Customer Review

20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful & challenging even with its shortcomings, December 3, 2007
This review is from: Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope (Hardcover)
As I read through Everything Must Change, I'm struck by something impossible to avoid. No, it's not the epistemologic issues. And yes, the ecclectic, synchretistic theology does bother me (as it should). But what I find most striking is his desire to revive the positive of Christianity (and Islam, etc.). He wants the positive results, the positive message, everything that not only reinforces good feelings but also motivates us to good works for the benefit of others.

As I read it, I couldn't help but reflect on some 19th c. theology that I read recently in The Golden Dawn, or Light on the Great Future. What McLaren is asking for is not at all unlike the pre-WWI, pre-Moody, postmillennial wishes for a better world, a successful place for all, a Christianity where everything is done, if not right, as best we can possibly do it. But I think this is naive. The postivists of two centuries ago rode the wave of modernity. Today's postmodern wants to maintian the Positive without the Modern. I won't hold my breath. I see McLaren's outlook as the ultimate in post-postive positivism. You can't resurrect a dead horse.

One thing that McLaren implicitly requests is that Christianity become an initiator of positive change. Some of what he asks for is doable and practical. Some of it we already do, but could do more of and more often. But other matters would require a degree of political ascent, and that's what got us into 1500 years of problems as it was. So, while I appreciate some of his sentiments, I actually don't think he is going far enough with his framework. There is a degree of separation from modernity that will help us. I wish he would consider some additional steps and then evaluate them for more consistency.

Despite his dependence on that unstated theonomy necessary to implement this type of social change, he does confront the Christian with dependence on the current world system. The section on theocapitalism is especially worth the time to read. Nevertheless one cannot help but see that his views are tainted by an overly-optimistic outlook. The secularists, and many of us within evangelicalism, have had quite enough of misused politics. McLaren is proposing another politic, and I don't know that the world is ready for such an alternative. His (apparently) postmillennial outlook is consumed with social justice with a good deal of need for a mechanism to implement it.

I like some of his core principles but am disturbed by his responsiveness first to needs and complaints instead of first responding to Scripture.

Do I recommend this book? Yes. I find his arguments weak but his critique of the church, though it has errors, to be clearly-stated and useful. There is always something to learn from our critics. Brian McLaren's work makes a useful mirror for us to reflect upon, but not to gaze upon.
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