If you would really like to know what Brian McLaren’s new book, Everything Must Change, is about here is the whole book in one diagram (click on it to enlargen):
Brian believes that those who want to live for Jesus’ kingdom need to be involved in these kinds of issues at the global level. What do you think?
Here is a good question: If the kingdom is Jesus’ answer, what was the problem? But here is Brian’s question: How does Jesus kingdom vision speak to the crises of our time? The former question was asked and answered — even if not quite in these terms and not entirely to my satisfaction — in his book Secret Message of Jesus. This book asks and seeks to answer the second question. The difference between these two questions and therefore these two books is significant — and it is unfair to the book and to reviewing this book to critique Brian’s new book for not answering the question he asked in the previous book. This doesn’t mean there aren’t theological questions about kingdom at work in this new book, but it does mean they have to be read together.
So now to this book — a book about what Jesus says to our global issues today:
Brian’s quest is to discover the major social issues and crises of our time; he examines what many have argued they are. He concludes there are three or four systems that are each also a crisis in our time: the prosperity crisis, the equity crisis, and the security crisis. Running through these three is the spirituality crisis. And each of these systems/crises is embedded in the “earth’s ecosystem.” (The diagram above makes this visible.)
Most importantly, we each tell ourselves “framing stories” that make sense of our relationship to each of these crises. Brian thinks that the stories we are telling are turning the “machine” — the interlocking of these three systems/crises — into a suicide machine bent on the destruction of the earth.
Now a word about each crisis and then the stories we tell ourselves.
1. Prosperity: fulfills our desire for happiness; feeds us with what we need and want.
2. Security: fulfills our desire for protection; feeds us with safety.
3. Equity: fulfills our desire for order; feeds us with safety.
The prosperity crisis is that our desires are too much and growth occurs at the expense of security and equity; our security system isn’t protecting us and we aren’t finding reconciliation; our equity system isn’t just because we don’t care for the common good but only ourselves.
And all of this is a machine in the earth’s ecosystem — as we see in the diagram above.
There are three kinds of narratives at work in our world:
1. Victim and revenge narratives that can escalate into warrior and revolution narratives or domination or imperial narratives.
2. Withdrawal or isolation narratives that are shaped by fear.
3. Theocapitalist narratives which turn markets into the “invisible hand” of Providence — blessing means obedience, poverty means alienation from God.
Brian argues that we need to reframe the stories if we have any hope in change for our world; the story that he thinks can reframe the whole is the kingdom story of Jesus.