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A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey

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A Leadership Network Publication A New Kind of Christian's conversation between a pastor and his daughter's high school science teacher reveals that wisdom for life's most pressing spiritual questions can come from the most unlikely sources. This stirring fable captures a new spirit of Christianity--where personal, daily interaction with God is more important than institut A Leadership Network Publication A New Kind of Christian's conversation between a pastor and his daughter's high school science teacher reveals that wisdom for life's most pressing spiritual questions can come from the most unlikely sources. This stirring fable captures a new spirit of Christianity--where personal, daily interaction with God is more important than institutional church structures, where faith is more about a way of life than a system of belief, where being authentically good is more important than being doctrinally "right," and where one's direction is more important than one's present location. Brian McLaren's delightful account offers a wise and wondrous approach for revitalizing Christian spiritual life and Christian congregations. If you are interested in joining a discussion group devoted to a A New Kind of Christian please visit groups.yahoo.com/group/NKOC.


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A Leadership Network Publication A New Kind of Christian's conversation between a pastor and his daughter's high school science teacher reveals that wisdom for life's most pressing spiritual questions can come from the most unlikely sources. This stirring fable captures a new spirit of Christianity--where personal, daily interaction with God is more important than institut A Leadership Network Publication A New Kind of Christian's conversation between a pastor and his daughter's high school science teacher reveals that wisdom for life's most pressing spiritual questions can come from the most unlikely sources. This stirring fable captures a new spirit of Christianity--where personal, daily interaction with God is more important than institutional church structures, where faith is more about a way of life than a system of belief, where being authentically good is more important than being doctrinally "right," and where one's direction is more important than one's present location. Brian McLaren's delightful account offers a wise and wondrous approach for revitalizing Christian spiritual life and Christian congregations. If you are interested in joining a discussion group devoted to a A New Kind of Christian please visit groups.yahoo.com/group/NKOC.

