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on December 2, 2015
This is a thought provoking book for any Christian. I have been a conservative, evangelical, Christian leader for over 25 years now, but there have been issues I have struggled with regarding life, truth, the bible, and faith. I won't say I agree with everything Brian McLaren has written in his book but he has caused me to re-evaluate much of what I have believed, and I feel I am better for it. I believe that was to a large extent the purpose of his book. If you are concerned at all about the state of the Christian church today or about its future, you are making a huge mistake if you don't put this book at the top of your reading list; it really is A-One!
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on October 9, 2014
McLaren's ideas won't resonate with everyone, but I would encourage Christians of all points on the conservative/moderate/liberal spectrum to read with an open mind, and see if there are ideas and points that might be worth thinking through. The book is well written in a conversational tone, and not at all a dry tome as the title and all of the big theological terms on the cover might suggest. McLaren has a gift for presenting deep ideas in simple language, as one would expect of an experienced preacher, and it serves him well in this work.

If you're a conservative reader, it will be tempting to proof-text your way through the book while working up a righteous indignation at this "godless liberal masquerading as a Christian". I would say that is counterproductive. Read the book, disagree with what you will, and open your mind and heart to what you might learn from the rest. If God can speak to Balaam through a donkey, he can surely speak to a reader through the words of a "liberal" theologian.
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on September 7, 2017
I was intrigued by the contrasts and conflicts presented in the subtitle. The book did not go where I thought it would. McLaren explores the wide spectrum of current Christian thinking with wit and aplomb. I did not expect to agree with him on all fronts, and I did not - yet I was very closely aligned with his perspective in most regards.
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on June 29, 2013
A year ago, if I had known this book existed, I probably would have given it 1 star without even reading it (as many people have done; just read a few of the 1-star reviews and you'll see what I'm talking about--it's obvious). Right now, it's overall rating on Amazon is 3.2. I would venture to guess that there are few books on Amazon as underrated as this one! McLaren writes with clarity, relevance, and refreshing insight. This book is helpful and important. Even if one does not agree with him, I think they could learn something by thoughtfully reading it. The way he integrates his knowledge and experience into addressing the major issues that confront Christianity today is practically unmatched. And perhaps most importantly, he exudes a contagious Christ-likeness.

So if McLaren is so brilliant and relevant and Christ-like, why is this book rated only 3.2 stars (currently)? Frankly, it is quite evident that people who do not see the world the way McLaren does are attacking him. In most cases, this is a personal attack and has nothing to do with his ability as a writer or this product in general. And their attacks are not Christ-like. And they are not relevant. And they are rarely brilliant. As I read through some of them, I thought to myself, "Do Emergent Christians gang up on the latest conservative-evangelical author and bombard his or her books with 1-star ratings, simply because they disagree? Actually, I have never seen this. And it's not because Emergent Christians couldn't do this if they wanted to: Emergents and conservative-evangelicals have radically different presuppositions and understandings of the world; they could argue back and forth all day. I would like to think the reason that this type of attacking doesn't go both ways is because Emergent Christians are nicer. I hate to say that; I love conservative-evangelicals and have proudly bore that banner myself. But in honesty, I have to say that many conservatives value "truth" more than people. And McLaren addressed this issue in his book, if only those reviewers had actually read it.

So maybe this book is truly a 4.5-star book, whether you agree with him or not. I'm more than happy to give it five to countervail my captious evangelical brethren.
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on February 3, 2015
This is one of the most formative books for any person looking to understand the majority of the upcoming "younger" generations. I am an educator, and this theology (regardless of your own personal theology) is extremely representative of the upcoming generation's beliefs.
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on March 24, 2015
This book is a realistic view of the Christian experience and approach in the Unites States, and how those have been damaged by extremes and ethnocentric views. It is a highly enjoyable read, with humor, but a depth that makes you question not what but how you believe and how that drives your interactions with others, and what the similarities and differences look like. Reading as part of a study group, and it has positive reviews all around. Highly recommend reading this book.
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on June 9, 2015
Exploding the top off my head. Opening avenues for me to think and feel what I felt guilty thinking and feeling. Thank you, Brian!
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on December 21, 2005
Brian Mclaren is a prolific supporter of the emrgent movement, which is sort of a rhizome of modern Christianity. Despite the tiny, tiny type and the annoyingly clustered format, this book is important to Christians seeking identifiers for new Christian thought.

