Posts Tagged ‘Emergent’

I would like to consider myself a reasonably avid reader – although I would honestly like to be an even more avid reader if it were not for the Siren’s song that is the Daily Show/Colbert Report duo which ensnares me nightly – that tries to read things that will challenge my ways of thinking so I will continue to grow as a person.  In that pursuit I have read a lot of ministry related books by ministry related authors that a number of others in my circles would probably like declared anathema.  Fitting squarely into that category are the many works I have read, owned, and loved by Brian McLaren.  While I served on the Board for Faith and Life for the Mennonite Brethren Conference of Saskatchewan I received at least a few requests for his books to be banned from our church libraries altogether – requests which I was quite firmly against.

I can not say that I have read everything that he has written, but I’ve read at least seven or eight different books he has penned in his writing career and have been challenged and pushed to be better by all of them.  I deeply appreciate his heart for bringing Christianity to the world we now live in and attempting to frame it in terms that are meaningful and bring the God’s story to a world that needs him deeply.  I will not question or try to besmirch the man’s character or intentions for a moment.  I think he is truly doing and teaching what he believes to be true and right.  For years I have enjoyed being challenged by his often purposely ambiguous forays into questioning commonly and traditionally held views of the Christian faith.  I have spent hours and hours defending his work and assertions with friends and strangers, and that makes this all the more difficult because his new book A New Kind of Christianity has broken and is breaking my heart.

Many of his previous books were notorious for their ambiguity on a number of subjects, many of the most popular of his works being written in a kind of pseudo-fictional style allowing him to broach subjects thought untouchable without coming out and directly asserting anything.  This was great for starting discussions – which I believe was his real aim – but was not as great for helping people to clearly understand what he was actually trying to get at at times.  A New Kind of Christianity is an attempt to get past the murkiness and state exactly what he thinks the real discussions need to center around as the faith moves forward.  I will not try to get to everything that I have real concerns and heartaches over to this point as they would be far too numerous to get to here (I’m actually keeping them in a file that I plan on mailing to him in a letter once I’ve finished the book completely.) so I will suffice it to say that he has succeeded in confirming a number the worst case scenarios of his version of Christianity that I had maybe naively denying would be the case.  Whether it is his view of the nature of God, Jesus, Scripture, or even the over arching narrative of God’s story as a whole many of my biggest concerns have been confirmed instead of laid to rest.  If you want to discuss things more in depth, read the book and we will get together a book club of sorts.

Brian,

I want to love you as a brother in Christ, but the version of the faith you are espousing in this book is looking less and less like a faith I can accept as being faithful to Jesus or the story of God I believe is revealed in Scripture through the Holy Spirit by the page and chapter.  I promise I will write you to let you know everything I am struggling with, and I will still listen to you into the future, but your version of Christianity is look less and less like a viable answer to the problems our faith faces in this world.  I love your heart for people, ministry, mission and desire for truth, but the God you seem to be following is looking less and less like the one I do or could follow.

Sadly yours,

Ben

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The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why

The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why by Phyllis Tickle


My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Whether you like Emerging/Emergent church stuff this book makes a very clear case exactly where it has come from historically, theologically, and sociologically. It makes a very clear and fairly fact based argument that we shouldn’t be surprised by the rise of emerging/Emergent Christianity and shouldn’t expect it to just go away. Well worth the read if for no other reason than to see where we’ve come from as a church, where we are, and where we might be heading to.

View all my reviews.