30 review for A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey

  1. 5 out of 5

    Adam Lauver

    An important (if occasionally corny) book that will be seen as eye-opening and challenging by a lot of people and downright dangerous by others... A little personal background. I first read this book when I was 16 or 17--I'm 24 now--and it was a real eye-opener for me at the time. It was one of a few books I read as a young Christian that taught me that it was okay to have the doubts I was having and still try to lead a life of faith. A lot has happened since then, of course. Starting around age 2 An important (if occasionally corny) book that will be seen as eye-opening and challenging by a lot of people and downright dangerous by others... A little personal background. I first read this book when I was 16 or 17--I'm 24 now--and it was a real eye-opener for me at the time. It was one of a few books I read as a young Christian that taught me that it was okay to have the doubts I was having and still try to lead a life of faith. A lot has happened since then, of course. Starting around age 20 or 21 (it's hard to pin down because so much of one's personal growth is flux and process rather than specific moments), I began being much more of an agnostic, even an atheist at times, than a Christian. Long story short, my philosophical meanderings led me to find comfort in a more materialistic view of reality, and I found myself naturally questioning the existence of the supernatural as something literally outside of nature: the soul, Heaven, Jesus' resurrection, even God--all of these concepts began falling apart, and I just didn't have it in me to fight to keep it all together. (I was always very uncomfortable and suspicious with that "fight" component of faith anyway--that it was a constantly self-preserving structure, a sinking lifeboat trying desperately to patch all of its leaks.) In theory, however, I've remained very open-minded to spirituality in general. I've outgrown materialism in that I think it definitely presents a truncated view of reality, and I really connect with perspectives offered by evolutionary theology and more panentheistic worldviews in particular. But Christianity itself has become gradually more inaccessible for me over the years, and I've grown so divorced from Christian imagery, language, and mythology that I have trouble imagining myself ever going back to it. Having just reread A New Kind of Christian, and from the perspective of someone who has had a lot of doubts over the course of his life so far, McLaren's book really is as beneficial as ever. The fact that it was able to further soften my somewhat hardened opinion of Christianity, and even make being some kind of Christian seem like a viable option again, is a testament to its value. It demonstrates that you don't have to fit this mold or that mold to lead a spiritually rich life, or even to call yourself a Christian (if you want to call yourself a Christian, that is). As traditional supernatural narratives become more and more untenable in light of contemporary attitudes, it's important that seekers of the truth know that there are open-minded, healthy ways to participate in the spiritual life, even in the 21st century. And McLaren offers that in spades. More generally, I think it's incredibly important to challenge people to consider the assumptions and attitudes that might have been inculcated in them by larger cultural forces, such as modernity. Any way you slice it, if you're a person who values getting at the real truth of things, then you have to develop a sense of context. Context is everything, and while McLaren might not provide it in the most academic or rigorous way, he at least manages a decent and informative start. Overall, a potentially life-changing book that has a lot to offer for anyone willing to hear it. I could've done with fewer Amish Jellies references, though.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    Now, I think I probably rated this lower than others, but here's why. 1. this book was probably much more profound when it came out in 2001, unfortunately, i am reading in in 2011. some of his "innovative" new ideas are not so profound anymore. I'm not sure if that from the influence of this book though or from the influence of the various sources that influenced him. 2. he is not a fiction writer. i think he could have done just fine in a non-fiction format, but he tried to make it a fiction inte Now, I think I probably rated this lower than others, but here's why. 1. this book was probably much more profound when it came out in 2001, unfortunately, i am reading in in 2011. some of his "innovative" new ideas are not so profound anymore. I'm not sure if that from the influence of this book though or from the influence of the various sources that influenced him. 2. he is not a fiction writer. i think he could have done just fine in a non-fiction format, but he tried to make it a fiction interaction with lots of dialogue. as a result, his character are cardboard and sometimes respond in clique ways and i know way to much about the weather. I do not care about the weather, and i didn't really care about his characters either. the hero of the story "neo" who is supposed to model the new kind of christian i disliked, especially strongly at the start. i think this is not because of his ideas, but because of the writing style. perhaps i've been reading too many classics recently. 3. he has too many ideas so many aren't developed as deeply as they should be and the result is a kind of overwhelming feeling. but it isn't really worth being read slowly because some of the ideas aren't even that great. so there is a whole sludge of good and bad ideas mixed up together. it's like that in real life too, but i real life you feel it's worth wading through the ideas with a person you care about. 4. the sludge is also a bit overwhelming because some ideas sound good, but when you stop to think about them, they are unfounded, dangerous, not so ideal. depending. for example, the author was talking about how we should view faith and was suggesting a spider web analogy. when questions about it arbitrariness he said "well no more arbitrary than a house analogy." this is unsound logic, saying one thing is not bad because another thing is just as bad sounds like good logic, but isn't. (also in this case the fact jesus uses a house analogy in my opinion makes his spider web one more arbitrary than jesus). But this is one example of many. the most dangerous thread this logic keeps dealing in has to do with the place of the bible and biblical authority. you need to think carefully when reading. I'm also not sure about some of this "post modern society" arguments, i need to think about them more. 5. however, he does have some interesting ideas. interactive seminary. thoughts on why a "saved from hell" salvation pitch is dangerous, letting coming to faith in community over as an isolated choice, pointing out the importance of attitude ("wouldn't i rather be a liberal who really cared about God's will than a good conservative evangelical who was smug in my understanding, who had perhaps stopped "hungering and thirsting for righteousness"? - yes, but another logical fallacy, why do i have to be a liberal to not be smug, and why a conservative evangelical who is smug - i would rather hunger after god and not be smug - and is the opinion quoted a "smug" one? one reason i disliked neo was i sometimes found him very confident and smug although trying not to act it). so all in all, some challenging ideas partially developed, but a lot of bad writing and other partially developed nice sounding dangerous ideas to get through to get it and most of the best ideas have been mentioned now in other better sources. not worth reading unless you are working through it with someone else who really wants to read it or loves it unquestioningly

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jason Lyle

    The best part about this book was the fact that I no longer feel alone. To hear a main line church leader express things that I have thought / felt for years was freeing. Very very good book. Especially for someone questioning all they have been taught from their childhood.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Randy

