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A New Kind Of Christianity

Book Review: A New Kind of Christianity by Brian McLaren

From time to time, I am provided books by “Viral Bloggers,” provided I am willing to write a brief review and post in on my blog.  I do this joyfully because I love to read and the books are free in exchange for a honest review.  There are many viral-bloggers, however, and only a few books.  Often I am unable to obtain a title that I want.

 When Brian McLaren’s new book, A New Kind of Christianity, was made available to the viral-blogging community, I quickly went to the site to claim a copy.  Unfortunately, I was too late.  All available books were snatched up in a matter of minutes.

 Still, as a big fan of McLaren’s books, I could not let this one pass me by.  So, I went to my nearby bookstore and paid out my own money for a chance to digest more of McLaren’s thoughtful prose.  Now that I have read the book, I consider it to have been a wise investment.

 The opening pages of the book were very amusing for me.  In them McLaren describes how he’d become known as a “dangerous” heretic.  That’s hardly anything that anyone might aspire to.  McLaren does, not to cause trouble, but rather to address the very real challenges that confront Christianity in this post modern era.  Like him or not, we ought to be grateful for voices like McLaren – people who are willing to ask hard questions and not accept the pabulum  of traditional orthodoxy.     

 McLaren’s desire is to see Christianity survive the political polarization that has come to exist between fundamentalism and liberalism.  The response for McLaren, however, is not to find some “middle ground,’ but rather to find a new way of being Christian in the emergent age.  Of course, this is fraught with danger.  Still, the church has experienced these types of reformation before.  The aim of this book is to provide a somewhat ordered and structured  guide through the rough waters that Christianity finds itself in.

 McLaren structures his book around “Ten Questions” which (as they are being answered) are “transforming the faith.”  These questions are as follows:

The Narrative Question: What Is the Overarching Story Line of the Bible?

The Authority Question: How Should the Bible Be Understood?

The God Question: Is God Violent?

The Jesus Question: Who Is Jesus and Why Is He Important?

The Gospel Question: What Is the Gospel?

The Church Question: What Do We Do About the Church?

The Sex Question: Can We Find a Way to Address Human Sexuality Without Fighting About It?

The Future Question: Can We Find a Better Way of Viewing the Future?

The Pluralism Question: How Should Followers of Jesus Relate to People of Other Religions?

The What-Do-We-Do-Now Question: How Can We Translate Our Quest into Action?

 While ordered and structured, McLaren’s book is hardly systematic.  The questions McLaren’s asks are more pastoral than theological.  They are the kinds of questions I hear asked, in one way or another, from a wide variety of people across the conservative/liberal perspective.  To this end, McLaren’s thoughtful and easy to read volume should lend itself to some wonderful coffee house discussions.

 A New Kind of Christianity is probably the best ordered presentation to date of emergent theology.  To this end, that it important, since the “emergent church” movement has typically been a bit lightweight when it comes to this kind of material.  If you are new to the movement and want to get a good idea of what it’s all about in the words of one of its greatest thinkers, then rush out and get your copy right now.

This blog also posted at http://viralbloggers.com/2010/01/a-new-kind-of-christianity-by-brian-mclaren/comment-page-1/#comment-568

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