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A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional, Evangelical, Post/Protestant, Liberal/Conservative, Mystical/Poetic, Biblical, Charismatic/Contemplative, Fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Green, Incarnational, Depressed-yet-Hopeful, Emergent, Unfinished CHRISTIAN Hardcover – August 31, 2004

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Editorial Reviews


...this book will make you think. In a time when wee seem to be preaching intolerance in the name of God, McLaren's book is a voice of reason. -- YouthWorker <br><br> (YouthWorker )

From the Back Cover

A confession and manifesto from a senior leader in the emerging church movement—A Generous Orthodoxy calls for a radical, Christ-centered orthodoxy of faith and practice in a missional, generous spirit. Brian McLaren argues for a post-liberal, post-conservative, post-protestant convergence, which will stimulate lively interest and global conversation among thoughtful Christians from all traditions.

In a sweeping exploration of belief, author Brian McLaren takes us across the landscape of faith, envisioning an orthodoxy that aims for Jesus, is driven by love, and is defined by missional intent. A Generous Orthodoxy rediscovers the mysterious and compelling ways that Jesus can be embraced across the entire Christian horizon. Rather than establishing what is and is not "orthodox," McLaren walks through the many traditions of faith, bringing to the center a way of life that draws us closer to Christ and to each other.

Whether you find yourself inside, outside, or somewhere on the fringe of Christianity, A Generous Orthodoxy draws you toward a way of living that looks beyond the "us/them" paradigm to the blessed and ancient paradox of "we."

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Product Details

  • Series: emergentYS
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan/Youth Specialties; First Edition edition (August 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310257476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310257479
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 1 x 5.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (212 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #627,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, pastor, and networker among innovative Christian leaders, thinkers, and activists. His groundbreaking books include A New Kind of Christian, A Generous Orthodoxy, The Secret Message of Jesus, and Everything Must Change. Named by Time magazine as one of America's top twenty-five evangelicals, McLaren has appeared on Nightline and Larry King Live, and has been covered by The Washington Post and the New York Times.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

130 of 140 people found the following review helpful By J. D Jones on June 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This books looks at, what the author sees as, some of the good and some of the bad in several Christian "traditions" (Protestant, Orthodox, Catholic, Anabaptist, etc.)

I felt like the author was raising some good questions and making fair points, though it was somewhat less original then I had anticipated. I know this sounds like a slam, but I do not mean it to be. Great teachers often represent old ideas in new ways. But being that this book came from the "emergent" crowd and the fact that the author often referred to "ways" that transcend old definitions, he doesn't clearly spell out what it means to be a "post-conservative and post-liberal". I'm 26 and attended university for two years in a very left wing university in France, so I don't think it's that I'm to old or out of it to grasp the values of the emerging generation, though, it is possible. Basically he highlights a lot of the values he has found in other traditions and calls for them to be a part of the church of tomorrow.

His point about the Bible being narrative theology was well done, though I've thought about the Hebrew taking of the promise land in quite the terms he described. He seems to be open to evolution as an idea, which may bother some, but he doesn't really dwell on this. At one points he mentions that the substitutionary atonement was not in the original creeds and seems to infer that perhaps shouldn't be among our fundamentals (though he doesn't say this directly). Many others, including myself, see this as one of the very foundations of Christian belief and how one can practice the presence of God (which he calls us to) without experiencing this truth atonement puzzles me.

His presentation of the Anabaptists was gold.
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304 of 344 people found the following review helpful By Paul Mullen on October 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
McLaren argues that all of the theological hair splitting misses the core message of Jesus. He spends some time talking about the elements of each of the "categories" and "denominations" that he would include in his more inclusive orthodoxy.

He effectively stirs the theological pots a bit, pulling lots of good chunks to the surface to chew on. I really don't agree with him on a few points, but I really enjoyed seeing his perspective and enjoyed his self-effacing, whimsical style.

I would challenge those like me in the evangelical circles to read this... not to confirm what we already believe... there are lots of books to do that... but to understand arguments outside our collective comfort zone. Whether your adopt McLaren's conclusions or not, understanding the thought process can be a helpful exercise. You may decide that you get clarity on your own beliefs simply by setting them in contrasting light to Brian McLaren's.

I wouldn't recommend this to someone who is new to the faith. Getting a clear understanding on the fundamentals (not fundamentalisms) ought to be a pre-requisite. This ought to be a mature audiences only (in terms of development of personal faith) book. But for those who have already wrestled with the big questions of faith you'll find this to be an easy read and worth the time you spend with it.
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62 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Kellemen on November 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Brian McLaren--author, pastor, professor, church leader--writes what his publishers describe as, "Orthodoxy beyond answers." This seems a fair assessment of McLaren's intent in, "A Generous Orthodoxy."

McLaren, as in all his writings, prefers story and poetry over systems and prose. In addition, he prefers a both/and approach over an either/or focus. In essence, "A Generous Orthodoxy" purposes to be a both/and story of major themes in Christian theology and Church history.

McLaren fashions himself a modern-day (perhaps we should say, "a post-modern-day") G. K. Chesterton, whose book, "Orthodoxy," McLaren quotes or refers to on numerous occasions. Though writing 100 years before McLaren, and 50 years before the supposed advent of post-modernity, Chesterton's discussion of Orthodoxy exposes the weaknesses both of modernity and post-modernity. If you are looking for Orthodoxy with answers, you may want to read Chesterton's classic.

McLaren goes to great lengths to emphasize his desire to not provide answers, but rather to raise questions. Because of this, for some, reading his book may feel more like Orthodoxy without answers. Indeed, there is a chasm between truth/facts beyond answers and truth/facts without answers. At times it can feel somewhat off-putting to be told in a variety of ways that those who search for answers either have an immature faith or a "modernity faith," but surely not a mature post-modern faith.

In my own ministry to post-moderns, I find them more interested in "answers" than might be imagined when reading "A Generous Orthodoxy." True, they find pat, trite answers distasteful. However, they do long for more than questions. I find that they desire Orthodoxy with reasoned answers discovered in loving community.
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61 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Garry W. Fulton on August 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
First of all let me say this is an incisive and thought provoking book. This is my first foray into the emergent church movement and its philosophy. In that regard this book was very informative. I enjoy books that challenge the status quo and this one certainly does that. Not that I agree with everything McLaren has written-I definitely do not. However, I like books that get you to "think outside the box" and outside of your comfort zone. We usually read books that reinforce our own thinking rather than engaging those whom we might disagree. That approach limits our growth as well as the development of logic in the defense for our principles, beliefs and worldview.

McLaren's "Generous Orthodoxy" is essentially a compilation of various items gleaned from numerous church denominations, sects, and movements. His is a "cafeteria" approach in which he picks and chooses what he likes and discards the rest. Over all he seems to be very gracious in his comments as he interacts with diverse schools of thought within Christendom. However, I fear that McLaren has given away too much in his widening of the orthodoxy tent. For instance, at the end of the chapter entitled "Why I am a Fundamentalist/Calvinist" he tells the reader that if anyone wants to be part of the generous orthodoxy that they should jettison the notion of "solas," i.e. sola fide (by faith alone) "sola Scriptura" (by Scripture alone) etc and/or the TULIP acronym of Calvinism along with any other creeds and beliefs that in his opinion denotes Christianity as reductionistic. However, these are elements I am not willing to discard because in a sense they define my understanding of orthodox Christianity.
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