Brian McLaren

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Brian D. McLaren (1956-) is a prominent Christian pastor, author, activist and speaker and leading figure in the emerging church movement. McLaren is also associated with postmodern Christianity and progressive Christianity and is a major figure in post-evangelical thought. He has often been named one of the most influential Christian leaders in America and was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America in 2005.

He graduated from University of Maryland with degrees in English (BA in 1978 and MA in 1981). His academic interests included Medieval drama, Romantic poets, modern philosophical literature, and the novels of Dr. Walker Percy.

He grew up in a fundamental church (Plymouth Brethren). His own pilgrimage included involvement with the Jesus People and time in a charismatic Episcopal church and various evangelical communions.


In April 1982, eleven friends, mostly in their twenties from nearly eleven Christian backgrounds—Catholic, Protestant, non-charismatic, charismatic, denominational and nondenominational, shared a common desire—to become an exciting, effective church that would welcome and embrace spiritual seekers of all kinds—Christians from many traditions and also those who had no-prior experience or knowledge of Christianity. In 1986 Brian was the founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville, Maryland,  a nondenominational church in the Baltimore-Washington region. He left it in 2006 to pursue writing and speaking full-time. His public speaking covers a broad range of topics including postmodernism, biblical studies, evangelism, apologetics, leadership, global mission, church growth, church planting, art and music, pastoral survival and burnout, inter-religious dialogue, ecology, and social justice.

McLaren was on the international steering team and board of directors for Emergent Village; and serves as a board member for Sojourners and Orientacion Cristiana. He is a founding member of Red Letter Christians. He formerly served as board chair of International Teams, an innovative mission organization with 15 nationally registered members including the United States office based in Chicago, and has served on several other boards, including The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology, and Off The Map.

In September 2012, McLaren led a gay marriage commitment ceremony for his son Trevor and partner Owen Ryan at the Audubon Naturalist Society in Chevy Chase, Maryland, a ceremony officiated by a Universal Life minister.


Many of the books that McLaren has written, including the "A New Kind of Christian" trilogy, deal with Christianity in the context of the cultural shift towards postmodernism. McLaren believes this theology enables him to approach faith from what he considers a more Jewish perspective which allows faith to exist without objective, propositional truth to believe. He has also challenged traditional evangelicals' emphasis on individual salvation, end-times theology and the prosperity gospel. He also creates an antithesis between personal trust in God and belief in his propositions:

    "I believe people are saved not by objective truth, but by Jesus. Their faith isn’t in their knowledge, but in God." – Brian McLaren

Applying this epistemology to his theology, McLaren suggests on pp. 80–81 of More Ready Than You Realize that new Christian converts should remain within their specific contexts.

    I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish contexts … rather than resolving the paradox via pronouncements on the eternal destiny of people more convinced by or loyal to other religions than ours, we simply move on … To help Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, and everyone else experience life to the full in the way of Jesus (while learning it better myself), I would gladly become one of them (whoever they are), to whatever degree I can, to embrace them, to join them, to enter into their world without judgment but with saving love as mine has been entered by the Lord (A Generous Orthodoxy, 260, 262, 264).

Often McLaren's postmodern approach to hermeneutics and Biblical understanding prompts him to take a less traditional approach towards issues considered controversial by fundamentalists, such as homosexuality. McLaren encourages what he calls a humble approach to controversial issues to enable dialog with others in a productive way.

    "Even if we are convinced that all homosexual behavior is always sinful, we still want to treat gay and lesbian people with more dignity, gentleness, and respect than our colleagues do. If we think that there may actually be a legitimate context for some homosexual relationships, we know that the biblical arguments are nuanced and multilayered, and the pastoral ramifications are staggeringly complex. We aren't sure if or where lines are to be drawn, nor do we know how to enforce with fairness whatever lines are drawn."

In 2011 McLaren defended Rob Bell's controversial book Love Wins. Like Bell, McLaren has been branded a universalist by some of his critics, a charge which McLaren denies. Instead he argues for what he calls a more humble, inclusivist approach to the issue.

McLaren has also questioned the penal substitution interpretation of the atonement and the importance some conservatives place on the doctrine.

In 2013 Brian Mclaren announced The CANA Initiative, a kind of continuation of the Emergent Village. It developed into The Convergence. During Pope Francis' visit to USA in September 2015, Brian McLaren arranged Coming Together in Faith on Climate - an interreligious initiative based on the pope's message.

Brian McLaren took a Sabbatical from November 2015 till September 2016.

