“How do you get on the side of Jesus and his secret kingdom?” Or, what if a modern person wants to follow Jesus, “What do you do?” How do you move from “egotism, racism, consumerism, hedonism, and its associated –isms to the expansive kingdom of God (in which, we might say, all those -isms are to become –was-ms)?” So, in chp. 13 McLaren asks how one becomes a Christian. Further down we’ll also look at his theory of pacifism. What do you think of his “steps” for becoming a Christian?
First, it begins in the heart and to think deeply, or to re-think everything deeply … in other words, it means to repent. Which means to learn that “our worst failure has been swallowed up in someone else’s save” (108). Second, it involves trust. Third, you have to become receptive — to everything. Fourth, the person goes public with confession. Finally, you learn to follow Jesus with all of your life.
Should one choose to say “I’m in,” then what is it like? His 3d section is all about Imagination and how a kingdom vision changes everything. McLaren has two chps on the Sermon on the Mount. (Pretty hard to summarize commentary on biblical passages, except to say that I see McLaren along anabaptist and Dallas Willard lines about how to interpret the Sermon on the Mount.)
In his chp on the Language of the kingdom, McLaren explores six metaphors for the secret kingdom message of Jesus: dream of God, revolution of God, mission of God, party of God, network of God, and the dance of God. Each of these has value for how to understand “kingdom.”
In the peaceable kingdom shalom becomes the operative word. McLaren explores Christian options on war and violence, and he sides with the pacifist side but he is respectful of just war but finds the crusader view and co-optation of the Church in the Constantinian framework to be radically at odds (“nightmarish”) with Jesus himself. Those committed to nonviolence will someday be right; we are to love our enemies; we have a common enemy: evil. The just war theory is really the “preliminary violence reduction theory” (taking this from Walter Wink).