A New Kind of Christian — Book Review

When I started this blog I really thought I was going to keep it up…. I really wanted to, but unfortunately I never really want to write in it. So I am going to force myself every now and then.

A New Kind Of ChristianI just finished Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian. I have been doing some research on the emergent church so when I saw this at my public library I decided to pick it up (along with John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life — which is much less depressing to read!).

McLaren’s book is written as a novel consisting mostly of conversations between an unsettled pastor named Daniel Pool (representative of Mclaren I believe) and a public-school teacher, ex-pastor, named Leo. In essence it is an effort to proselytize the biblically ignorant into his ’emergent’ sect of Christianity. I really don’t hesitate to call it a cult–the title itself suggests it; “A New Kind of Christian.” When you create a new kind of christian which leaves out, or redefines everything that is meant by the word “Christian” it can really no longer be called Christian. Dan says at one point,

“I can think of a hundred preachers who would think it sounds like a whole different religion from what they preach. And maybe they’re right” (132).

And Like all cults who claim to follow Jesus, it undermines the Word of God–and unashamedly in the case of this book! In the chapter “Hot Words About Biblical Interpretation” Neo says this,

“Relax, Dan, I’m only saying what the Bible says. That oft-quoted passage in Second Timothy doesn’t say ‘All Scripture is inspired by God and is authoritative.’It says that Scripture is inspired and useful–useful to teach, rebuke, correct, instruct us to live justly, and equip us for our mission as the people of God” (Emphasis in the original) (52).

This is such a scary quote! First of all the passage says that the Word is profitable for “teaching, reproof, for correction, and training…” so I would ask ‘if you have a teacher, who is allowed to rebuke you, to correct you when you are wrong, and to train you, would not that person be considered an authority?’ Secondly, and most importantly, how low does your view of God have to be to say that the Words (graphe) that He breaths out are not an authority over you? This is really the core of all emergent heresy.

The overarching idea that drives the whole book is the idea that evangelical and fundamental Christianity is so immersed in a modern (as in modernity) interpretation of the Bible that we don’t really have any idea what the authors were really trying to say. We have thick glasses of modernity on which effect and distort everything we see/read to a modern mindset. This is not altogether false of course; we all have some sort of cultural ‘glasses’ which effect the way we interpret; getting past this is the goal of the “historical” in historical/gramatical interpretation. For some reason McLaren believes that postmoderns have a better idea of how the Bible is to be interpreted even though postmoderns are even further removed from pre-modernity than moderns. Postmoderns seem to believe that they are the first people to figure out how to remove the glasses completely…. but I believe they may have a thicker pair than even moderns.

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