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A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey Hardcover – March 28, 2001
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From Library Journal
McLaren, pastor and author of The Church on the Other Side, proposes that postmodernism is the road to take in order to move on from the current stalemate between conservative evangelical and liberal Christians. His books are part of his activist work to promote "innovation, entrepreneurial leadership and a desire to be on the leading edge of ministry." Here he has adopted the fictional tale of an earnest, very conservative pastor who has become so burned out in his church life that he is planning to quit the pastorate. Instead, he makes friends with his daughter's science teacher, who leads him to an enthusiastic embracing of postmodernism as applied to the Christian message. In this fictional conversation, McLaren describes this process as a journey of Holy Spirit-guided faith "through the winds and currents of change." His conservative pastor character comes to accept the Bible as a premodern text that presents its message in story and does not have to conform to our modern expectations. The book's attention-grabbing format is an effective mode of presenting McLaren's ideas. Recommended for all public libraries. Eugene O. Bowser, Univ. of Northern Colorado, Greeley
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“…This book is, quite simply, brilliant…” (Faith for Life, 21/12/04)
"This is a book that heightens the depths and deepens the peaks. Like all the best things in life, it is not to be entered into lightly, but reverently and in the fear of a God who is waiting for the church to stop asking 'What would Jesus do?' and start asking 'What is Jesus doing?'" (Dr. Leonard Sweet, E. Stanley Jones Chair in Evangelism, Drew University, and bestselling author of Post-Modern Pilgrims, SoulSalsa, SoulTsunami, and AquaChurch; coauthor of A Cup of Coffee at the Soul Cafe)
"Get ready to wake up your spirit and breath deep. McLaren's A New Kind of Christian is a street-level, lived excursion into this present millennium-a world where ministry by control, condescension, and smug certainty gives way to incarnational faith." (Sally Morgenthaler, president, SJM Management Co. and author of Worship Evangelism)
"McLaren's courageous and honest reassessment of our cherished customs and cliches stimulates creative thinking on these vital issues. A New Kind of Christian is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in preparing the church to be vital force in the next generation." (Chuck Smith, Jr., senior pastor, Capo Beach Valvary Chapel and author, The End of the World As We Know It)
"...an engaging tale..." (Christianity & Renewal, July 2002)
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After following McLaren's writing for several years, one of my bigger criticisms of this book is that it seems he had personally already drawn conclusions, and had an agenda that he had not yet committed to openly talking bout in 'A New Kind of Christian.' At the time, this seemed like a fairly sincere exploration of questions and doubts that I think most of us have, if we're honest with ourselves. I wish he was more open about his position in this piece particularly, so it didn't feel like he was trying to sneak something in. To be clear, I'm not criticicising his position in general, I'm actually mostly a fan, just the method of communication.
Definitely worth the read, just approach it with somewhat of a critical eye.
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".
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He knows what the true issues of our current realities are and address them in a way that invites one to be pulled forward into...Read more