A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey by Brian D McLaren

10584e100531247-261x361.jpg Author Brian D McLaren
Isbn 978-0470248409
File size 2MB
Year 2008
Pages 324
Language English
File format PDF
Category religion


flast.qxd 2/26/08 7:37 PM Page xxviii ffirs.qxd 2/26/08 7:36 PM Page i A New Kind of Christian ffirs.qxd 2/26/08 7:36 PM Page ii Other Books by Brian D. McLaren The Story We Find Ourselves In The Last Word and the Word After That The Church on the Other Side A Search for What Makes Sense: Finding Faith A Search for What Is Real: Finding Faith More Ready Than You Realize A Generous Orthodoxy The Secret Message of Jesus Everything Must Change Finding Our Way Again ffirs.qxd 2/26/08 7:36 PM Page iii BOOK 1 A New Kind of Christian a tale of two friends on a spiritual journey Brian D. McLaren ffirs.qxd 2/26/08 7:36 PM Page iv Copyright © 2001 by Brian D. McLaren. All rights reserved. Published by Jossey-Bass A Wiley Imprint 989 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103-1741 www.josseybass.com No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, 978-750-8400, fax 978-646-8600, or on the Web at www.copyright.com. Requests to the publisher for permission should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030, 201-748-6011, fax 201-748-6008, or online at http://www.wiley.com/go/permissions. Excerpt from The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature, by C. S. Lewis (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1964). Reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press. Excerpt from The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis. Copyright © C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. 1956. Extract reprinted by permission. Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: While the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparing this book, they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales representatives or written sales materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. You should consult with a professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher nor author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. Readers should be aware that Internet Web sites offered as citations and/or sources for further information may have changed or disappeared between the time this was written and when it is read. Jossey-Bass books and products are available through most bookstores. To contact Jossey-Bass directly call our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 800-956-7739, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3986, or fax 317-572-4002. Jossey-Bass also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in print may not be available in electronic books. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data McLaren, Brian D., date A new kind of Christian : a tale of two friends on a spiritual journey / Brian D. McLaren. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN-13 978-0-7879-5599-1 (alk. paper) ISBN-10 0-7879-5599-X (alk. paper) ISBN-13 978-0-4702-4840-9 (paperback) ISBN-10 0-4702-4840-8 (paperback) 1. Christian life. 2. Spiritual life. I. Title. BV4501.2 .M43577 2001 248.4—dc21 00-012490 Printed in the United States of America FIRST EDITION HB Printing PB Printing 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 ftoc.qxd 2/26/08 7:34 PM Page v Contents Preface to the Paperback Edition vii Acknowledgments xi Introduction: The True Story Behind This Story xiii 1. Sometime the Peacock Wish to Be the Seagull 1 2. Entering That Awkward Age, or Does Jonah Eat Bagels? 16 3. Dan Discovers Where the Cross Meets the Dream Catcher 31 4. What a Difference a Worldview Makes 41 5. Neo Worries About Keeping Up with Jesus 57 6. Hot Words About Biblical Interpretation 66 7. Letting the Bible Read Us 77 8. Yeah, But What About the Other Guys? 86 9. Redeeming Our Culture over Dinner 97 10. C. S. Lewis in the Pulpit, or What Is Heaven About Anyway? 117 11. Getting Beyond Righteousness 134 12. French Fries and the Kingdom of God 147 13. Spiritual Practices: Secret and Shared 157 v ftoc.qxd 2/26/08 vi 7:34 PM Page vi contents 14. It’s None of Your Business Who Goes to Hell 177 15. Beginning the Journey into Terra Nova 193 16. Notes on Church Leadership from One Certified Nobody to Another 205 Afterword 237 Notes 239 About Leadership Network 245 Leadership Network Titles 247 The Author 251 A Reader's Guide for A New Kind of Christian by Timothy Keel 255 fpref.qxd 2/26/08 7:30 PM Page vii Preface to the Paperback Edition when i began writing A New Kind of Christian, I had no idea it would become the first of a trilogy or that now, nearly a decade later, all three books would still be finding a growing audience—not just in North America, but on every continent, in a growing number of translations. Just in the last twenty-four hours, I’ve heard from readers in Germany, Brazil, East Africa, and India, thankful that the trilogy had put into words what they had been feeling in these very different settings. What can I feel but surprise, humility, and gratitude in light of these responses? Of course, the books have evoked a bit of ire along with interest. But the wrath of the books’ critics now seems well worth enduring in exchange for the privilege of helping the people for whom the books were written—people for whom the religious status quo simply isn’t working. “I wouldn’t be in ministry today if it weren’t for A New Kind of Christian”—“I wouldn’t be a Christian anymore if it weren’t for The Story We Find Ourselves In”—“I was about to give up on the Bible