Last night I finished Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian. I am reading it for a BIC Core Course I am taking next week. If you are not aware, Brian McLaren is part of the emergent/post-modern church so it gives you an idea of where he is coming from. Some people reject everything that is labelled post-modern or emergent but I think that is a mistake as these writers have great insights and opinion to share with the body of Christ. I have learned a lot from reading books from the writers of the emergent church. I enjoyed the book even though he deeply challenges the historical and orthodox views of the Christian church of which I consider myself to be part of. Is McLaren heterodox (outside of orthodoxy) as others have suggested? I can’t say. The book is in narrative format so just like with Bible study, one has to be careful to exegete too much theology from a narrative writing format.
I liked the book because it is a narrative style. A story format certainly makes theology easier to read so I appreciate this creative approach in this book. A New Kind of Christian is a story of two friends (a pastor and a science teacher) who discuss their evolving theology and the personal reformation that it brings to their lives. However, the problem with a narrative approach is that as these deep theological issues are discussed by the characters, but you feel left with a lot of unanswered questions due to the lack of clear systematic presentation on these topics. When you read this book, in which he proposes that our understanding of Christianity has been perverted by the modernist world we live in, you can’t help but wonder what he means and where he is going with all of it. But too often the questions are left unanswered or not clearly answered. It left me with a small level of frustration. It is the inherent downside of this style of writing. However, the result is an engaging story that makes the book very easy to read and usable by all readers.
As I was reading this book, I thought McLaren needs to bring forward a clear comprehensive treatment of how this new kind of Christian becomes a new kind of Christianity. Well, apparently he has that very thing. He has a newer book, called a New Kind of Christianity that does that exposits his theology in a more systematic way. I am going to read it shortly and post my thoughts on this blog.