About Jesus Steve Sweetman
ďA New Kind Of ChristianĒ Ė Part 1
McLaren claims to be a post-modern Christian and has written extensively
on the subject. The
following is a review of his 2001 book entitled ďA New Kind Of
ChristianĒ. You may ask,
ďwhatís wrong with the old kind of Christian?Ē
He will explain. You
may not have read this book, but much of what McLaren and others like
him have written is being adopted by many Christians today.
Since I listened to the mp3 version of the book I have no direct
quotes. If you question my
accuracy, youíll need to read the book for yourself.
book is a dialogue between a pastor who calls himself a modern Christian
and a teacher who calls himself a post-modern Christian.
The two men meet at a school event and because of the pastorís
unhappiness with church life, the two find themselves engaged in a
serious discussion about Christians and church.
The rest of the book is a dialogue between these two men that
takes place over a period of several months
resulting in the pastor becoming post-modern.
book is fiction, but is clearly based on personal experience, with a
specific message. Because of
the story line, the reader tends to get caught up in the emotional
impact of the story. For
example, you feel sorry for the pastor who is going through all sorts of
trouble in his church. You
feel good about the warm-hearted post-modern teacher who sincerely cares
for the frustrated pastor. You
feel sad for the teacher when his father dies and he has to quit his job
and move across the country to look after his ailing mother.
In the midst of these emotions, McLarenís message penetrates
your heart but not necessarily your mind, which is a potential problem. Our
emotions can sometimes cloud our good judgment, causing us to accept
something we might not normally accept without thinking about it.
Itís a little like an old-fashioned emotional evangelical altar
emotions run high, you head to the altar, but your decision might not be
a well thought out commitment to Jesus. Such
emotional pleas canít be found in the New Testament.
As a matter of fact Jesus tells us to count the cost before we
decide to follow Him.
another thing I need to say before I discuss the contents of the book.
For the most part Iím a modernist.
Iím very analytical and methodical by nature, therefore I
donít simply accept everything I read or hear without thinking about
it. So this is how I
approached this book. Yet
even though Iím mainly modern in my approach to life and thinking, I
do believe Iím a bit post-modern by nature.
This makes me somewhat sympathetic to both men in the book.
Like these two men, Iíve had similar questions concerning
modern Christianity, but unlike these men, I attempt to find my answers
in a different way.
thing the two men are troubled with is the strong dogmatism found in
what they call, and what I used to call back in the 1970ís,
ďFighting FundiesĒ. Fighting
Fundies is a nickname given to Christian fundamentalists
who are modern in their thinking. They
can be very dogmatic and aggressive in their presentation of their
beliefs. I donít call
myself a fundamentalist in those terms, although in doctrine I probably
am to a large degree. In
terms of dogmatism, Iím more to the post-modern side.
I hold to certain firm convictions as a fundamentalist would, but
I try to be gracious to those who may think differently than me.
Many fundamentalists in the past have not demonstrated such
graciousness, which has turned people off like McLaren.
There may well be a time and place for aggressively fighting for
your position, especially in the world, but with other Christians, I
donít think itís all that effective.
like the men in the book, Iíve struggled with modern Christianity on
some issues. Yet unlike
McLaren and the two men in the book, I take a different route in finding
the answers to our common struggles.
I turn to my critical and analytical approach
to Scripture to find the answers. The
men in the book turn to their post-modern approach to the Bible.
I see the answers in the details of the Bible.
They see the answers, and this is where I find their message
unclear at times, in vague Biblical concepts.
nature of post-modernism in many respects steers clear of precise and
well defined statements. My
modern nature tries to be clear, precise, and detailed in
all I say, so no one will misunderstand me. In
my thinking, this is a downfall of the book.
Sometimes I wondered what McLaren was really saying because he
tended to speak in vague concepts at times. I
had to ask myself, ďis he really saying what I think heís saying?Ē
Actually, the pastor in the book found himself in the same
predicament as me when attempted to understand the post-modern teacher.
One example of this was McLarenís thinking on the next life.
I hesitated to draw any conclusions on this topic because I
didnít want to put words in his mouth.
Yet by the end of the book his position seemed quite clear to me.
Itís probably McLarenís intention to be intentionally vague
at times. Thatís part of
post-modern thinking, especially in its present transitional phase.
the modern Christian, there is lots to think about in this book.
You must read or listen carefully.
You need to try to understand what the author is saying without
jumping to an emotional conclusion which might be the tendency for some.
Such an emotional response will only cloud your thinking and
judgment. So if you read the
book, stay calm and think clearly. Hear
him out before you jump on him.
last point to make before I comment on the specifics of the book.
The question will be asked, ďwould you recommend this book to
others?Ē I would not
recommend this book to a new Christian.
I would not recommend this book to one who has been a Christian
for a long time but is uneducated in these things, of which there are
many. I would recommend this
book to those who want to understand post-modern Christianity, but for
the most part I would not recommend adopting the message of the book.