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This attempt at inter-faith dialog is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed by the apostles even at the risk of death. It is a jumbled, garbled quasi-spiritual gobbledygook that appeals only to those not receptive any longer to Christ crucified, risen, ascended, returning as Judge offering repentance and remission of sins for right standing's reconciled relations with One Who is angry at renegade sinners dear to Him unless and until they turn away from falsegods and embrace the True God & his Son Jesus only and fully once for all.Think otherwise? Check out the messages recorded by Acts given by Peter & Paul. Compare to the material you read here.It's like South calling itself True North! It's comparable to Disingenuous Orthodontics without the retainer. Teeth seem realigned for a while, but soon gravitate back to even worse crookedness. Meanwhile you're out a substantial sum and your mouth is sore for nothing. Surely there are more reliable practitioners to get things straightened out than we have here!
I will be more generous to Brian McLaren's book then many of his reviewers, who seem to be missing his point. If we understand his work as an emerging book that is part of an emerging movement within the evangelical fold then we can better appreciate it for what it is- an invitation to dialogue. The presentation is a little sketchy. I would have appreciated a more in depth discussion at every point, but then that would be an entirely different book. The print is small and the book lay out makes it a little unappealing to read. For anyone interested in evangelicalism and its response to the modern world, this book is for you. In terms of presenting the gospel in the post modern context our evangelical Christianity is starting to fall on deaf ears. It has become frightened, defensive, and stuck in the context of a rigid response to a modernism that is vanishing. The ground is likewise shifting under the mainline churches in their response to modernism. McLaren is fleshing out a different way of viewing some of the polarities that exist between liberal/conservative, church/world, and the individual/community. His book is like fresh water flowing into a stagnant pond. He discuses most of the issues that people find troubling in evangelicalism and is asking for an open dialogue with all Christian groups, atheists and people of other faiths. If you are an evangelical, and theologically inclined you will be very familiar with the issues he raises. He does not spend much time sharing the comparative advantage of his approach. Since his focus is missional, I suspect he believes this approach is the best and most natural way to bring the Gospel to others.
I finished this book yesterday. In my opinion it is a great read.Yes, it is provocative. Yes, many will find it troubling.But if we are truly generous with the author and seek to understand his intentions (which I believe are to make us think rather than answer every question we might have) then I think we can all greatly profit from this book.Coming from an evangelical background (and still making a transition to a post-evangelical understanding) many of his remarks concerning evangelicals and their relationship to the world and sinners stung particularly bad.Also helpful are McLaren's discussion of the Bible, missional/incarnational theology, and the environment.At Denver Seminary I took an excellent class from Dr. Danny Carroll called "Reading the Bible from the 2/3rds World". This class was the first time someone ripped the lenses I read the Bible with out from in front of my eyes. I found that my interpretation of Scripture and what I believed to be biblical where greatly influenced by my presuppositions, tradition, culture, gender, and so on.McLaren's book, if you will allow it, will do the same for you. It will remove the spectacles you see Christianity, Jesus, liberals, conservatives, God, the Bible, etc. from your face. And though it may seem scary or impossible now, you may actually like the view better.
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