Wednesday, May 30, 2007

McLaren: "A New Kind of Headache"

I just finished A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren - I know I'm not very "cutting edge" with my reading list. But McLaren, I think, still seems to be on the leading edge of the emergent/emerging movement.

This book gave me a headache, not for what is in it, but because I genuinely enjoyed it stylistically as well as really liking a lot of what he had to say. As I leave most emergent writings (Driscoll excluded), their general use of Scripture makes me nervous. It seems to take liberties I wouldn't, but at the same time I'm sure inconsistencies could be found in my approach. I intend my approach to be historical/grammatical, but I know I come with my own cultural baggage, systems, etc...

That's I think what I appreciate about this book. It raises questions about our cultural (modern) perspectives and systems. And, in a non-postmodern way (in my limited understanding of it), it builds a postmodern system of sorts. I'm not sure I'm being fair here, but there were times where I was thinking, "Isn't this just a 'different' system replacing the 'modern' one?" I know that's part of the idea, to craft what works (missionally) for each culture like a missionary, but ought we not seek to find out what holds it altogether as we move through history? (Writing, whether it is clear to the reader or not, really helps me think more clearly.) I understand we won't "nail" it, that we have our baggage, but should we not strive to figure out what is timeless and then contextualize it. If we contextualize first, aren't we begging for syncretism? Now I think good missions/contextualization should be on the edge of syncretism because it would be the most indigineous expression while maintaining the key elements of the gospel.

My intention isn't to get into the details of the book, though that would be most responsible. But my headache also occurs because I liked the book that a lot of the folks I respect don't like. I know Driscoll isn't a McLaren fan, at least theologically, and I don't imagine some of the others I like would be big fans, either. I'll probably post on a couple articles I got online in response to the book.

It is a good read, worthy of thought. I just need some help working through the narrative and separating the gold from the dross.

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