    Brian Mclaren believes that the church, thoroughly enmeshed as it is in modernism, is becoming increasingly irrelevant to a culture that is moving away from modernism and toward a new paradigm of postmodernism. To be able to speak to a culture that is well underway in making the transition, he argues that the church must also embrace this worldview. The problem is, he never gives us anything close to an adequate description of postmodernism. He doesn't tell us that its main feature is the repudi Brian Mclaren believes that the church, thoroughly enmeshed as it is in modernism, is becoming increasingly irrelevant to a culture that is moving away from modernism and toward a new paradigm of postmodernism. To be able to speak to a culture that is well underway in making the transition, he argues that the church must also embrace this worldview. The problem is, he never gives us anything close to an adequate description of postmodernism. He doesn't tell us that its main feature is the repudiation of truth, the common-sense notion that we have access to a mind-independent reality "out there"; rather, we create our own model of reality by our use of language. We are stuck in a bubble, the walls of which are mirrors that reflect only ourselves. There is no truth in the sense of correspondence with reality; there is only "truth" in the sense of coherence between the ideas in our story. Thus there can be no conflict between the "truths" of one community and those of another. Christians have their story, Muslims have their own story, and so on for every conceivable group. Each is "true" insofar as it is true to itself. Postmodernism, then, has no use for the idea of "metanarrative", a story which claims to actually be in contact with reality and thus is true for all peoples in all times. This is, of course, a perfect description of pluralism. A second, related feature of postmodernism is that there is no singular, correct meaning in a text established by the intent of the author. Instead, there are as many meanings in a text as there are communities, be they Marxist, feminist, Southern Baptist, or any other group, ad infinitim. To say that one interpretation is correct is oppressive, because what's at play here is power, not truth. Now, it is critical to realize that notions of truth and knowledge are not features of modernism. For almost two thousand years prior to the modern era, people took for granted ideas that postmodernism would have us jettison. These would include the idea that there is a mind-independent world, the basic reliability of our senses and reasoning capacities to obtain truth about that world, and also that God could reveal his Word to all peoples through the pages of the Bible. Though we might disagree among ourselves, it was thought that there was a singular meaning to the text and that it was reasonable for us to put our best efforts in disputation and exegesis in order to discover that meaning. Thus Mclaren would have us repudiate not only modernist thinking, but premodernist and ancient thinking. This would cut the legs out from under Christianity. For two thousand years, and not just since the modern era, Christianity has understood itself as proclaiming a metanarrative, a singular gospel of salvation through one Saviour. Mclaren plays his cards close to his chest on the issue of religious pluralism, perhaps anticipating resistance if he too quickly endorses it. But he does seem to reveal this postmodern commitment in a few places. In one place a character declares that Christianity doesn't own God, and that God is at work in the lives of non-Christians as well as Christians. That second statement is ambiguous: Christians have always affirmed that God works in the hearts of non-Christians in order to bring them to saving faith. But I get the feeling that this is not what is meant; in light of the odd statement that "Christianity doesn't own God" I think what is being communicated is that other religions are just as valid as Christianity in bringing people to God. My hunch is confirmed in the endnotes where Mclaren credits someone "for his insight that pluralism (recognizing the world's many diverse religions) means seeing the world more the way God has always seen it." Truth (correspondence between a thought and the way the world really is) and knowledge (justified true belief) have no place in postmodernism because they presuppose access to the world. Mclaren doesn't openly denounce these but he does seem to downplay them in a way that is consistent with postmodern denial. For instance, he declares that the theological distinctions between evangelical and liberal, Calvinist and Arminian, and Protestant and Catholic, are modernist notions and thus to be dispensed with in the postmodern era: "Modern Protestant seminaries are still fighting the battles of yesterday, like the Protestant Reformation and the liberal-fundamentalist debates. Somebody tell them those wars are over". He doesn't appeal to the Bible, he just waves his hand in dismissal. It seems to me that he views these "warring" theological camps as different communities, who because of their distinctive use of language, construct their own truths so there's no way to adjudicate between them. Indeed, he says that since the time of Christ there have been "twenty centuries of Christian universes". I am not defending modernism, regardless of whether or not the case against it might be overstated. Its enthronement of reason, its banishment of God and establishment of a religious belief/knowledge dualism, its consumerism, radical individualism, and the inauthenticity and hypocrisy that can result - these are all valid critiques that contemporary Christians need to face squarely. But if there is a sense in which the contemporary church is like a sick patient, embracing postmodernism would be a treatment that actually kills the patient. Efforts to contextualize the gospel to a changing culture must not result in changing the gospel itself. The bottom line that illustrates the danger is this: Does Christianity give us an accurate picture of the way the world really is, and can we know it to be so? Is truth correspondence? Or does Christianity just tell us a story? We ought to learn from the example of the first-century church, which was almost destroyed by absorbing the worldview (gnosticism) of the surrounding culture. In our case, Ravi Zacharias warns that postmodern pluralism and denial of knowledge is going to "produce a generation of people who will not be able to handle the challenge of Islam and other major world religions." When doctrine is dismissed as "too dogmatic" we lose the ability to distinguish between the real thing and a counterfeit. To conclude, in the words of Greg Koukl, "There is no virtue in this view, only danger. If you are convinced there is no truth, there is nothing to protect you from being destroyed by lies; there are lies, and they do destroy. Truth and knowledge are essential to Christianity. Postmodernism denies truth and knowledge, therefore postmodernism is a philosophy that is not in accordance to Christ. It is a philosophy we should not only defend against but we should be tearing down."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mack Hayden

