Guest / Limited Access /


Brian McLaren has grown tired of evangelicalism. In turn, many evangelicals are wearied with Brian. His most recent book, A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith (HarperOne), must be understood as his latest iteration of a project of deconstructing the old and reconstructing a new kind of Christian faith. In it, he poses a question that this review will seek to answer. It is a question he asks of himself: "How did a mild-mannered guy like me get into so much trouble?" Or, as he asks one page later, "How did I get into this swirl of controversy?"

As a friend and a chronicler for two decades, I have watched Brian's work. Generous Orthodoxy gave us a critique of both sides and some glimpses of a third way, even if the book frustrated to no end by leaving too many loose ends dangling. I thought both The Secret Message of Jesus and Everything Must Change provided us with what could become an evangelical social gospel. Along the way, Brian has poked evangelicals in the eyes and chest by fixating on sensitive spots that bedevil them—not the least of which is the uneasy connection between the "spiritual" gospel and the "social" gospel. If evangelicalism is characterized by David Bebbington's famous quadrilateral—that is, biblicism, crucicentrism, conversionism, and activism—then Brian has poked and, to one degree or another, criticized, deconstructed, and rejected each.

Some of the pokes, if we are honest, have been deserved. He keeps on poking in A New Kind of Christianity—harder than before, in fact. For example, the chapter on how evangelicals defended slavery skewers a problem in their biblicism. In his (unsatisfying) chapter on homosexuality, McLaren writes about a movement ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Browse All Book Reviews By:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Beyond Believers
Religion is now the hottest topic for American historians.
Current IssueWhy I Forgave the Man I Once Plotted to Kill
Subscriber Access Only Why I Forgave the Man I Once Plotted to Kill
Revenge fantasies were darkening my heart before I trusted in Jesus.
RecommendedEvangelicals' Favorite Heresies Revisited by Researchers
Evangelicals' Favorite Heresies Revisited by Researchers
Second study examines what Americans believe about 47 theological statements.
TrendingWhy Max Lucado Broke His Political Silence for Trump
Why Max Lucado Broke His Political Silence for Trump
In the face of a candidate’s antics, ‘America’s Pastor’ speaks out.
Editor's PickLet's Kiss Dating Hello
Let's Kiss Dating Hello
A sociologist reveals her research about “ring by spring” culture on a Christian college campus.
Christianity Today
Brian McLaren's 'A New Kind of Christianity'
hide thisMarch March

In the Magazine

March 2010

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.