and vii fpref.qxd 2/26/08 7:30 PM Page viii viii preface to the paperback edition God together, but then someone gave me The Last Word and the Word After That”—these kinds of responses repeatedly touch me and give me the courage to risk another round of critique from the people who can’t figure out why “a new kind of Christian” is needed at all: the old kind is good enough for them, thank you very much. The books’ popularity has shown the simultaneous discontent and hope simmering beneath the surface in and around many of our faith communities—from the center among leaders to the fringes among younger and marginalized members, to beyond the fringes among those who have left the church. Just today I received an e-mail from a young woman in the latter category who said it like this: “As a graduate student at Berkeley, where “Christian” automatically means “Christian Right” and “Christian Right” stands for pretty much everything against which the academy sees itself as pushing, I have struggled to even begin articulating how faith might produce the kind of life I want for myself and for the world. . . . [For] the first time in a long time I feel like I want, again, to identify as a Christian. So thank you very much for the work you are doing.” I’ve been asked, with this new edition, to answer the question whether I would change anything in A New Kind of Christian if I got a “do-over.” Maybe one small thing. Maybe I would de-emphasize the word “postmodern” some and emphasize other post- words more—words like postcolonial, postEnlightenment, post-Holocaust, post-Industrial, and so on. As I’ve explained elsewhere, in the last few years I’ve come to see more deeply how our epistemology or theory of knowledge is inseparable from our ethics and politics. Or to put it more simply, I’ve seen how our search for truth can’t be unhinged from fpref.qxd 2/26/08 7:30 PM Page ix Preface to the Paperback Edition ix our desire to seek justice. The word “postmodern” has been limited (by some anyway) to an intellectual conversation about truth and knowing, while the word “postcolonial” and its cousins are associated more with an ethical conversation about power and justice and way of life. So if I were writing the book now, I would be unable to deal with the former subject without dealing more extensively and explicitly with the latter ones. Of course, A New Kind of Christian implicitly grapples with postcolonial issues. For example, in Neo, a black man of Jamaican descent, the history of colonialism and its discontents finds embodiment. The story of the Native Americans (Chapter Nine) similarly resonates with postcolonial sensibilities. Neo’s desire at the book’s end to travel around the world reflects an impulse to get a global perspective and break out from what I will later call the echo chamber of the United States. Beyond that small adjustment, I think A New Kind of Christian was an honest book and I feel one dominant emotion now at its release in a paperback edition: grateful that I have been given the opportunity to think and write freely, and grateful to find I was not alone in my discontent and hope, and grateful to think that it may be of value to another wave of readers in its new form. Thanks be to God! fpref.qxd 2/26/08 7:30 PM Page x This book is dedicated to Grace, my wife of twenty-one years. She has been a true partner and friend on this spiritual journey, and together we have enjoyed four of life’s greatest privileges and pleasures . . . raising Rachel, Brett,Trevor, and Jodi. flast.qxd 2/26/08 7:37 PM Page xi Acknowledgments of the many, many people deserving thanks for their role in the production of this book, four groups of people stand out. First, my spiritual mentors from my early days engaged me in many conversations like the ones in this book. I am deeply grateful for the hours that Rod Conover, Rev. David Miller, Dave Rickert, Dr. David Dunbar, Tom Willett, and several others have invested answering my questions, sharpening my thoughts, challenging my blind spots, giving me good books, exposing me to ministry opportunities, and being my friends. Back in the 1970s, they believed in a thin, raggedy-looking, bluejeaned, guitar-playing, long-haired and bearded young guy without standard credentials. They echoed to me Paul’s words to Timothy: “Let no one despise your youth. . . .” Now, as a balding, unthin, and middle-aged guy (still blue-jeaned whenever possible), I realize that without their encouragement back then, I wouldn’t have much to say, or the confidence to say it, today. Second, my colleagues in the emergent conversation (emergentvillage.com, including Jeff Bailey, Rudy Carrasco, Brad Cecil, Tim Conder, Todd Hunter, Ron Johnson, Andrew Jones, Tony Jones, Jason Mitchell, Sally Morgenthaler, Doug Pagitt, Dr. Alan Roxburgh, Chris Seay, Danielle Shroyer, Molly Smallen, Brad Smith) have been “Neo” to me in many ways in xi flast.qxd 2/26/08 xii 7:37 PM Page xii acknowledgments recent years, as have many other conversation partners (including Dr. John Franke, Dr. Stan Grenz, Chuck Smith Jr., Brent Brooks, Dr. Skip Smith, Tim Ayers, Stephen Freed, Doug Koenigsburg, Neil and Renea Livingstone, Dr. Dallas Willard, Dr. Len Sweet, Robert Kang, Pamela Bateman, Stephen Shields, Doug Flather, Lisa Holloway). Special thanks to Dr. Dave Dunbar, Dr. Alan Roxburgh, Todd Hunter, and Chuck Smith Jr.; they read an early version of the manuscript and gave me needed and helpful feedback and encouragement. When friends and colleagues truly communicate and collaborate, it’s hard to tell where one person’s thinking ends and