I’ve read several of Brian McLaren’s books before and I’ve always appreciated his humility, his genuine love for God, his generosity in dealing with people who believe differently and the approachability of his writing style. There have been several times though where I felt he was deconstructing and asking questions and leaving us, the readers, to find the answers. This has made for some great conversations around his books but I’ve also felt like I’d love to know the conclusions that he came to on these same topics.
I had heard that his newest book “A New Kind of Christianity” might be the book where Brian moves from deconstruction to constructing new ways of thinking for a new kind of Christianity so I was thrilled to receive my copy from the publisher and I jumped right in.
The book is based around ten questions whose answers Brian believes will shape the way that Christianity will move forward.
The chapters about the narrative arc of the Bible, and how we should read and interpret were fascinating. Brian talks about how many believers view the Bible as a constitutional document that we go to for “case law” in order to defend our actions, or condemn others, when the Bible is written as a library of poems, histories, parables, and letters.
The chapter about a moving from the view of a violent tribal God to a Christlike God was especially eye opening to me. It sounds like a no brainer but it was really an AHA moment for me when Brian talked about the fact that not only is Jesus like God, but God is like Jesus. Brian says it this way, “The Bible’s highest value is in revealing Jesus, who gives us the highest, deepest, and most mature view of the character of the living God.”
This book covers lots of ground, and not only theology, but practical, down to earth material that helps us visualize what these new ways of thinking mean to the way that we live out our everyday lives.
Overall I found this book to be very respectful and humble. I found Brian’s writing to be motivated out of a deep love for Jesus and the people who are trying their best follow Jesus. I can’t say I agree 100% with everything Brian has written but I really appreciate the way he makes me think long and hard about what I believe and why. This book can be very challenging at times, especially if you come from a church background, but I would encourage you to read it with an open mind, and ideally with a few friends that could read through it with you and discuss your thoughts along the way.