    While corny at times, I did enjoy this fictionalized dialogue between a struggling evangelical pastor and a more postmodern, openminded Christian. I'd been meaning to read this since my own evangelical days and, while it hasn't brought me back to the fold of Christianity at all, it's refreshing to see a depiction—even an imaginary one—where two people benefit from each other's opposing viewpoints with the shared goal of ensuring their religious beliefs line up with both truth as they can see it While corny at times, I did enjoy this fictionalized dialogue between a struggling evangelical pastor and a more postmodern, openminded Christian. I'd been meaning to read this since my own evangelical days and, while it hasn't brought me back to the fold of Christianity at all, it's refreshing to see a depiction—even an imaginary one—where two people benefit from each other's opposing viewpoints with the shared goal of ensuring their religious beliefs line up with both truth as they can see it and the world's needs. The more conversations like that, the better.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Sigrist

    Postmodern Christianity. This is all a bit new and uneasy for me. It will take more reading and more thought for me to form a reasonable, defend-able position about it. That said, much of what Neo and Dan talk about makes sense. - Instead of us reading the Bible, letting the Bible read us. Leaving aggressive analysis behind and "trusting God to use it to pose questions to us about us." - Seeing the Bible as a contextual document. - Modernity as an era defined by certain characteristics: Conquest a Postmodern Christianity. This is all a bit new and uneasy for me. It will take more reading and more thought for me to form a reasonable, defend-able position about it. That said, much of what Neo and Dan talk about makes sense. - Instead of us reading the Bible, letting the Bible read us. Leaving aggressive analysis behind and "trusting God to use it to pose questions to us about us." - Seeing the Bible as a contextual document. - Modernity as an era defined by certain characteristics: Conquest and Control, Machine/Mechanization, Analysis, Secular Science, Absolute Objectivity, Critical Age (knowing absolute truth), Modern Nation-State/Organization, Individualism, Protestantism/Institutional Religion, Consumerism - The Bible never refers to itself as a foundation. The only time foundation is used is "the church is the foundation of the truth, and ... Jesus is the foundation of the church ... and when Jesus told Peter he was the foundation" (p. 76) - "What about the other guys?" The C.S. Lewis story of the soldier who has served a false god "Tash" all his life, being confronted by Aslan. "Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek." (p. 132) - Also on that same topic, that we ought not be concerned about the judgement of others... but that of ourselves. At any rate, this line of thinking seems focused on conversations rather than conversion and community with the world rather than exclusivity. There is a lot to chew on, but it does feel like genuine seeking of the truth. In one of Dan's journal entries he says: "I feel that I may be falling away from my faith. But then again, if I hold back from honestly pursuing the truth, wouldn't that be pulling away from you - even worse?If I let go of or loosen my grip on some things I've never before doubted, will I fall away from you? Or could I actually find myself falling into you?" He goes on to pray: "Guide me, please, Holy Spirit. Jesus said you would guide us into all truth."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Teri

    I'm in the minority with my thoughts on this book as related to those people I read the book with and participated in many discussions with. But, that's part of what I think this book intends: discussion with no commitment to resolution for fear of offending or excluding those who don't share our exact beliefs. The redeeming quality of this book is that it presents ideas worth considering when thinking outside the box of Christian faith. How we worship, is it okay to think outside of what we're I'm in the minority with my thoughts on this book as related to those people I read the book with and participated in many discussions with. But, that's part of what I think this book intends: discussion with no commitment to resolution for fear of offending or excluding those who don't share our exact beliefs. The redeeming quality of this book is that it presents ideas worth considering when thinking outside the box of Christian faith. How we worship, is it okay to think outside of what we're taught in church, how we restrict ourselves but putting God in a religious box. However, some of the ideas are far-fetched and can lead unsuspecting souls down a dangerous path of "everything's ok if you can rationalize it." I like that the book made me think. I read it several years ago as part of a discussion group at my church and it opened up many lively discussions and brought our group closer together in terms of being open in sharing how and what we believe in a religious world of black & white that doesn't allow much room for gray. But, the story is ridiculous. I hated the characters. The journey is poorly presented. And overall, I really hated this book. I can see it doing more harm than good in a true discovery of faith where someone is looking for answers.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paul Dubuc

    This book is a welcome invitation for modern evangelical and fundamentalist Christians to positively re-think what it means to be a Christian in our time. Trust God and drop your guard when you read it. It won't make a 'liberal' out of you. The more liberal side of Christianity comes in for some good criticism in the book, but I don't think the book is written for them and I doubt they will be helped much by it. One doesn't have to accept all the ideas this book offers to see that many of them r This book is a welcome invitation for modern evangelical and fundamentalist Christians to positively re-think what it means to be a Christian in our time. Trust God and drop your guard when you read it. It won't make a 'liberal' out of you. The more liberal side of Christianity comes in for some good criticism in the book, but I don't think the book is written for them and I doubt they will be helped much by it. One doesn't have to accept all the ideas this book offers to see that many of them ring true and may represent a call from God to be a "new kind of Christian". Not so new really, but perhaps more focused on the timeless things that Jesus did and taught which matter more than the trappings of modern day Christianity that can hinder the Gospel. I suspect that many Christians will find reading this book a very liberating experience. Perhaps they have been thinking along these lines already and the book provides some validation for their views. Be careful. Resist the temptation to gloat. If this liberating experience is from God, its intended to lead to a more authentic practical faith-a transformation of your whole life-not simply a new set of 'superior' beliefs. "... truth means more than factual accuracy. It means being in sync with God."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Joey

