In the last third of Everything Must Change, Brian imagines ‘what it would be like to reevaluate, renew, and rebuild the three primary systems of our society [security, prosperity and equity],’ through the new framing story of the good news/kingdom of God, as set out by Jesus (p.155).
Though one might at times suggest that there is idealism and even speculation in what Brian writes, there is also a complex and considered engagement taking place, and nothing I can say here will do justice to the depth of the theological, political, social, and economic arguments being set out. Therefore, please don’t take my brevity as an indication that what Brian has done is sparse. Nothing could be further from the truth. However, having mulled it over, I’m going to opt to jump over Brian’s arguments re: security, prosperity and equity, and simply give a brief insight into the final section of the book: ‘A Revolution of Hope’, leaving you to read Brian for yourself.
Given all that’s gone before, Brian opens his final section with an obvious and pertinent question: Can the earth really be liberated from the destructive framing story that drives it? Is Jesus’ healing and transforming framing story really powerful enough to save the world? (p.277). And with beautiful honesty and as if to stifle overenthusiastic but ill-thought-through whoops of, ‘Yes! You Bet it is?’ Brian simply says – ‘nobody knows’. Having spent the last few hundred pages dealing with complexities and nuances, he clearly isn’t about to short-change the reader with a ‘let-go and let-God’ attitude to the global challenge facing us all. But then, neither is he about to hand over the problem to a politics of reason that’s devoid of any consideration of the Christ-event. This is an overtly Christological solution to global issues, with an implicit question at its center: what other kind of solution is there?
Brian suggests that at the heart of the crises is the issue of belief – do we really believe the framing story of Jesus? For what constitutes the power of any story is that we believe it. Challenging us that the, ‘framing story that dominates our world today has no power except the power we give it by believing it’ (p.278).
Effectively, what Brian is putting forward is a conversion from one dominating narrative to another, with the very future of the planet at stake.
Of course, such a conversion isn’t easy, because the current framing story doesn’t make it so, enticing us to keep faith with the current system by making big promises (p.279). Therefore, ‘Our great choice is whether or not we will dare to believe against the suicide machine, and believe Jesus, toward a different world (p.282).’ Proving what is perhaps hard to believe, that ‘believing is the most radical thing we can do’ (p.282).
Of course, belief (faith) without action, without a change in behavior is dead. Therefore, in line with the biblical metaphor of the ‘living sacrifice’, ‘We will give up the life we could have lived, the life we would have lived – pursuing pleasure, leisure, treasure, security, whatever. And instead, we will live a life dedicated to replacing the suicide machine with sacred ecosystems, beautiful community, an insurgency of healing and peace, a creative global family, an unterror movement of faith, hope, and love’ (p.286). For, as the title of this fascinating and challenging book suggests, the framing story of the good news and the kingdom of God means everything must change.
Some may find Brian’s latest book a radical departure from his previous writing. Indeed, some of his natural constituents may feel that they’ve lost a champion to the kind of issues that are being tackled by Jim Wallis, et al. Personally, I think there is a natural progression taking place here, from the New Kind of Christian trilogy into The Secret Message of Jesus and onto Everything Must Change. Which I guess means that there are potentially thousands of other Christians who are on a similar faith trajectory as Brian, making for exciting times ahead.
PS- For more info and details of Brian’s upcoming US tour go here: http://www.brianmclaren.net/