Brian is (2020) a faculty member of The Living School, which is part of the Center for Action and Contemplation, and he co-leads the Common Good Messaging Team, which is part of Vote Common Good (to prevent the re-election of Donald Trump). He is also an Auburn Senior Fellow and a leader in the Convergence Network, through which he has developed an innovative training/mentoring program for pastors, church planters, and lay leaders called Convergence Leadership Project. He works closely with the Wild Goose Festival, the Fair Food Program‘s Faith Working Group, and Progressive Christianity.


McLaren married a Catholic woman (Grace) and has four children. In 2012, McLaren led a gay marriage commitment ceremony for his son Trevor.


Brian's encounter with Christ during the Jesus movement.

I was first "inducted" into the movement through TAG - Take And Give - which began in a wonderful Southern Baptist lady's home and then grew into various larger venues. I had grown up a very conventional conservative Evangelical and so I experienced the Jesus Movement as a hybrid reality - one part counter-cultural contextualization (Jesus Music, Jesus Festivals, faith dressed in jeans, long hair, and sandals instead of faith dressed in suits, white shirts, and ties) ... one part charismatic renewal (our "sector" of the Jesus Movement was eventually colonized by a stream of "the Discipleship Movement" and become quite sectarian if not cultic in many ways) ... and one part "return to sources," which meant questioning conventional church thought and practice based on Scripture, especially the New Testament, and especially the Gospels.
What I loved most about the Jesus Movement was the focus on Jesus. We were serious about following him, living his way of love, peace, and joy, sharing the good news that God loved everyone regardless of cultural trappings (a somewhat radical thought back in the late 60's and easy 70's). To us Jesus was a radical ... a peace activist ... a justice man ... a love man ... whose life and good news was exactly what our turbulent world needed.
... Another great memory - reading something about "Jesus the Radical" in one of the Jesus Papers of the time ... and getting a sense that we were onto the trail of a truer understanding of Jesus: that the search for love, joy, justice, and peace of the counterculture was actually a yearning for Jesus and his way.
... Sometime, it would be fun to get some of us together who were part of the Jesus Movement in those days, and who never fit when it took its conservative, consumerist turn - folks like Chuck Smith Jr, Frank Schaeffer, Greg Leffel, and others. I feel winds of that resurging radical spirit at the Wild Goose Festival, in the emergent conversation, in the New Monasticism, and elsewhere.
My hunch, and hope, is that the Jesus Movement was one wave in a rising tide that has yet to reach its crest. In that sense, it isn't over yet, just as the social gospel movement, the charismatic movement, the base community movement, the missional movement, and other related phenomena aren't over yet. They're successive waves that surge and recede, but participate in and contribute to something larger that is yet to be seen.

From  May 9, 2016:

60 gifts I'm grateful for: 57. Spiritual Practices: I'm grateful for the practices I learned back when I was in college ... journaling, spiritual direction/mentoring, practicing the Presence, Bible reading and prayer ...

Brian McLaren on Walter Brueggemann June 3, 2013:

Walter Brueggemann has been one of the most important influences in McLaren's theological life.




  • The Church on the Other Side (1998)
  • Finding Faith (1999)
  • A New Kind of Christian (2001)
  • More Ready Than You Realize: Evangelism as Dance in the Postmodern Matrix (2002)
  • A Is for Abductive (2002)
  • Adventures in Missing the Point (2003, co-written with Tony Campolo)
  • Church in Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives (2003) Leonard Sweet (General Editor), with contributors Andy Crouch, Brian D. McLaren, Erwin McManus, Michael Horton, Frederica Mathewes-Green
  • The Story We Find Ourselves In (2003)
  • A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional, Evangelical, Post/Protestant, Liberal/Conservative, Mystical/Poetic, Biblical, Charismatic/Contemplative, Fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Green, Incarnational, Depressed-yet-Hopeful, Emergent, Unfinished CHRISTIAN (2004)
  • The Last Word and the Word After That (2005)
  • The New Kind of Christian Trilogy - Limited Edition Boxed Set (A New Kind of Christian; The Story We Find Ourselves In; The Last Word and the Word After That) (2005)
  • The Secret Message of Jesus : Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything (2006)
  • The Voice of Luke: Not Even Sandals (The Voice) (2007)
  • Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope (2007)
  • Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices (2008)
  • The Justice Project (2009), edited with Elisa Padilla, and Ashley Bunting Seeber
  • A New Kind of Christianity (2010)
  • Naked Spirituality: A Life With God in 12 Simple Words (2011)
  • Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World (2012)
  • The Girl with the Dove Tattoo (2012)
  • The Word of the Lord to Democrats (2012)
  • We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation (2014)
  • The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World's Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian (2016)
  • Way of Life Participant Guide: A Study Based on The Great Spiritual Migration (2017)
  • Cory and the Seventh Story (2018) with Gareth Higgins
  • God Unbound: Theology in the Wild (2019)
  • The Galapagos Islands: A Spiritual Journey (On Location) (2019)
  • Faith After Doubt (January 2021)
  •  Do I Stay Christian? (Spring 2022).


