This stirring fable captures a new spirit of Christianity - where personal, daily interaction with God is more important than institutional church structures, where faith is more about a way of life than a system of belief, where being authentically good is more important than being doctrinally "right," and where one's direction is more important than one's present location. Brian McLaren's delightful account offers a wise and wondrous approach for revitalizing Christian spiritual life and Christian congregations.
©2001 Brian D. McLaren; (P)2008 christianaudio.com
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.
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".
Celtic Folk, Rock & Fiction
Probably one of the best, most life-changing books I've encountered so far. The audio delivery was incredible, especially the accents and voices of the characters. Being a voice actor myself, I was really impressed.
It wasn't a major event, just a comment. Neo talked about care of his elderly mother as ministry. The priesthood of all believers is a profound and sorely neglected truth.
This was my first. It was great.
Don't come to this book for pat answers. If you're the kind of person who needs to have you faith life "tilled" this is a good book for you. It will give you a lot to think about, it will reframe a lot of issues, it will put back to square one in a new world, but it will give you hope that Christianity doesn't have to continue to fade away.
If you are a Christian, serious about pursuing your walk with God and not falling into error, this is a book that you will read with caution and discernment. I found it interesting to read what the 'emerging church' believes in fiction format and found myself agreeing with much of what the author is revealing. However, (and this is a big one) all error contains some truth and the overall message of this book is that Jesus is not the ONLY way to the Father. Read it carefully and compare it to scripture before you make your final decision about what it is teaching.
"Excellent and thought provoking."
In this book Christians are challenged and thoughts developed in helpful practical ways to encourage a new way of engaging the world.
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