its author. The passion is communicated in the main title-- everything must change. The compassion is communicated in the subtitle-- global crises, hope. McLaren continues building on his previous works, especially Secret Message of Jesus. Those looking for McLaren's theological underpinnings will find it there. This book is about exploring what such a theology will look like on the ground, in real life. With grace in his words, McLaren lets us in on his own journey of discovering that Christianity often does not do much, and the things it has done have often been very negative. Then exploring the theology discussed in Secret Message of Jesus, McLaren talks at length about his experiences with people and communities from around the globe-- his experiences of finding much pain, hurt, and suffering-- and the systems that exist in that world. In the spirit of Jesus himself, McLaren paints a way forward for the church (especially those of us who find ourselves in its northern and western expressions) to truly bring Jesus into the global crisis and challenge these global systems and their central narratives. McLaren challenges the church to have "glad tidings" gospel that rivals the "gospels" of our systems/empires. He implores Christians to address the problems in our day just as Jesus did in his. Christians today are often serving idols and emperors rather than Jesus Christ. Jesus inaugarated the kingdom of God on Earth, the will of God being done on Earth as it is in heaven. Truly McLaren is right-- everything must change. It is time for us to acknowledge Jesus as Lord rather than Caesar as Lord.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Changing Framing Stories: The Relevance of Jesus For Today Oct. 23 2007
By Brian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In Brian McLaren's new book, Everything Must Change, he brings many different resources together, both religious and secular, to offer a theo-political critique of our current society and its global crises. He then offers an alternative vision in the form of a new 'framing story' that he argues can transform the way we life. McLaren argues that 'our societies are unified, integrated, motivated, and driven by the framing stories we tell ourselves as groups' (66). He then contrasts the Christian 'framing story' (i.e. Kingdom of God) with the theocapitalist 'framing story' (i.e. suicidal machine).

The 'Suicide machine' is the metaphor McLaren says 'captures the way the world's most serious problems are linked in a vicious, self-reinforcing circle' (52). These suicidal systems are the following: dysfunctional prosperity system (culture of affluenza), dysfunctional security system (invisible hand of the market requires the visible fist of the military), and the dysfunctional equity system (sharing the cost and story of prosperity and equity) (55-56).

The 'Kingdom of God' is the metaphor McLaren uses to describe the alternative, transforming framing story that has the potential to bring life instead of death. The Kingdom of God is the divine vision of justice and peace communicated in Hebrew and Christian scripture. For McLaren, the Kingdom of God offers the best framing story: 'a story in which God provides through creation's natural systems, a story in which we acknowledge our creaturely dignity and limits within those systems, a story in which we celebrate our kinship with birds and flowers, with season and toil' (139). This story is a story where peace is achieved through collaborative efforts at 'justice, generosity, and mutual concern' (159).

McLaren believes that Jesus' message and ministry challenged the dysfunctional, destructive status quo of the Roman Empire in his life. McLaren writes: 'Jesus' creative and transforming framing story invited people to change the world by disobeying old framing stories and believing a new one: a story about a loving God who, like a benevolent [leader], calls all people to live in a new way, the way of love' (274). McLaren also believes Jesus' challenge to the old story and offering of a new story is just as relevant for our lives today.

For McLaren, Jesus' message is relevant because it invites us to live a new and better life right now. Not something we must wait for, but something God invites us into in our daily lives. And this better life we can live now is 'live a life dedicated to replacing the suicide machine with a sacred ecosystem, a beautiful community, an insurgency of healing and peace, a creative global family, an unterror movement of faith, hope, and love' (227).

Ultimately, McLaren's book is about how Jesus' message of the Kingdom of God can offer us a way to discover hope and 'abundant life' in the midst of a world in crises.

Also recommended: For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future (John Cobb and Herman Daly).
441 of 617 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars McLaren Changes Everything Sept. 25 2007
By Tim Challies - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Those of us who have been keeping a wary eye on the Emerging Church know that to understand the movement we must understand Brian McLaren. Though it is not quite fair to label him the movement's leader, he certainly functions as its elder statesman and his writing seems to serve as a guide or compass for the movement. Where he leads, others follow. And so it is with interest that I turned to <em>Everything Must Change</em>. This book is shaped by two preoccupying questions: what are the biggest problems in the world and what does Jesus have to say about these global problems? They are valid questions and probably questions to which Christians should devote more attention. In this book McLaren address them head-on.

