Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Scot McKnight Reviews Brian McLaren's New Kind of Christianity

Scot McKnight has written a review in Christianity Today of Brian McLaren's latest book A New Kind of Christianity.  His final two paragraphs are telling:
"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."
"Alas, A New Kind of Christianity shows us that Brian, though he is now thinking more systemically, has fallen for an old school of thought. 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."
A few of us at the store have started reading it but most of us are agreed that McLaren is strong on rhetoric but short on evidence for his new thesis.  I've slowed considerably in my own reading because there is so much more available that is better reading. McKnight observes that McLaren continues to poke (although harder than before) at evangelicals and while some of it may be deserved he says McLaren's "poking is relentless enough to make me say that he needs to write a book that simply states in positive terms what he thinks without using evangelicalism as his foil."  McKnight also observes that the poking is not only directed at evangelicals "he is also calling everything about Christian orthodoxy—from the ecumenical creeds through the Reformation and up to present-day evangelicalism—into question."

See also the responses McKnight has received to his review on his blog. 


Esteban Vázquez said...

Ah, the moment has arrived at last: two of the Gurus contradict each other, with one of them reaching the same basic conclusion as Kevin DeYoung about the other. Whatever shall the emergents do?!

Louis said...

Well, someone could start a "post-emergent" church. :)