  • Twelve Simple Words on DVD "Brian McLaren and wellness coach/yoga/voice instructor/opera singer Suzanne Jackson have collaborated to develop a program of meditation and movement to help people enrich their spiritual lives in a new way. Rooted in the Christian tradition, Twelve Simple Words uses movements from Yoga, Tai Chi, and Chi Gong. People from any or no religious tradition will find value in this simple, doable, and yet deep approach to spirituality. In Brian's 2011 release, Naked Spirituality, you learned an overview of the spiritual life in a framework of four stages: simplicity, complexity, perplexity, and harmony. Now, in each stage, you are introduced to movements and soul-postures that will help you deepen your life with God. Brian lodges each practice in a simple word and then offers guidance for working with each word."


Brian McLaren, the most controversial of emergent leaders, does not represent all things emerging. But he does represent the more progressive wing, and his latest books offer a glimpse of where that movement might be heading. :

he (McLaren) is also the de facto spiritual leader for the emerging church, thanks to his indefatigable speaking and writing schedule that produced, among his many books, 2001's A New Kind of Christian A New Kind of Christian became influential not just because of its content but also its form. McLaren cast the book as a story of two friends, a disillusioned evangelical pastor named Dan Poole and an enigmatic high school science teacher nicknamed Neo. On the brink of despair with his own ministry, Dan is led by Neo—who turns out to be a lapsed pastor himself—through a series of set pieces that introduce the initially skeptical Dan to a "postmodern" approach to Christianity. The modern period of history, as Neo tells it, is coming to an end. We are entering "postmodernity," an as-yet ill-defined borderland in which central modern values like objectivity, analysis, and control will become less compelling. They are superseded by postmodern values like mystery and wonder. The controversial implication is that forms of Christianity that have thrived in modernity—including Dan's evangelicalism—are unlikely to survive the transition.

"Right now Emergent is a conversation, not a movement," he says. "We don't have a program. We don't have a model. I think we must begin as a conversation, then grow as a friendship, and see if a movement comes of it."

Yet recently McLaren has started to sketch the outlines of his vision of a postmodern church. He sketches a big circle labeled "self," a smaller circle next to it labeled "church," and a tiny circle off to the side labeled "world."

"This has been evangelicalism's model," he says. "Fundamentally it's about getting yourself 'saved'—in old-style evangelicalism—or improving your life in the new style. Either way, the Christian life is really about you and your needs. Once your needs are met, then we think about how you can serve the church. And then, if there's anything left over, we ask how the church might serve the world."

He starts drawing again. "But what if it went the other way? This big circle is the world—the world God loved so much that he sent his Son. Inside that circle is another one, the church, God's people chosen to demonstrate his love to the world. And inside that is a small circle, which is your self. It's not about the church meeting your needs, it's about you joining the mission of God's people to meet the world's needs."

"Election is not about who gets to go to heaven; election is about who God chooses to be part of his crisis-response team to bring healing to the world."

"I don't think we've got the gospel right yet. What does it mean to be 'saved'? When I read the Bible, I don't see it meaning, 'I'm going to heaven after I die.' Before modern evangelicalism nobody accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, or walked down an aisle, or said the sinner's prayer."

From Newbigin, McLaren has drawn the idea of the church as "missional"—oriented toward the needs of the world rather than oriented towards its own preservation. From Polanyi and MacIntyre, he concludes that the emerging church must be "monastic"—centered on training disciples who practice, rather than just believe, the faith.

He cites Dallas Willard and Richard Foster, with their emphasis on spiritual disciplines, as key mentors for the emerging church. None of these thinkers has any inclination to throw out the baby of truth with the bathwater of modernity.