According to McLaren, we live in a societal system consisting of three subsystems: the prosperity, equity and security systems. These are all guided by a framing narrative. The world was made in such a way that these should function in perfect harmony as they are guided by God's framing story, but unfortunately they have become misaligned so they no longer function as they should. When the framing narrative is destructive, this system can go suicidal, ultimately self-destructing. This is society as we know it now--a society that is completely suicidal. And this is the problem Jesus came to address. Having thought long and hard about the world's problems, McLaren says this: "Our plethora of critical global problems can be traced to four deep dysfunctions, the fourth of which is the lynchpin or leverage point through which we can reverse the first three." These three crises are linked in a very tightly integrated system that functions as this "suicide machine."

Jesus, says McLaren, stepped into this dysfunctional system and proposed an alternative in both word and deed. Jesus' solution was to confront society's suicide machine, to redraw and reshape the framing narratives by proposing a radical alternative. He says Jesus' message, His good news, is this: "The time has come! Rethink everything! A radically new kind of empire is available--the empire of God has arrived! Believe this good news, and defect from all human imperial narratives, counternarratives, dual narratives, and withdrawal narratives. Open your minds and hearts like children to see things freshly in this new way, follow me and my words, and enter this new way of living." Jesus took that message to the cross, an instrument of torture and cruelty that He used "to expose the cruelty and injustice of those in power and instill hope and confidence in the oppressed."

McLaren's utter disdain for Protestant theology is evident throughout, but perhaps nowhere so clearly as in his rendition of Mary's Magnificat, rewritten in such a way, he says, that it can now be consistent with traditional theology.

"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my personal Savior, for he has been mindful of the correct saving faith of his servant. My spirit will go to heaven when my body dies for the Mighty One has provided forgiveness, assurance, and eternal security for me--holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who have correct saving faith and orthodox articulations of belief, from generation to generation. He will overcome the damning effects of original sin with his mighty arm; he will damn to hell those who believe they can be saved through their own efforts or through any religion other than the new one He is about to form. He will condemn followers of other religions to hell but bring to heaven those with correct belief. He has filled correct believers with spiritual blessings but will send those who are not elect to hell forever. He has helped those with correct doctrinal understanding, remembering to be merciful to those who believe in the correct theories of atonement, just as our preferred theologians through history have articulated."

But the Bible, he says, teaches none of this. Rather, "Mary celebrates that God is going to upset the dominance hierarchies typical of empire so that the nation of Israel can experience the fulfillment of its original promise."

After reframing Jesus and His message, McLaren reintroduces Him through a new lens. This Jesus, as we might expect, is radically different from the one Protestants have known and honored and radically different from the Jesus of the Bible. McLaren continues to systematically dismantle Christian doctrine. "With no apologies to Martin Luther, John Calvin, or modern evangelicalism, Jesus (in Luke 16:9) does not prescribe hell to those who refuse to accept the message of justification by grace through faith, or to those who are predestined for perdition, or to those who don't express faith in a favored atonement theory by accepting Jesus as their `personal savior.' Rather, hell--literally or figurative--is for the rich and comfortable who proceed on their way without concern for their poor neighbor day after day." Jesus "calls them to grow their good deeds portfolios for the common good, especially the good of the poor and marginalized."

McLaren seems particular incensed with the biblical concepts of heaven, hell and atonement. Rather than being eternal realities, heaven and hell become states we create on this earth as we pursue or deny the kingdom of God. Because Jesus' message is not one of sinful men becoming reconciled to a holy God through an atoning sacrifice, those of any creed can seek and participate in the kingdom. People of other creeds may well be participating in it more fully and more purely than ones who claim to be Christians. Men and women of all creeds can be followers of Jesus living out the kingdom of God even if they have never heard His name.