    This book functions as a Socratic dialogue regarding how our faith could look in a postmodern context. The book tackled a lot of questions that I found most Christians I know would not want to tackle, which is why I respect it. The topics conversed over a lot of Christian subjects that I have been wrestling with over the years. The book didn't solve all of my "problems" or questions, but at least I was able to read something that addressed the questions with humility and fairness. I only gave it This book functions as a Socratic dialogue regarding how our faith could look in a postmodern context. The book tackled a lot of questions that I found most Christians I know would not want to tackle, which is why I respect it. The topics conversed over a lot of Christian subjects that I have been wrestling with over the years. The book didn't solve all of my "problems" or questions, but at least I was able to read something that addressed the questions with humility and fairness. I only gave it four stars though because a lot of the story, although it served a purpose, felt like filler. I guess I just wanted the meat of the dialogue rather than a cheesy story. Plus, The Shack-like writing style did not help its rating either. WARNING - I would not read this book if your content with your faith walk as it is. Or, maybe I should recommend it if you are content in your beliefs. Well, if you do choose to read it, enjoy and beware.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lara

    I realize that I'm kind of in the minority here, but yeah, I HATED this book. I had a really hard time getting through it, simply because I thought it so poorly written, and I didn't really find any of the ideas all that new or interesting (although I did find some of them disturbing). I understand that a lot of people really connected with it, and, in fact, the reason my husband and I read it in the first place is because people in the new church we were going to thought so highly of it. But, s I realize that I'm kind of in the minority here, but yeah, I HATED this book. I had a really hard time getting through it, simply because I thought it so poorly written, and I didn't really find any of the ideas all that new or interesting (although I did find some of them disturbing). I understand that a lot of people really connected with it, and, in fact, the reason my husband and I read it in the first place is because people in the new church we were going to thought so highly of it. But, seriously? I've had NIGHTMARES about Brian McLaren from reading this thing. I've heard that he's a really great speaker, and that his non-fiction books and essays are amazing; I wish he'd just stick to that. In any case, I feel like reading this book has closed my mind to anything he might have to say--there's just no way I can take the man seriously after this.

  11. 5 out of 5

    David

    Fantastic perspective of Christianity from one of the foremost leaders of Post-Modern Christianity. Several of McLaren's conclusions are revolutionary and will appear, to many, heretical. Nevertheless, in an age of condemnation and the depreciation of brotherly love among Christians as a whole, I find McLaren to be both refreshing and honest. I recommend this book to anyone interested in reviewing their own Christianity.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    This book was my "red pill". I've never been able to look at Christianity the same way after reading this book. The second one was even crazier and I had to put it up for a while, because it was rocking my world way too much. If you are brave, and not afraid for your beliefs to be challenged, examined, tested, then you have GOT to read this book. If not, take the blue pill and pretend nothing ever happened!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Kramer

    An author that explores Christianity outside of the box. After reading this in college, I finally felt ready to take back my abandoned faith and wrestle with God a bit. It was refreshing to see that there were others out there like me who didn't quite fit into the conservative church we had grown up in.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Micah McCarty

    I was just telling a friend about this earlier this week. It was about twelve years ago that I read it but it was a crucial book for me at that time. It liberated me from the fundamentalism of my youth. I don't know how it holds up over time but I will always hold it dear for what it did for me when I read it back then.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tania Leis

    Challenging read--not necessarily challenging to understand but a challenge to think through! In many ways I think it isn't so much "new" thinking but a call to return to an authentic following of Jesus... Inspires further thought, study, contemplation....

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dave Miller

    I've read the whole trilogy. If you are open to questions about Christianity, or you've figured out that your parents religion isn't working for you, these are grea reads and very thought provoking.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Calvin Wulf