So Emergent has no lock on the next generation. In this respect it may prove no different from the previous Christian movement characterized by male hair, the Jesus Movement. It coexisted, often uneasily, with more cautious expressions of church, was animated by a combination of beautiful ideals and foolish ideas, and ultimately merged into an evangelical mainstream that had adapted to its presence. :c

Brian believes in an old saw—namely, the Constantinian Fall of the Church, the event and era in which the Greco-Roman narrative was developed. In short, this narrative teaches that humans were created in a Platonic, ideal, and perfect world in Eden; then the Fall occurred, which tumbled humans into the Aristotelian and real world of becoming (which is bad). Out of this becoming world, one can either escape or be saved into the Platonic-ideal heaven, or choose eternal perdition in a Greek form of Hades. Brian will later call this the "Greco-Roman soul-sort narrative," by which he means that life in the here and now is about sorting out the saved from the damned. McLaren's soul-sort narrative is a caricature of a narrative that no responsible thinker really believes or teaches in the bald, insensitive, and barbaric ways described in this book. It's a caricature of Romans 5.

The Greco-Roman narrative is directed and determined by a god whom McLaren calls "Theos," who is not that distinct from the Greek Zeus or the Roman Jupiter. Theos is much different from the Hebrew Elohim, the Lord of Genesis 1-12. How? This Theos loves spirit, state, and being, and hates matter, story, and becoming, since, once again, the latter involve change, and the only way to change or move from perfection is downward into decay. "As soon as something drops out of the state of perfection, Theos is possessed by a pure and irresistible urge to destroy it (or make it suffer)," Brian claims. Theos is "perfectly furious" about humans telling stories, because that is "something that should never happen in the world of Theos." There's more: "Theos stands above, holding his thunderbolts ready to strike, ready to melt the whole damned thing down to primal lava, ready to set it all on fire to purge all that is imperfect, so only perfect purified being remains."

This is, according to Brian, "conventional Christian theology."

The Theos-driven narrative is one in which salvation is equivalent to atonement. Justification and redemption and salvation happen "when Theos finds a way to forgive this fallen, dropout, broken, detestable creation for its descent from perfect holy being into pathetic detestable becoming." Because humans are immortal and partake in Theos's essential nature, the damned must suffer eternally while the saved experience God's joy forever.

The evolving God

Here emerges the second major theme in A New Kind of Christianity—a new way of reading the Bible. Instead, Brian argues - ... - the Bible is a "portable library of poems, prophecies, histories, fables, parables, letters, sagely sayings, quarrels, and so on."

He sketches a view of God, sometimes seeing God as a "character", one who evolves from less mature (Noah's "ethnic-cleansing" God of "genocide") to more mature (Jesus' Abba and John's God of love). Thus, "the more dominating understanding of God will fade and give way to a more intimate one."

This God comes to maturity in Jesus: "The images of God that most resemble Jesus, whether they originate in the Bible or elsewhere, are the more mature and complete images; the ones less similar to the character of Jesus are the more embryonic and incomplete, even though they may be celebrated for being better than the less complete images they replaced."

A critique on A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith. part 1 and part 2

Brian McLaren (around 2010?) in My sense is that "what is trying to be born" in the pregnant Christian faith will involve a convergence of Roman Catholic, Evangelical/Charismatic, and Mainline Protestant Christians (along with, I hope, some Eastern Orthodox as well).
Catholic influence on the emergence community continues to be strong, especially through the spiritual practices of the monastic and contemplative traditions.