another’s begins; I feel that these pages reflect our best thoughts, not just mine. Third, the congregation I belong to and serve among, Cedar Ridge Community Church, deserves my deepest thanks. It can be scary having a pastor who asks questions like those found in this book. Some congregations would restrict their shepherd to tending them in familiar pastures in their own backyard. But the staff and members of Cedar Ridge have explored new territory with me far beyond the backyard fence, and they have accepted me not just as a pastor, but also as a growing Christian, a human being, a quirky and curious guy who is by nature (and perhaps calling) drawn to innovation. They’ve prayed for me, encouraged me, challenged me, and taught me more than I’ve taught them. Finally, the people of Jossey-Bass and Leadership Network have been an unmitigated delight to work with on this project. Of course, in naming these names, I want credit for any value this book has to be shared among all. But any blame (for faults, errors, episodes of ignorance or naiveté, and other reckless stupidities) belongs to the author alone. —b.d.m. flast.qxd 2/26/08 7:37 PM Page xiii introduction The True Story Behind This Story sometime in 1994, at the age of thirty-eight, I got sick of being a pastor. Frankly, I was almost sick of being a Christian. My crisis of faith deteriorated to the point that one beautiful August afternoon a year later, in the Pennsylvania mountains— on a day with one of those high-pressure Canadian air masses coming in from the northwest on a cool breeze and with the humidity so low and air so clear the distant mountains looked touchable—on this perfect summer day I felt as gray, low, foggy, dismal, and miserable as I ever have felt. I was sitting in a rocking chair, on a porch overlooking a stunningly beautiful valley shining with light, and in the dazzling brightness I wrote in my journal, “One year from today I will not be in the ministry.” I think that dark sentence was both despairing and hopeful. My prediction was wrong. Now, seven years later, I am still a Christian, still in ministry, and enjoying both more than I ever have. But at that low tide of faith, my soul was trying to tell me something important, something I needed to listen to. Just as xiii flast.qxd 2/26/08 xiv 7:37 PM Page xiv introduction feelings of suicide are often an exaggerated way for our soul to tell us something we have been denying, something like, “The life you’re living is insupportable; you can’t keep living this way,” my ministry death wish and urge for spiritual escape were telling me something I needed to attend to. Only Two Alternatives? At the time I could only see two alternatives: (1) continue practicing and promoting a version of Christianity that I had deepening reservations about or (2) leave Christian ministry, and perhaps the Christian path, altogether. There was a third alternative that I hadn’t yet considered: learn to be a Christian in a new way. That is the subject of this book. Beginning that August day, when the gloom inside my heart was so dark and the sunshine around me was so blazing and stark, a process of reevaluation was somehow set into motion. Perhaps I was like a person who spends a few days feeling suicidal and then decides, “If I could seriously ponder ending my life, then I can do anything. I can change anything in my life. So instead of ending my life altogether, I’ll end my life as I’ve been living it and start a new kind of life. I can now see a third alternative to the status quo and suicide.” M. Scott Peck says that depression often accompanies the collapse of a mental map or paradigm; it is a natural and necessary expression of grief, grief over the loss of something perhaps as dear to us as a brother or mother: our worldview, our way of seeing life. Alan Roxburgh, a colleague in the emergent conversation (an initiative to explore how Christian faith will reconfigure in the postmodern matrix), teaches people that this painful process of letting go of life as we have known it and embracing a new life on new terms (the process of paradigm change) typically follows five phases: flast.qxd 2/26/08 7:37 PM Page xv xv Introduction 1. Stability, when life is fine, current theories explain everything adequately, and questions are few—perhaps like Dorothy of The Wizard of Oz living happily in Kansas 2. Discontinuity, when the old system seems to be working less well—reflected socially in Dorothy’s conflict with her witchy neighbor, psychologically in her ambivalent desire to run away from home, and physically in the approaching thunderstorm 3. Disembedding, when we begin feeling that the current system is insupportable and we begin to disconnect from it—like Dorothy being carried away from Kansas by the tornado 4. Transition, when we haven’t fully left the old world and we haven’t fully entered the new world—like Dorothy newly arrived in Oz, trying to get her bearings 5. Reformation, when we decide to make a go of it in the new world we have entered—like Dorothy setting out on her journey to see the wizard, invigorated with new hope and passion This in many ways mirrors my experience through those shadowy times. Andrew Jones, another colleague in the emergent conversation, once drew a diagram for me that created a similar scenario. It looked something like this: 1 2 3 4 flast.qxd 2/26/08 xvi 7:37 PM Page xvi introduction Area 1 refers to the old paradigm, the old mental map or way of seeing things. Over time, it becomes increasingly cramped and feels more like a prison than freedom. Area 2 describes the early transition