Customer Review

53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comforting book at bedtime or rug from under your feet?, 15 Mar 2010
This review is from: A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith (Hardcover)
I recently went to a conference (Faithworks 360) and heard Brian McLaren talk. While the talk was more concise than the book (obviously) it was just enough to give me a hunger to read more.

I can barely put it down (i'm about halfway through). I don't find reading non-fiction books easy as, with 2 young children, i often only read to go to sleep, yet i've found myself curling up with this book like a good novel. The style of writing is both massively informative and warmly informal, drawing you into a web of hope and challenge.

There are times when it can become a bit 'listy' saying similar things repetitively...but then it is a recognised preaching technique (tell them what you're going to say, say it and say it again) and as i like what he's saying it's not yet got annoying, though i can see how it could do. This same inclination to preach does gloss over huge areas of accademia, but throughout the book this is acknowledged and comprehensive notes at the back give you further scope for reading and exploration.

There's nothing in here, so far, that i haven't felt and explored myself at some time or other. They really are 10 questions i feel compelled to explore and have had niggling at the back of my mind forever...

1. What is the overarching storyline of the Bible?

2. How should the Bible be understood?

3. Is God violent?

4. Who is Jesus and why is he important?

5. What is the Good News?

6. What do we do about the church?

7. Can we find a better way to address the issue of homosexuality?

8. Can we find a better way of viewing the future?

9. How should followers of Jesus relate to people of other religions?

10. How can we translate our quest into action?

Having studied at Bible College for 3 years i know there will be many Christians who will find this book more than challenging and upsetting. For them this will not be a comforting book at bedtime. While i have been labelled both liberal and conservative, depending who i'm talking to, for searching for the reality of God in the midst of difficult questions, others have stuck to what they know and have been taught. Reassuringly, this book does not condemn people for not thinking the same as the author, it encourages continued growth "with the renewing of your mind". McLaren puts reasoned and faithbased arguments to open up the discussion and encourage more debate.

This is not anti-Bible...i've never felt from one author more of a love for the Bible and its reading that i get from reading this. He loves the Bible and just as you love a person, you don't love them in a way you think they 'should' be loved, you love them as they would wish to be loved. He reads the Bible as the Bible demands to be read, not as a legal document with one style of writing but as many styles of writing from a growing, maturing culture in relationship with God.

This is not a book of answers. It is a book of Godly questions to encourage further discussion and enrich, potentially, the global community. Therefore, it is not a history book or a social analysis of where we are today. If it were, i wouldn't have read it and i wouldn't feel stronger and more hopeful in my faith and i am closer to God for that.

I look forward to my nightly read so my trashy novels will just have to wait.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 25 Apr 2011 16:36:51 BDT
Jack Flowers says:
Ir would be intersting to know which god you are closer to now! Why does McLaren sound more like a sceptic than a believer despite his 'love of the bible'? There are many areas where the bible does not lack clarity and propitiation is right there in the Cross but also in Leviticus 16 1-34/Hebrews. The high priest neeeded to go into the Holy of Holies to sprinke the 'blood of another' innocent victim on the mercy seat which was the gold covering of the Ark which contaoined three elements standing for God's provision and man's failure. E.g the rod that buded speaks of Christ's ressurection. This has nothing to do with Constantine at all, Leviticus is much older than that. I have journalled the entire bible in the last three years and it is the best thing I have ever done, I recomend time in the bible to be far more profitable than reading this book! Try it.

Posted on 27 Jul 2011 17:01:17 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Jul 2011 17:03:25 BDT
Maverick says:
Rebecca,

I've no doubt that Brian McClaren is an exceptionally engaging writer. But you have hit the nail on the head by pointing out that he asks questions rather than provides answers. This is the same approach that Rob Bell takes in "Love Wins". These kinds of authors often have a 'liberating' effect on their readers, but sooner or later we need solid answers. Many people feel that if they answered the types of questions they ask, they would be very firmly in the liberal camp.

I'm as sick and tired of the needless tradition and sectarian ways of reading the Bible as you probably are. If you want to try an author who is more solid than McClaren, and yet still liberating, try Gregory Boyd. (I don't agree with everything he writes, but always find him thought-provoking.)

Every blessing.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Oct 2011 16:04:44 BDT
Andrew Fair says:
Yes Greg Boyd is excellent; in fact the approach of open Theism is very liberating. I think asking questions is good and perhaps McLaren and Rob Bell (both excellent) are targetting what would appear to be a largely closed North American Evangelical mindset. I have enjoyed reading McLaren's 'A New Kind of Christian.' BTW Greg Boyd has some interesting articles on his website.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2012 22:29:28 BDT
Being allowed to ask questions is the first liberating step. Then recognizing that the answers we come up with are contingent is the next. Relationship is not about knowledge and answers, it is about exploration and discovery and recognizing how little we know.

Posted on 29 Dec 2012 22:10:40 GMT
walbedo says:
Thanks. I think I read your review over a year ago and got the book. It is one of my favourite books of hope and inspiration. I recently recommended it and said it was both like a comfort blanket from my 'trauma' of past church life and a telescope of real hope.
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