  • McLaren co-wrote a book with Leonard Sweet titled A is for Abductive: The Language of the Emerging Church. On page 52 McLaren writes: "Without fail, when I am around this brilliant and contagiously thoughtful scholar and author, I think new thoughts in new ways."
  • McLaren wrote the second foreword for Dan Kimball's The Emerging Church in 2003.
  • Among the endorsers of McLarens The Secret Message of Jesus is Donald Miller, Phyllis Tickle, Walter Brueggemann, John Ortberg and Tony Campolo. The acknowledgments goes to N. T. Wright and Dallas Willard
  • McLaren in The Church on the Other Side p. 19, cites Margaret Whitley and calls Leadeship and the New Science an "inspiring book."
  • McLaren in The Church on the Other Side p. 21: "Quantum leaps are happening that are nothing like evolution."
  • McLaren in A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 151: "There long have been Christian traditions recognizing the profound importance of mysticism and poetry, and the corresponding limitations of rationality and prose, including the via negativa ... and the hesychastic tradition, which discovers God in silence. Both traditions remind usof the limitations of language when talking about God, a subject so great that no words can do it justice."
  • McLaren in A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 175: If charismatics gave me my high school diploma in the ways of the Spirit, it was from Catholic contemplatives that I earned an undergraduate degree in the liberal arts of the Spirit.
  • McLaren in A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 178: "I felt every tree, every blade of grass, and every pool of water become especially eloquent with God's grandeur.  Somehow they seemed to become transparent - or perhaps translucent is the better word - because each thing in its particularity was still utterly visible and unspeakably important ...  These specific, concrete things became translucent in the sense that a powerful, indescribable, invisible light seemed to shine through. ... It was the exuberant joy of simply seeing theese masterpi8eces of God's creation ... and knowing myself to be among them.  It was to be one of them, and to feel and know that "we" - all of these creatures, molecules, and phenomena - were together known and loved by God, who embaced us all into the ultimate "We."
  • Brian McLaren in A Generous Orthodoxy, p.254: This is how I feel when I’m offered a choice between the roads of exclusivism {only confessing Christians go to heaven}, universalism {everyone goes to heaven}, and inclusivism {Christians go to heaven, plus at least some others}. Each road takes you somewhere, to a place with some advantages and disadvantages, but none of them is the road of my missional calling: blessed in this life to be a blessing to everyone on earth.
  • McLaren in Generous Orthodoxy, p. 255: "Western Chritianity has (for the last few centuries anyway) said relatively little about mindfulness and medittative practices, about which Zen Buddhism has said much.  To talk about different things is not to contradict one another, it is rather, to have much to offer one another, on accasion at least."
  • McLaren in A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 246:  Many Christian leaders started searching for a new approach under the banner of "spiritual formation." This new search has led many of them back to Catholic contemplative practices and medieval monastic disciplines.
  • McLaren in Generous Orthodoxy, p. 283: "... God stands ahead of us in time, at the end of the journey, sending us in waves, as it were, the gift of the present, an inrush of the future that pushes the past behind us and washes over us with a ceaseless flow of new possibilities, new options, new chances to rethink and receive new direction, new empowerment."
  • Brian McLaren in Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices, p. vii: I am indebted in a special way to Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, Eugene Peterson, and Joan Chittister; their writings introduced med to the contemplative life and the idea of spiritual disciplines or practices. I am similarly indebted to Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis, and Ron Sider; their works introduced me to the integration of the contemplative life and a life of social action. ... I remember the first time I experienced lectio divina, guided by Tony Jones, and body prayer, guided by Doug Pagitt. [Their books are listed on page 213-214.]
  • Brian McLaren in Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices, p. 214: Also among the growing treasury of helpful books on spiritual practices, I would highlight ... Scott McKnight, Praying With the Church: Developing a Daily Rythm for Spiritual Formation; ... [yes, Scot is misspelled]
  • Brian McLaren in Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices, p. 129: ... Jesus Movement of which I was a part in the 1970s.
  • McLaren claims in a generous Orthodoxy that he is influenced by Ken Wilber in significant ways.
  • In A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 59: I discovered other Roman Catholic writers - twentieth-century writers such as Flannery O'Connor, Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Romano Guardini, and Gabriel Marcel, as well as the medieval mystics and others.
    p. 62: I sensed that if Jesus were truly the Saviour, he wasn't just my personal Saviour, but was the Saviour of the whole cosmos.

