The fourth question that is “transforming the faith,” according to author and speaker Brian McLaren, is the question of who Jesus is. This may seem to be something of an odd question because Christianity itself is dependent on the Person of Jesus. If we don’t know who Jesus is then we probably don’t know what Christianity is either. In fact, this is precisely the point McLaren is trying to make in this section of his book. He writes, “just saying the name ‘Jesus’ doesn’t mean much until we make clear which Jesus we are talking about. We must face the fact that many different saviors can be smuggled in under the name ‘Jesus,’ just as many different deities can be disguised under the term ‘God’ and vastly different ways of living can be promoted under the name ‘Christianity'” (p. 119). He is, of course, absolutely right about this, but simply making the observation that many different interpretations exist of who Jesus is doesn’t automatically make your interpretation the right one. We must now take a closer look at what McLaren claims the “real” Jesus is like.
It is something of a surprise to me just how many Christians are unfamiliar with Brian McLaren. Although by no means a household name, Brian McLaren is probably one of the top five most influential writers/thinkers within (and to some degree outside of) evangelicalism. While you or your family may not be reading his books or his website, I can almost guarantee that one or more of the leaders at your church are. Initially, McLaren was nearly synonymous with the "emerging" church movement, but lately he has become more independent of this association; not because he has made a deliberate break with them, but mainly because he has outgrown them. And even though he is saying many of the same things as the emerging church, McLaren has a much bigger platform from which to say it.