A Generous Orthodoxy
This Is the New-and-Improved Church??
When you want to make big $$ with a book, pitch it to the largest audience possible. Certainly the author of this toxic book had that in mind, positioning himself (and the potential buyer) as the cool, enlightened thinker who is Ã¢ÂÂbeyond categories,Ã¢ÂÂ neither liberal nor conservative, etc. This passes for wisdom in what is called the Ã¢ÂÂemergentÃ¢ÂÂ church. IÃ¢ÂÂll propose a better name: Ã¢ÂÂsubmergent post-Christian poppycock,Ã¢ÂÂ for it certainly submerges Christianity (as in drowning). The author claims he accepts the historic creeds of the church (ApostlesÃ¢ÂÂ and Nicene) and believes in the Bible (sort of). What his religion is based on is (surprise!) Ã¢ÂÂlove for all creation,Ã¢ÂÂ which, as in any religious book written post-1960, is the only thing required of Christians. He is correct: the Bible says a lot about loveÃ¢ÂÂbut also a lot about living morally, which requires self-control and self-disciplineÃ¢ÂÂin short, saying Ã¢ÂÂNoÃ¢ÂÂ to oneself, something that Christian authors over the centuries took for granted. Ã¢ÂÂLove is all you needÃ¢ÂÂ is the sentiment of Lennon and McCartney, not of the BibleÃ¢ÂÂyou DO need more than just love. Singing Kum Ba Yah is nice, but the Christian life is a little more demanding than that, and all our individual and global problems will not be solved by a group hug. (When your wife catches you with another woman, see if sheÃ¢ÂÂll buy your Ã¢ÂÂlove is all you needÃ¢ÂÂ excuse.)
Any book like this is bound to make a few valid points about the failings of Christianity. Granted, there is much to criticize. But I hardly think this authorÃ¢ÂÂs vision of spirituality as Ã¢ÂÂsmile a lot and be tolerantÃ¢ÂÂ is any closer to Christianity than what you could find in any church.
I was, frankly, horrified that Zondervan, which used to be reliably Christian, published this load of poisonous poppycock. To quote Jesus (a good source, in my opinion), Ã¢ÂÂYou cannot love God and money.Ã¢ÂÂ The book is making money for them now, but wait a few years and watch how evangelicals go the way of the mainlines, i.e., losing members by the thousands, since there just isnÃ¢ÂÂt much excitement in getting up on Sunday morning to hear the preacher say Ã¢ÂÂSmile, be tolerant, and recycle.Ã¢ÂÂ That, in a nutshell, is what the Ã¢ÂÂemergentÃ¢ÂÂ church is, an attempt by so-called Christians at getting the approval (or at least the attention) of unbelievers by saying, Ã¢ÂÂHey, weÃ¢ÂÂre not hung up on doctrine or moralsÃ¢ÂÂitÃ¢ÂÂs all about love and not leaving a big carbon footprint!Ã¢ÂÂ Whatever this is, it isnÃ¢ÂÂt exactly a life-enriching, soul-stirring faith. It bears a disturbing resemblance to the watery faith people have when they call themselves Ã¢ÂÂspiritual but not religious.Ã¢ÂÂ
When I read this sort of tripe, I canÃ¢ÂÂt help but wonder: DonÃ¢ÂÂt people realize that Bibles are very inexpensive, and that the time you wasted on this sort of post-Christian drivel could be spent reading through one of the Gospels, say, Matthew or Luke, where you would get a VERY clear idea of what Christians are supposed to think or do. Of course, Jesus wasnÃ¢ÂÂt as entertaining or clever as our post-Christian Ã¢ÂÂspiritualÃ¢ÂÂ authors, since he wasnÃ¢ÂÂt trying to make a buck, and he took his message seriously. That certainly isnÃ¢ÂÂt true of Brian MacLaren.
August 20, 2012
This is not a Christian book.
The Emerging Church is not Christian. It's a 1970 comeback of Eastern Mysticism. This is New Age. Do not be deceived.
May 13, 2011
Garbage! I would not waste my money on this book. It doesn't take too long for one who is grounded in the Word to realize that it is absolute apostasy!
December 20, 2009
Brian McLaren is obviously a person of leadership savvy who is speaking to the concerns of many (especially younger persons)within the church. While I welcome the general concept behind this book's title (highlighting the contributions of various expressions of Christianity), I am concerned by its philosophical sloppiness. Frankly, it is frustrating to hear McLaren and others saying essentially that one can be a child of Descartes and the Enlightenment or adopt a post-foundationalist approach to Christian thought. One wonders why the more nuanced epistemological considerations of thinkers like Robert Audi, William Alston, and David Clark (see his To Know and Love God) seem to be left untouched. In addition to these epistemological questions, I find that McLaren is not particularly good at framing the issues he wishes to discuss. For example, while he does not advocate universalism, it sounds like he (unnecessarily) places in tension the answering of certain soteriological questions and the engagement of the church's mission. Yet, as he says, he intends to be a bit mischievious in his presentation. However, I am not convinced that this is a virtue when discussing such important matters. I recommend this book because it is influencing many people, not because it is particularly compelling.
July 4, 2008