A New Kind of Christian:
A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey
Brian D. McLaren
Jossey-Bass, 192 pages, $21.95
Is the church at a monumental crossroads, like those created by the rare epochal shifts of moving from the ancient world to the Middle Ages, or from medieval to modern times? Are we witnessing the slow death of one expiring age and the groaning, struggling birth of a new one?
Many thinkers believe that is exactly where the church finds itself at the dawn of the 21st century, and they have written books to help us understand the grand implications of this crossroads. Of these books, Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christian is among the most helpful. McLaren, a pastor, has a passion for Christ's church to accomplish God's will in this unique generation. His understanding of how we should go about it is uncommon.
What is this epochal change? It is the postmodern turn, and McLaren's explanation can help those who know they should understand postmodernism but are not sure they do. McLaren's interest in postmodernism is not as a positive philosophy with an ideological superstructure constructed at the hands of Foucault, Derrida, and Rorty, but more importantly the natural result of the exhaustion and slow death of modernism—with nothing yet replacing it.
Modernism is dying because experience brought the Enlightenment project up short in some important areas. For instance, working in a closed, naturalistic system, science cannot answer the ultimate questions of why the universe is this way rather than another, or whether there's any meaning behind it. Those answers can come only from a transcendent source, for which modernism makes little room.
Enlightenment science also failed to provide a sufficient basis for acting ...1