Although not a scholarly work, Mclaren's book, small, but-- neither simple nor short--requires study and reflection. In this work, Mclaren defines many of the words floating around our theosphere these days --emergent Christian, evangelical, fundamental, post- modern, and most importantly for me: liberal and conservative.

McLaren seeks to honor both liberals and conservatives, but doesn't want to be trapped in either category. He lauds liberals for following the teachings of Jesus by tackling difficult social issues. He praises conservatives for work in individual conversion and basic discipleship. In terms of Biblical authority, conservatives see the Bible as ultimate authority which can be interpreted by leaders and recognized teachers. Liberals, on the other hand, welcome free inquiry and explorative interpretation of scripture using recent archaeological and historical discoveries. He offers the opinion that mistakes on both sides are the focus on "our" best and "your" worst.

The book divides into two parts of unequal length: "Why I Am a Christian" (four chapters) and "The Kind of Christian I Am" (sixteen chapters). The first part begins with "The Seven Jesuses I Have Known" In essence, McLaren tells the story of his interaction with people of each of the Christian traditions mentioned in the title.

The second part is an elaboration of the ideas identified in the first part.. McLaren wants to find a middle way between existing extremes of religious thought and practice. Although he often sounds "liberal", he is no fan of relativism and believes in the authority of Scripture and the Trinity.

The part about Anglicanism is quite short and to the point. Anglicans, he writes, seek discernment in the "dynamic tension of Scripture, tradition, reason and experience." Anglicans practice compromise and tolerance, "keeping a high level of respect for brothers and sisters who do not agree with you. It acknowledges that not everyone will reach the same conclusions at the same pace on every issue."

What binds together the diversity of Anglican thought is the beauty of the liturgy. Anglican liturgy with its elegant mystery unites us in worship, if not dogma. One can only hope that current schisms will be resolved over time, as was previous turmoil over issues like transubstantiation in early Anglican history and the role of women in recent Church history.

McLaren explains the term emergent by relating it to saplings that grow up in the shadow of mature trees. Over time, as the mature trees die, the emergent are already planted, ready to receive the now exposed abundant light and begin to grow toward fullness.

As we approach the Christmas season, we will do well to remember the Incarnation, which binds us together as Christians. Jesus, the human voice of the Trinity, tells us to love others, even those whose faith does not have the same dimensions as ours. He says that all religions are threatened by fundamentalists which seek to eradicate all beliefs but their own. He reminds us that Jesus came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it; not to condemn people but to save them.
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on May 22, 2010
First, I would definitely NOT read this book as my first encounter with author, Brian McLaren. I would definitely read the reviews listed here or elsewhere on one of his many other books concerning the Emergent movement or Post-Modern Christianity. The only other book of his I've read is "The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth that could Change Everything" which I liked (even though the title was a bit too over-the-top provocative for me). But now to "A Generous Orthodoxy". It has that engaging, conversational 'McLaren' style which is highly readable. He raises so many thought-provoking questions as to what he, personally, has taken (and discarded!) from so many different political, spiritual, and Christian denominational practices and perspectives, to mold the Christian that he is - at that particular moment in time. And his questions and journey gives one and provokes you to want to explore other paths outside of your own church and religious worldview. I think that's a really good thing. My problem with the book is that it was a little too 'stream of consciousness' - unorganized in how each individual perspective (the "Why I Am A...") was presented. And if you happen to be unfamiliar with certain religious traditions/denominational histories you might get a bit lost or lose interest... but those places are few and far between. All in all I think the book's problem is that it needed a stronger editorial hand in place... so it didn't come out as clumsy as the title!
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on July 15, 2015
For all of us who grew up in the conservative Christian church - GET THIS BOOK. you may not agree with all of it, but it's about time we stepped out of the umbrella, looked around, learned new perspectives, and considered how Big God could really be.
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