  • McLaren in A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 93: Perhaps our ‘inward-turned, individual-salvation-oriented, un-adapted Christianity' is a colossal and tragic misunderstanding, and perhaps we need to listen again for the true song of salvation, which is ‘good news to all creation.' So perhaps it's best to suspend what, if anything, you ‘know' about what it means to call Jesus ‘Savior' and to give the matter of salvation some fresh attention. Let's start simply. In the Bible, save means ‘rescue' or ‘heal'. It emphatically does not mean ‘save from hell' or ‘give eternal life after death,' as many preachers seem to imply in sermon after sermon. Rather its meaning varies from passage to passage, but in general, in any context, save means ‘get out of trouble.' The trouble could be sickness, war, political intrigue, oppression, poverty, imprisonment, or any kind of danger or evil.
  • McLaren in A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 279,281:
    The "Great Chain of Being" [Wikipedia: a strict, religious hierarchical structure of all matter and life, believed to have been decreed by God. The chain starts from God and progresses downward to angels, demons (fallen/renegade angels), stars, moon, kings, princes, nobles, commoners, wild animals, domesticated animals, trees, other plants, precious stones, precious metals, and other minerals.] (better called, says integral philosopher Ken Wilber, the "Great Nest of Being") seeks to capture this emergence. ... All things are nested in a larger reality; and the largest reality, the one that comprises them, the "ultimate domain" is, I believe, what Jesus meant when he announced "The kingdom (or domain) of God."
  • McLaren in A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 293: ... I don't believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts.
  • McLaren in A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 320: Sin, in this model, can be understood as lower levels or rings resisting the emergence of higher levels or rings. … sin mucks up God’s original intent for the story of creation, sabotaging emergence by replacing it with stagnation and decay. Because of this counter-emergent virus we call sin, the stages, episodes, and levels don’t always unfold as they should.
  • In his book The Church on the Other Side, he writes about several of these viruses. One is what he calls "The Objective/Analytic/Reductionist Virus" (p. 193). His illustrations of this virus/sin include: "Bible exposition (aka objective textual analysis)" and "Bible scholarship (… competence at applying modern analytical tools to Bible study)." Another virus/sin he calls "The Virus of Individualism" (p. 195). The first illustration of this virus/sin is "that Christianity was reduced to being a story about how to get a personal Savior—how to get my personal soul into heaven rather than hell. The virus of individualism was an autoimmune disease in the Body of Christ; it made parts of the body not recognize they were organically united to other parts" (pp. 195-196). From The Emergent Church of Brian D. McLaren, by Dr. David A. DeWitt.
  • The Secret Message of Jesus, p. 175-176: The book of Revelation is an example of popular literary genre of ancient judaism, known today as Jewish apocalyptic.  Trying to read it without understanding its genre would be like watching Star Trek ... thinking it was a historical documentary, ... instead of being a book about the distant future, it becomes a way of talking about the challenges of the immediate present. It becomes a book of warnings and promises.
  • Brian McLaren endorsed Alan Jones' Reimagining Christianity: Reconnect Your Spirit without Disconnecting Your Mind (2004): Jones is a pioneer in reimagining a Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality. His work stimulates and encourages me deeply.
  • McLaren in The Secret Message of Jesus, p. 39: He (the rich young ruler) asks Jesus how he can experience "eternal life" - again, not to be confused with the "life after you die."
  • McLaren in The Secret Message of Jesus, p. 134: ... this section of the manifesto invites us to conceive of the kingdom of God as a beautiful web of kinship that, in ways St. Francis saw more clearly than we normally do, makes birds and flowers our sisters and brothers.
  • Brian McLaren and Tony Campolon Adventures in Missing the Point, p. 43: God’s kingdom is a new society that Jesus wants to create in this world—within human history, not after the Second Coming or a future apocalypse or anything else. But right now
  • Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo in Adventures in Missing the Point, p. 59: To the contrary, the history of the world is infused with the presence of God, who is guiding the world toward becoming the kind of world God willed it to be when it was created. Human history is going somewhere wonderful.
  • Scot McKnight in McLaren Emerging, Christianity Today, September 26 2008, 60: Scot McKnight has concluded that McLaren’s vision "is simply to return to Jesus and to rework and revitalize Jesus’ kingdom vision." McKnight’s conclusion is that "in this aggressive emphasis of the here and now, we see a devaluation of the traditional view of heaven, and the need for a radical reworking of familiar terms—eternal life, heaven, kingdom, repent, believe, and sin. These terms now take their meaning from the story of God’s current redemption of the entire created order through the followers of Jesus who embody and expand his message."