    Stimulating primmer to the influence of post-modernism on modern Christianity.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I read a few reviews of this book and decided not to read or buy it, but a friend loaned me her book and suggested I read it, and so I did. Bottom line, I recommend this book for anyone who is tired of simplistic Christian formulas and longs for genuine faith in God, girded with love for God and the people of the world. The ideas are complex, but I think they are accessible and worth considering. The end gets long, but maybe I just need more sleep. I think most of the reviewers evaluated the boo I read a few reviews of this book and decided not to read or buy it, but a friend loaned me her book and suggested I read it, and so I did. Bottom line, I recommend this book for anyone who is tired of simplistic Christian formulas and longs for genuine faith in God, girded with love for God and the people of the world. The ideas are complex, but I think they are accessible and worth considering. The end gets long, but maybe I just need more sleep. I think most of the reviewers evaluated the book on the basis of how much they agreed with McLaren rather than on the strength of the writing, and I suppose that's to be expected. A few more reviewers said the book was dated, and yes, to some degree it really is. And yet, on the other hand, his ideas about modernity and postmodernity and Christianity would have been fairly radical back in 2001 when it was published, when many evangelical Christians described postmodernism as a huge threat to the nation and to religious convictions, and now, I think many Christians are less shocked by the ideas he presents, so his book may actually be more effective. And I am ranting without giving context, on two cups of coffee, an empty stomach, and not enough sleep due to incessant coughing. The book is fiction, and yet, it is based on his own faith journey toward becoming what he describes as "a new kind of Christian." In the story, the protagonist, Dan, a pastor considering leaving the ministry, has a series of conversations with Neo, a school teacher, former pastor, devout Christian who explores the effect of modernity (a way of thinking which began in the 1500's and which is, to some degree, waning in our current time). With modernity, there are quick easy answers to everything, and yet, most things are not that simplistic. Dan is tired and recognizes that the quick easy answers seem less and less "real." He isn't just questioning his calling; he is questioning his faith. Neo challenges him to think through faith based in modernity and its ways of viewing the world. I remember the fear-mongering about postmodernism in the late 90s and early 2000s, along with its relativism. When I finally started learning more about it a few years later, I wondered what the problem was. In grad school I did a research paper focused on postmodernism in sermons. Today, 10 years after that paper and 18 years after the book was published, we don't hear a lot about postmodernism. That doesn't mean it's gone but perhaps that some of the new ways of thinking are more mainstream.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Janhmmn

    When I first read this book to myself a few years ago, it and its sequels opened my eyes to a new way of believing. In the intervening years I have travelled further along that path and I now find myself with a much more comfortable and inclusive faith based on the love and acceptance that I see in the Jesus of the New Testament and on the subversive God of justice that underlies the whole of the Bible. This book is written as a fictionalised account of a growing relationship between a worn-down When I first read this book to myself a few years ago, it and its sequels opened my eyes to a new way of believing. In the intervening years I have travelled further along that path and I now find myself with a much more comfortable and inclusive faith based on the love and acceptance that I see in the Jesus of the New Testament and on the subversive God of justice that underlies the whole of the Bible. This book is written as a fictionalised account of a growing relationship between a worn-down pastor who's not sure about his faith and a science teacher at his daughter's school who has been a Christian minister in the past and introduces the pastor to a new framework for believing and living. I want my children to have a faith in Jesus which sustains and guides them, one which is inclusive and welcoming and in which they can feel included and welcomed. So I'm reading the trilogy aloud to C and M to help them see more of the possibilities of faith. There's a lot early in the book about postmodernism and the effect that has had on society and on the church, which was quite tough going at first, but also useful in a wider context to help us all understand about the world we live in.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ben Vore

    Parables of the inspirational/leadership ilk rank as about my least favorite form of literature, so when I picked this up and discovered it was, in fact, a parable, I was wary. McLaren gives fair warning in the intro: “Things will go much better for both of us if you consider this more in the category of a philosophical dialogue than a novel.” So, setting aside my qualms about this particular genre (as well as some of the dated references here — Palm Pilots are in vogue, as are sentences like, “ Parables of the inspirational/leadership ilk rank as about my least favorite form of literature, so when I picked this up and discovered it was, in fact, a parable, I was wary. McLaren gives fair warning in the intro: “Things will go much better for both of us if you consider this more in the category of a philosophical dialogue than a novel.” So, setting aside my qualms about this particular genre (as well as some of the dated references here — Palm Pilots are in vogue, as are sentences like, “He had all the details worked out — we’d find each other by using cell phones”), and approaching A New Kind of Christian as McLaren intended — as “a philosophical dialogue” — I found it thought-provoking and perceptive, if not as radical as it might have been 20 years ago. As someone who also did church ministry and felt many of the same tensions and frustrations as the pastor in this book (and as someone who has since became a high school teacher, like the other major character), I found it well worth the read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dan Mayhew

    OK, I gotta be honest here. I don't remember reading this book. That should probably tell you something about it. Either I never got around to reading it (it is in my library) or I started it and never finished, or I read it, liked some stuff and then forgot about it. It may have been the second option since, I have to admit, I'm not a McLaren fan. I'm too theologically conservative to be totally comfortable with his point of view. Anyhow, I'm going to leave it on my list so it won't appear that OK, I gotta be honest here. I don't remember reading this book. That should probably tell you something about it. Either I never got around to reading it (it is in my library) or I started it and never finished, or I read it, liked some stuff and then forgot about it. It may have been the second option since, I have to admit, I'm not a McLaren fan. I'm too theologically conservative to be totally comfortable with his point of view. Anyhow, I'm going to leave it on my list so it won't appear that I'm hiding anything, but, doggone it, I really don't remember reading it. I'm going to leave it "read" but mark it "stopped reading" and "maybe later." I did clear the original rating because, like I said, I either haven't read it or it was forgettable.

