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Brian McLaren invites us on a journey with two friends as they seek to find out what it means to be Christian. It is challenging and thought provoking, and though I do not agree wholeheartedly with the book or its claims it has changed how I view much of what is called christian today and helped me to understand what a new kind of christian might be like. The phrase that catches me is "We are not talking about "the" new kind of Christian or a "better" kind of Christian, but a new kind of Christian." One who has been changed by modernity and seen its flaws, but is also aware that he/she has flaws as well.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
I am exactly the audience this book is supposed to connect with. I was right there in the young evangelical circles who were being most affected by the ideas contained in this book. And I was dissatisfied with what I was finding. The book does connect with me to an extent. To be sure, when it was written in 2001 I think yes, cutting edge, very strong, beneficial challenge to mainstream evangelicalism (though I was not ready for it). Since then there has been quite a few groundbreaking books in a similar vein. Donald Miller's "blue like jazz", Shane Claiborne's "the irresistible revolution", and others who haven't quite hit the mainstream like Frank Schaeffer "crazy for God" and "Patience with God", and other authors still more recent like Rob Bell and Shane Hipps who have pushed the envelope further. Because this book does define a lot of who I am I have to say yes to 4/5 of it. However, the 1/5 is the part that sticks out.
From my perspective, his basic premise of needing a new kind of christian is absolutely right on. I'm not totally sure that the word Christian is worth salvaging from the mess people have made of it. Jesus said a lot of good things and is definitely worth following. There is a lot of controversy here that I don't feel compelled to get involved in at the moment.
In the intro the author acknowledges one of the big problems: the over-usage of the now somewhat over-generalized terms of modern and post modern. This is probably the biggest single part of his argument, and yes, like the author acknowledges, it is too general. It needs to be more specific about which "Post-" he is talking about.
I'm frustrated with the end of the book. Much of the talk throughout the book is about transcending organization yet mcclaren closes it with how to box up this "outside of the box" movement. It is organic, right? Alright then, let it be organic!
It is easy to see his attempt at writing a good story falling into the cheesy category (and he admits it). He is also dealing with a lot of modern philosophy like Michael Polanyi who seems like he was big for the author, but I think the example falls flat to me. Perhaps if I knew more about Michael Polanyi it would help. I'm interested in him now. As one who has got into a lot of Biblical studies there's a number of places that are for and against his argument he could have used. I also would have liked to see some interaction with the new england transcendentalists of the 1800s (Thoreau, Emerson) who (as post-puritans) I think contribute very deeply to this discussion.
I admit I have not read any other more recent mcclaren books and perhaps the more recent editions contain further thinking...However, I fear he is missing that furthest step into authenticity he needs for a fifth star from me. If you are really interested in a book that transcends McClaren's transcending ideas check out Anton zijderveld and peter zerger's "in praise of doubt" and for the more specific to Christianity/the church, (and a very easy read!) i would make sure to read Shane hipps' "selling water by the river".
2 of 2 people found this review helpful