  • Brian McLaren in The Secret Message of Jesus, p. 143: My friend(s) Dallas Willard ...
  • Brian McLaren in The Secret Message of Jesus, p. 145: My friend Tony Campolo ...
  • Brian McLaren endorsed the back cover of Tony Campolo's Speaking My Mind.
  • Acknowledgements in The History We Find Ourselves in: Dallas Willard's Divine Conspiracy encouraged me to think more deeply about the kingdom of God image in the teachings of Jesus, along with an apprenticeship model of Christianity. ... In addition ... Leonard Sweet ... N. T. Wright ... Bob Buford's Halftime inspired the halftime imagery in Chapter Thirty. The book is endorsed by Leonard Sweet and Dan Kimball.
  • Acknowledgements in Everything Must Change: Thanks to Dr. Leonard Sweet for providing the term suicide machine, Tony Campolo ... and the Red-letter Christians; to Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt.
  • Brian McLaren endorsed Leonard Sweet's Carpe Manana (2001)
  • Brian McLaren presents a simple map in his book Finding Faith: simplicity, complexity, perplexity, humility. ... to be continued.
  • Brian McLaren identifies four stages in the life of faith. So does M. Scott Peck. They are listed and compared on Spiritual development.
  • Finding Faith, p. 68: Those with a background or interest in psychology and counseling might benefit from the writings of M. Scott Peck.
  • On p. 192 The Road Less Traveled, by M Scott Peck (1978) is listed as resource.
  • Brian McLaren in An Open Letter to Chuck Colson, 02 Mar 2007: We believe that image (the language of imagination) and emotion (including the emotion of wonder) are essential elements of fully human knowing, and thus we seek to integrate them in our search for this precious, wonderful, sacred gift called truth, which you and I both love - and too often betray in spite of our best intentions.
  • Brian McLaren at the Emerging Church Conference in Albuquerque, NM on March 20-22, 2009: We need to restore contemplation to ‘know’ God. We need to bring back the contemplative practices of spiritual formation and social justice. It’s been amazing for me in my travels to meet so many pastors and other leaders for whom spiritual direction has become an important part of their spiritual lives. I think we need a growing corps (and core) of trained people for whom spiritual direction is a primary vocation.
  • Brian McLaren about Tony Jones’s book The Church Is Flat: “... You’ll gain substantive insights into the emerging church as a new social movement, scholarly reflection on the theory of practices, and critical engagement with the panentheist social trinitarianism of Jürgen Moltmann – ...”
  • Naked Spirituality was endorsed by Richard Rohr, Marcus J. Borg and Cynthia Bourgeault, (author of i.e. Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening). Each practice is rooted in a simple word: here, thanks, O, sorry, help, please, when, no, why, behold, yes, and silence.
  • Brian McLaren wrote the foreword to Disarming Scripture: Cherry-Picking Liberals, Violence-Loving Conservatives, and Why We All Need to Learn to Read the Bible Like Jesus Did, by Derek Flood. The book is endorsed by Walter Brueggemann and Jim Wallis.
  • We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation (2014) is endorsed by Phyllis TIckle, Rob Bell and Tony Jones.
  • Brian McLaren endorsed the contemplative book The Papa Prayer (2006) by Larry Crabb together with Bob Buford, Tony Campolo, Brennan Manning, John Ortberg and Dallas Willard.
  • Brian McLaren endorsed Falling Upward (2011) by Richard Rohr.
  • Brian McLaren in his blog This is a beautiful - and wise - meditation from my friend Fr. Richard Rohr. You can learn more about the Center for Action and Contemplation which he founded here. You will probably want to subscribe to the daily email meditations they send out, as I do ...
  • Brian McLaren was one of 72 spaeakers at The Global Interfaith Movement Parlament of the World Religions' 2015 Parlament of World Religions in Salt Lake Oct 15-19, 2015. Among the other 71 speakers we find Karen Armstrong, Jim Wallis, Marianne Williamson and Zach Hunter.
  • The Great Spiritual Migration (2016): "explores three conversions or spiritual migrations. Spiritually, McLaren advocates a migration from Christian faith defined as a system of beliefs to a love-centered way of life. Theologically, he challenges people to move from defending God as a violent Supreme Being to experiencing and embodying God as the nonviolent Holy Spirit. And missionally, he explores how congregations can move from being institutional outposts of organized religion to networked cells of organizing religion. In The Great Spiritual Migration, McLaren invites readers to join a movement that can shift the direction of Christian faith to be more in sync with its founder, more life-giving for individual Christians and congregations, and more of a just, generous, and joyful resource for the whole world."
  • Brian McLaren in April 1 2016: I find God in the face of Jesus, in the eucharist, in deep inner silence, and in one another. In fact, if someone asks me who or what God is, an honest though ever-incomplete answer would be ... "the beautiful and infinite mystery I find in Jesus, the eucharist, deep inner silence, the wonder of creation, and the loving encounter with others."
  • From McLaren challenges readers to stop worrying, waiting, and indulging in nostalgia, and instead, to embrace the powerful new understandings that are reshaping the church. In The Great Spiritual Migration, he explores three profound shifts that define the change:

    ∙ Spiritually, growing numbers of Christians are moving away from defining themselves by lists of beliefs and toward a way of life defined by love
    ∙ Theologically, believers are increasingly rejecting the image of God as a violent Supreme Being and embracing the image of God as the renewing Spirit at work in our world for the common good
    ∙ Missionally, the faithful are identifying less with organized religion and more with organizing religion—spiritual activists dedicated to healing the planet, building peace, overcoming poverty and injustice, and collaborating with other faiths to ensure a better future for all of us.
  • The Great Spiritual Migration (2016) is endorsed by Diana Butler Bass, Richard Rohr and Brian Zahnd.

Some of Brian McLarens favourite books (from or :


  • A Theory of Everything, Ken Wilber
  • The Marriage of Sense and Soul, Ken Wilber
  • "These two books by philosopher Ken Wilber are not Christian books, but the way of thinking Wilber promotes and exemplifies - which he calls "integral" thinking and which I call "emergent" thinking, is powerful and important, in my opinion."

  • Exclusion and Embrace, Miroslav Volf
  • The Mountain of Silence, Kyriacos Markides
  • "Kyriacos Markides recollection of his time with Father Maximos, a Greek Orthodox monk and mystic, is a wonderful introduction to Eastern Orthodox spirituality. Many of us feel that the problems identified by postmodern thinkers are the problems of western rationalism; to find Christian thought less enmeshed with western rationalism, we need to go back before the Reformation, before Augustine, to the Eastern fathers. If you want a readable introduction to the Eastern way of following Christ, this is highly recommended along with Anthony Bloom's Beginning to Pray, which began transforming my prayer life many years ago. (Thanks to Nick and Jamie Howard for this book.)

  • The Reluctant Saint, David Soto�s biography of St. Francis
  • The Lessons of St. Francis, John Michael Talbot and Steve Rabey


    "I read and re-read a lot of Walter Brueggemann's works this year in preparation for the emergent theological conversation with him in September."


  • God's Politics, Jim Wallis
  • The Coming of the Son of Man, Andrew Perriman
  • "This book is the best introduction I'm aware of to a fresh perspective on eschatology Many of us know that we desperately need an alternative to the "left behind" eschatology that is so popular (and unhelpful) these days. Here it is. Andrew takes some ideas that N. T. Wright has been proposing for several years, ideas that Tim King's "transmillennialism" also engages (but not yet in a popular book), and grapples with them in Paul as well as Jesus."

  • The Powers that Be, Walter Wink
  • "This book helped me a great deal in my work on The Secret Message of Jesus. It takes ideas from several of Wink's books and makes them easily - and provocatively - accessible."

  • Postmodern Youth Ministry, Tony Jones
  • The Sacred Way, Tony Jones
  • The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard
  • The Missionary Congregation, Leadership and Liminality, Alan J. Roxburgh
  • Postmodern Pilgrims, Leonard Sweet
  • A is for Abductive, Leonard Sweet
  • The Younger Evangelicals, Robert E. Webber
  • Ancient-Future Faith, Robert E. Webber
  • A Primer on Postmodernism, Stanley J. Grenz
  • The Emerging Church, Dan Kimball
  • Emerging Worship, Dan Kimball The Challenge of Jesus, N. T. Wright
  • The New Testament and the People of God, Jesus and the Victory of God, The Resurrection of the Son of God, N. T. Wright


The Future Is Calling Us to Greatness

with Michael Dowd (founder of Evolutionary Christianity)

January 5-18, 2015

"A worldwide movement has been emerging for decades, largely unnoticed, at the nexus of science, inspiration, and sustainability. Beliefs are secondary. What unites us is a pool of common values, priorities, and commitments regarding the importance of living in right relationship to reality and working together to ensure a just and healthy future for humanity and the larger body of life. This historic series of 30-60 minute Skype interviews showcases the work of some of the world’s most respected leaders and luminaries regarding what we may expect in the coming decades, what’s being done and what still needs to be done, and how to stay inspired to be in action in the face of enormous challenges and difficulties. These 55 experts represent a veritable Who’s Who of prophetic inspiration!"

Among the Experts we find:

  • Ken Wilber (Founder of the Integral Institute)
  • Deepak Chopra: Global Leader and Pioneer in the Field of Mind-Body Medicine
  • Barbara Marx Hubbard: President and Founder, The Foundation for Conscious Evolution
  • Matthew Fox: Founder of Creation Spirituality
  • Craig Hamilton: Evolutionary Spiritual Teacher; Founding Member of Integral Enlightenment
  • Brian McLaren: Author, Speaker, Activist, and Public Theologian.
    • "I was invited by my friend Michael Dowd to be one of  ..." "I’m absolutely amazed at the lineup of people my colleague Michael Dowd pulled together ..."


  • Brian McLaren was interviewed in November 2010 by Michael Dowd as part of a larger “evolutionary Christianity” project Dowd was involved with.
  • Brian McLaren also participated in Michael Dowd's programs January 1911 together with Matthew Fox , Richard Rohr, Sally Morgenthaler and 35 others.


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