  22. 5 out of 5

    J. R.

    This is both interesting and well-written, a good introduction to one approach to the emergence of a new sort of Christian faith. It is sensitive, if a bit unkind to those still persuaded by a traditional paradigm. However, without going into a full critique of modernism from a post-modern standpoint (already done by other writers), it provides a good idea of how a new Christian fellowship might emerge. One deficiency that I believe the vision has is that it still accepts a basically passive "se This is both interesting and well-written, a good introduction to one approach to the emergence of a new sort of Christian faith. It is sensitive, if a bit unkind to those still persuaded by a traditional paradigm. However, without going into a full critique of modernism from a post-modern standpoint (already done by other writers), it provides a good idea of how a new Christian fellowship might emerge. One deficiency that I believe the vision has is that it still accepts a basically passive "service" during gathering times, where worship is managed by a professional elite. I would love to see the incorporation of some ideas and critique from Frank Viola, as well as Bart Tarman, Conrad Gempf, Carl Medearis, and others.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    I first was recommended this book when hearing a talk by Rob Bell where he talked about how A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey effected his spiritual journey so I figured taking a walk down this path would at least be an interesting read. As a start I spent most of my 20's as a student of Youth Ministry at and I can't tell you how many books I was assigned on ministering to the Post-Modern culture. Each book described post-modernism as a dangerous and post-Chri I first was recommended this book when hearing a talk by Rob Bell where he talked about how A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey effected his spiritual journey so I figured taking a walk down this path would at least be an interesting read. As a start I spent most of my 20's as a student of Youth Ministry at and I can't tell you how many books I was assigned on ministering to the Post-Modern culture. Each book described post-modernism as a dangerous and post-Christian. In other words I spent most of my time learning about how postmodernism was evil and how we need to fight against it. Honestly, after reading 2 of these books I stopped reading them because they all said the same thing. In contrast A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey , which was released around the same time that I was studying how to fight post-modernism, re-frames post-modernism as a cultural response to the negative parts of modern culture. Given that modern evangelical Christianity is so heavily intertwined with the modern culture, it makes sense that the present church would react to treat post-modern as post-christian. I was raised in the modern church but I was born at the edge of post-modern culture. Thoughts that are discussed in this book are dialogues that are needed for the church to continue to be effective. I will be honestly, it is scary to first step out and think apart from what the text books and traditions tell you. But it was also scary for Martin Luther to stand against the mid evil church, however that launched a new concept of what it means to follow Christ.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Christy Baker

    Told primarily thru a fictional story, but with an introductory section as nonfiction to frame the ideas, this was an examination of Christianity and ways to move Christian theology forward (post-modern) rather than keeping stuck to ideas from the past. Despite attempts at being inclusive across all of Christianity, it is very much skewed towards either evangelical or more mainstream if slightly conservative Protestantism. Whether because of when the book was written or simply because I already Told primarily thru a fictional story, but with an introductory section as nonfiction to frame the ideas, this was an examination of Christianity and ways to move Christian theology forward (post-modern) rather than keeping stuck to ideas from the past. Despite attempts at being inclusive across all of Christianity, it is very much skewed towards either evangelical or more mainstream if slightly conservative Protestantism. Whether because of when the book was written or simply because I already hold more liberal theological ideas, I found this interesting, but not particularly original.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lee Tracy

    This book is an easy listen, and I felt it was worth it for the introduction to McLaren's thinking, although I only went with this one because it was the one available from the library. It has a very dated, late 90s feel, which I guess is always what happens when you try to sound relevant and up-to-date, and yes, it's cheesy.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ben Adkison

