Why Brian McLaren?

Over at Scot McKnight’s JesusCreed has been a very lively discussion of Brian McLaren’s latest book – A New Kind of Christianity. Scot has a very critical review of the book at Christianity Today. In it he says “Brian is not only poking evangelicals, he is also calling everything about Christian orthodoxy—from the ecumenical creeds through the Reformation and up to present-day evangelicalism—into question.” And also this

Unfortunately, this book lacks the “generosity” of genuine orthodoxy and, frankly, I find little space in it for orthodoxy itself. Orthodoxy for too many today means little more than the absence of denying what’s in the creeds. But a robust orthodoxy means that orthodoxy itself is the lens through which we see theology. One thing about this book is clear: Orthodoxy is not central.

I read this book carefully, and I found nothing new. It may be new for Brian, but it’s a rehash of ideas that grew into fruition with Adolf von Harnack and now find iterations in folks like Harvey Cox and Marcus Borg. For me, Brian’s new kind of Christianity is quite old. And the problem is that it’s not old enough.

David Fitch also has a very thoughtful and non-judgemental reflection on the clarifying distinctions between the emerging / missional / reformed streams in the USA in light of McLaren’s book.

My questions: why is one man, Brian McLaren, so remarkably able to stir up so many people on such a consistent basis? And is this purely an American thing? How much relevance / influence has the ’emerging church’ conversation in the Irish context? What do you think of what McLaren has been saying?


2 thoughts on “Why Brian McLaren?

  1. McClaren ( i think ) asks questions that most people feel guilty about even conceiving. Lots of people love a revolution, its always a sexy thing, particularly for a pomo generation. McClaren spearheads the movement in a lot of ways.

    Emergencies, sorry, I meant Emergent orthodoxy/praxis will have some bearing on the Irish Church,(not just because its full of Americans) but I think not with the same sway as in the U.S. The Irish context has its own unique issues – which we need more information on. Thus, your comment the other day is brought to light again: we need more surveys and stats for the Church in Ireland.


  2. The issue is not that he asks the questions, that is perfectly valid. It is the fact that he keeps coming up with answers that are deliberately the opposite to what most Christians would believe,eg his views on the cross of Christ and the authority of Scripture.

    I don’t think he speaks for many people in Ireland. As you say, Norman, the issues here are not exactly the same as those in the States. However, it is good for us to be aware of what he is saying so that we can evaluate it.

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