A review of A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith by Brian McLaren
HarperOne, New York, 2010

For those yet to be introduced to the phenomenon of the ‘emergent church’, here are a few of its premises and practices:

  • Don’t look for or act like you have answers—you’ll ruin the dialogue!
  • Keep yourself so busy doing good works that you never bother to critically examine anything you believe—unless it is something out of a conservative Christian tradition.
  • Be so afraid to offend others (except conservative Christians) that you are unwilling to even say to them, ‘You’re wrong’.

Our subject here is Brian McLaren’s book A New Kind of Christianity, but these descriptors just as aptly fit any of his other books, or any work by any ‘emergent’ author. McLaren does happen to be a leading figure in this movement, and this latest book of his has the tenor of a manifesto on behalf of himself and his emergent cohorts, so to that extent, it warrants a bit more attention than it might otherwise be given.

McLaren is not a pleasant read, even from a narrative perspective. His prose rambles constantly, and he seems to take one or more eternities to get to a point, only to reveal to the reader at the end that he didn’t actually have one. He freely admits that his writings can be frustrating, but it is not for the reasons that he thinks: Not because his ideas are challenging or disturbing, but because he handles Scriptural texts and issues with the same facility that one might handle needle-threading with the disadvantage of a boxing glove….

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