    A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren Let me start by saying that I hesitate to even write a review of this book because there stands a chance that even posting a picture of this book on my blog might lead someone to think that I am endorsing Brian McLaren. I am not endorsing Brian McLaren or this book!!! However, I do understand the necessity to stretch myself, and think differently, and read widely from different people. So I read this book to do those things, and also to help keep myself ab A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren Let me start by saying that I hesitate to even write a review of this book because there stands a chance that even posting a picture of this book on my blog might lead someone to think that I am endorsing Brian McLaren. I am not endorsing Brian McLaren or this book!!! However, I do understand the necessity to stretch myself, and think differently, and read widely from different people. So I read this book to do those things, and also to help keep myself abreast of modern, popular, Christian books. I've heard and known for quite some time that McLaren's beliefs and teachings were sketchy, but I was unaware of how sketchy until I trekked though A New Kind of Christian. Simply put, many of the beliefs that McLaren espouses in this book are outside of what can be called Christian orthodoxy. I believe that the Bible is intentionally grey on some issues, leaving us room to discuss and debate and seek the leading of the Holy Spirit, but much of the Bible is straight forward. To deny a clear teaching of the Bible is sin and dangerous, and to change the Gospel message is damnable according to Paul in Galatians 1. Without a clear system of belief in place, Christianity is nothing more than a social club, and Christians are above all to be a pitied people. I'm afraid that in McLaren's attempt (and I don't doubt that it is an earnest attempt) to understand Christianity better, he has perhaps gotten more confused. In A New Kind of Christian, McLaren denies or calls into question several key tenants of the faith. For example: 1) the existence of hell and punishment of unbelievers ,2) the necessity of faith in Christ, 3) the meaning of Christ's death, 4) the universality of truth, and 5) the authority of the Bible. This poses a problem if you believe the Bible. A second problem I have with this book is its understanding of the categories "modern" and "postmodern." The good ideas (and there are quite a few) that are put forward about Christianity in A New Kind of Christian are labeled new, and original, and postmodern, but I find many of them quite old. The characters in this book categorize Christian thinking and practice into the categories of "modern" and "postmodern." Any representation of Christianity that seems shortsighted is always put into the "modern" category, while better representations of Christianity are always labeled "postmodern." The problem is that much of what is considered postmodern, is in reality what many faithful churches have been practicing all along. Perhaps the issue is not "modern" versus "postmodern", but "paying attention to the Bible" versus "ignoring the Bible." Another third problem I have with this book is that it is an overreaction to some of "issues" in the modern church. A New Kind of Christian is a book about a fictional pastor who misunderstands the Gospel, who is burned out, and who is coming to terms with the fact that his faith is screwed-up and rather weak. He realizes that a lot of what has been labeled Christianity in his upbringing is wrong. However, in his attempt to reform his previously misguided faith, he simply takes the opposite opinion on most everything. This is all done through a seemingly authentic and academic discussion, that purports to take the Bible more seriously, but perhaps takes the Bible even less seriously. A New Kind of Christian proposes a kind of thinking that is relativistic and anti-logical. Thinking of this sort cannot logically claim any truth whatsoever. While much of the Bible literature is poetic, historical, apocalyptic, etc., much of it is also carefully arranged and logical. McLaren may want to deny a foundational / logical approach to the Christian faith, but in denying all forms of concrete thought, he necessarily has to deny many of the writings of the Apostle Paul (who did write concretely and logically). And...logically speaking, McLaren's arguments about a non-concrete approach to the Bible are in fact concrete arguments themselves, and thus his arguments are in that regard self-defeating. All of this to say that you probably shouldn't read A New Kind of Christian except as an academic exercise to better understand the thinking of the emergent, liberal left. If you want to understand how to be more Biblical, read and study the Bible. McLaren adds more confusion than clarity. I'm not saying that Brian McLaren is an idiot, or that I hate him, or anything like that (in fact I'd jump at the chance to sit down and discuss faith with him); however, I am saying that according to the Bible he would be considered a "false prophet" in regards to the Gospel. While much of what McLaren says is good, and interesting, and thought provoking, too much of what he says is also a direct dismissal of the teachings of the Bible. Unfortunately his influence amongst certain sectors of Christianity is large, and this poses a threat to the proper understanding of the Gospel. A Gospel which Jude said we should defend (Jude 3). Ultimately that is why I have taken the time to write this brief review. I'm not trying to start arguments, but rather to defend the "faith which was once for all handed down to the saints."

  27. 4 out of 5

    Steve Allison

    I read this right around my 53rd birthday and it had a great effect on me. It started me down the path of investigating postmodern and emergent Christianity. It was what I'd been looking for since my early twenties when I began having questions for which I could not find answers.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Anita

    I liked most of what he said, but it I did not like it as a fictional story. It really dragged as a novel. In fact, I did not feel it really was a novel. It was more a slow revealing of a new way of looking at Christianity. The low rating is not for what it says, but for how it is presented.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ian DesJardins

    A simple yet important book for those seeking what the state of the current church could look like, or even Christianity as a whole. I like Brian's approach and how he told this story, as it is probably many others story's as well. A fun read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michael Goldstein

    Two word review: Straw Man.

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