Monday, January 02, 2006

Book Review: A New Kind of Christian

I just finished reading this book by Brian McLaren. I picked this book because it was the only one of his my library had the day I went. I wanted to do some reading on what the Emergent movement thinks and believes concerning different aspects of Christianity. I honestly picked up the book expecting to disagree with a lot of it. And yet as I began the book I was caught off guard. Yes, there were obviously somethings I didn't agree with, but they didn't scream unscriptural, at least not at first.

The book is a loosely based novel that could easily be based largely on the lives of many people. It was easy to understand where the main character was coming from, and I must admit that some of the arguments presented that don't speak well of the church as it is today had a lot of truth in them. Yet it seems the author was dealing with very superficial observations and thus wasn't terribly accurate.

The deeper one gets into the book the more inconsistent with the Bible the character's views of God and the Church become. In more than one point the character that is guiding the main character/ narrator to a new understanding of God basically says you don't need Christ to get to heaven. Funny enough this character's nick name is Neo, the author must have really loved The Matrix!

Also kind of disturbing was the idea put forth that there is no hell, everyone goes to heaven and just some people like living in sin and darkness so much that the love, life, and light of heaven tortures them. Another issue I have with this book is that they seem to imply that doctrine is not important and those of us who believe it is are somehow on a lower level of understanding and wisdom. If you throw doctrine out the window along with the belief that Christ is the only way to heaven, how can you really call yourself a Christian?

I could go on, but it would make this post to long to be an effective book review. I think it was well written, the author has some skill in writing, but there are just too many doctrinal issues for me to feel comfortable recommending this book to anyone.


Call Me Ishmael said...

McLaren's latest book inspired my New Year's resolutions for 2006, which I share at

Rick said...

thanks for the review, one of the few i've read over the past few years that didn't completely demonize mclaren. the doctrinal issues you saw are real and they're there in the novel, and i think that's what the conversations do best: bring this stuff out to be discussed and processed by you as an individual and collectively. too many people have a religion that just regurgitates what they're told, without processing it for themselves. and these are the people that typically fall away from the faith. anyhoo, just wanted to let you know that i appreciated your take :)