With this book McLaren further draws a line in the sand between traditional Protestant beliefs and the Emerging Church. He declares, increasingly unequivocally, that this Emerging Church bears little resemblance to the church as we know it. This book is, in my opinion, McLaren's first real attempt to reconstruct the "Christian" theology that he has dismantled in his previous books. But what he has rebuilt bears little resemblance to the Christianity of the Bible.
82 of 114 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Revolution of Despair Dec 1 2007
By NewJoppa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I've read many of McLaren's books ... and he always seemed to ask questions without giving many answers, which I guess is what the "Emergent Conversation" is supposed to be. However, in this book, McLaren appears to begin answering some of his questions and I was finally and profoundly disappointed. While I agree that contemporary American Christianity is NOT what it is supposed to be ... the "hope" of a social Eutopia in the thoughts of Brian McLaren appears to be just a rehashed liberal worldview, with a the story of Jesus being "re-told" to inspire us towards Global Socialism (I know it is so non-emergent of me to categorize). McLaren's universe has relegated the truth of God's Creative act to little more than a mythical allegory ... and the triumph of the return of Christ as apparently something that isn't going to "really" happen. Our future is essentially up to our collective willingness to become better people ... inspired by the "good news" of Jesus (which is just a better "story" than the self-destructive "story" we have believed up until recently). While I do give credit to McClaren for bringing up some interesting questions about the pro-war pro-corporation mentality of the U.S. government (and some of our religious leaders) I'm left with an impression that whether or not the Bible is "true" is inconsequential, as long as we can extract the correct themes that make us want to be better people. His repetitive use of emergent post-modern jargon, also left me with the impression that he was trying too hard to convince the reader that he is brilliant ... instead of using language that normal people use. If you really want to buy a McClaren book, I would recommend "Generous Orthodoxy" which I felt was much more compelling and better written than either "Everything Mus Change" or "The Secret Message of Jesus" (which I also didn't like). If you would like to read a book that deals with Global Crisis from a biblical perspective ... you'll have to keep looking ... and let me know when you find one.

Just one other thing. I've read a lot of McLaren's responses to his critics ... and his defense is often "I didn't say that, they are misrepresenting what I said". Ironically, I think this might be what Jesus would say if He read this book. Several times, McLaren imagines Jesus making statements that surprisingly use the same post-modern deconstructionist jargon as McLaren ... and not-so-surprisingly, Jesus' words, in McLaren's paraphrase, verbalize the Emergent ideology. This book is an "Adventure in Missing the Point".
20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful & challenging even with its shortcomings Dec 3 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As I read through Everything Must Change, I'm struck by something impossible to avoid. No, it's not the epistemologic issues. And yes, the ecclectic, synchretistic theology does bother me (as it should). But what I find most striking is his desire to revive the positive of Christianity (and Islam, etc.). He wants the positive results, the positive message, everything that not only reinforces good feelings but also motivates us to good works for the benefit of others.

As I read it, I couldn't help but reflect on some 19th c. theology that I read recently in The Golden Dawn, or Light on the Great Future. What McLaren is asking for is not at all unlike the pre-WWI, pre-Moody, postmillennial wishes for a better world, a successful place for all, a Christianity where everything is done, if not right, as best we can possibly do it. But I think this is naive. The postivists of two centuries ago rode the wave of modernity. Today's postmodern wants to maintian the Positive without the Modern. I won't hold my breath. I see McLaren's outlook as the ultimate in post-postive positivism. You can't resurrect a dead horse.

One thing that McLaren implicitly requests is that Christianity become an initiator of positive change. Some of what he asks for is doable and practical. Some of it we already do, but could do more of and more often. But other matters would require a degree of political ascent, and that's what got us into 1500 years of problems as it was. So, while I appreciate some of his sentiments, I actually don't think he is going far enough with his framework. There is a degree of separation from modernity that will help us. I wish he would consider some additional steps and then evaluate them for more consistency.

Despite his dependence on that unstated theonomy necessary to implement this type of social change, he does confront the Christian with dependence on the current world system. The section on theocapitalism is especially worth the time to read. Nevertheless one cannot help but see that his views are tainted by an overly-optimistic outlook. The secularists, and many of us within evangelicalism, have had quite enough of misused politics. McLaren is proposing another politic, and I don't know that the world is ready for such an alternative. His (apparently) postmillennial outlook is consumed with social justice with a good deal of need for a mechanism to implement it.

I like some of his core principles but am disturbed by his responsiveness first to needs and complaints instead of first responding to Scripture.

Do I recommend this book? Yes. I find his arguments weak but his critique of the church, though it has errors, to be clearly-stated and useful. There is always something to learn from our critics. Brian McLaren's work makes a useful mirror for us to reflect upon, but not to gaze upon.
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