period, where there is a high degree of frustration and reaction. An individual or group in this phase turns against the old paradigm and can’t stop talking about how wrong, inhumane, or insupportable it is. In area 3, people gradually turn from deconstructing the past to constructing the future and begin the hard work of designing a new paradigm to take the place of the old one. This is a time of creative exhilaration, challenge, and perhaps anxiety—because the discovery of a new paradigm that will be superior to the old is by no means assured and because the wrath of the defenders of the old is likely to be unleashed on those who dare propose an alternative. If the creation of a new paradigm succeeds, the group moves into area 4, where the new era develops and expands freedom and possibilities. (Of course, one must anticipate a time when the new liberating paradigm itself becomes confining and old.) Understanding My Frustration These images and illustrations describe, at least in part, why I had grown frustrated with the way I was being a Christian and the way I was helping others to be Christians. The old way was, as an old Bob Dylan lyric puts it, “rapidly aging,” and I needed to disembed and reevaluate and begin a journey toward a new home—for my sake, for the sake of the people I was called to lead, and perhaps even for God’s sake. But the new way hadn’t been created yet. We were barely into area 2, maybe sticking our toes into area 3. Hence the anxiety. There is a dimension to this experience of disembedding from modern Christianity that none of us can fully understand flast.qxd 2/26/08 7:37 PM Page xvii Introduction xvii or describe. That’s the theological dimension. What if God is actually behind these disillusionments and disembeddings? What if God is trying to move us out of Egypt, so to speak, and into the wilderness, because it’s time for the next chapter in our adventure? What if it’s time for a new phase in the unfolding mission God intends for the people (or at least some of the people) who seek to know, love, and serve God? What if our personal experiences of frustration are surface manifestations of a deeper movement of God’s Spirit? In other words, what if this experience of frustration that feels so bad and destructive is actually a good thing, a needed thing, a constructive thing in God’s unfolding adventure with us? Maybe Martin Luther felt this way in his life as a monk. Maybe when he was told to preach about indulgences or to make room for emissaries from Rome to do so, he thought to himself, “I can’t take this anymore. Maybe I’ll go back to being a lawyer.” His experience seemed bad to him. (He must have been frightened: Am I losing my faith? Am I falling away from God?) But Protestants would agree, at least, that something good was afoot. That August day, I felt miserable, and I continued to feel miserable for some months. But gradually, although giving up in despair remained tempting, hope started becoming more interesting. On to Something I began to feel like one of those rumpled detectives on TV who finds a clue that opens up a whole new twist in the plot. Or better, I began to feel like a scientist in a movie, doing a routine run of experiments. I’m looking over my data and this icy feeling starts back between my shoulder blades and crawls up flast.qxd 2/26/08 7:37 PM Page xviii xviii introduction my neck, and I think, “Something’s not right here. This pattern in the data just doesn’t make sense.” The camera comes in over my shoulder, and all you see are rows of numbers, but I pull out my cell phone and call my partner and say, “Jack, you’ve got to get over here to the lab. No, now. We’ve got something major here.” Or better yet, I felt like Eleanor Arroway in the movie Contact, at that moment when she is sitting on her car listening through headphones to the random noise of space picked up by the array of radiotelescopes that surround her. Suddenly comes this sound, like a clothes dryer with a really bad bearing that is drying a pair of rollerblades. “This is no random noise,” she thinks. “There is a pattern to this noise. This noise is data, trying to tell me something.” Of course, my data isn’t numbers. My data is my experience—my general experience as a committed Christian and my specific experience as a pastor. Experiences like these: 1. I drive my car and listen to the Christian radio station, something my wife always tells me I should stop doing (“because it only gets you upset”). There I hear preacher after preacher be so absolutely sure of his bombproof answers and his foolproof biblical interpretations (in spite of the fact that Preacher A at 9:30 A.M. usually contradicts Preacher B at 10:00 A.M. and so on throughout the day), his five easy steps (alliterated around the letter P), his crisis of the month (toward which you should give a “love gift . . . if the Lord so leads”). And the more sure he seems, the less I find myself wanting to be a Christian, because on this side of the microphone, antennas, and speaker, life isn’t that simple, answers aren’t that clear, and nothing is that sure. (Paradoxically, at that moment I might consider sending him money, hoping that by investing in his simpler vision of the world, I myself will be able to buy into it more. But eventually I will stop throwing good money after bad.)

Author Brian D McLaren Isbn 978-0470248409 File size 2MB Year 2008 Pages 324 Language English File format PDF Category Religion Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare   A Leadership Network Publication A New Kind of Christian’s conversation between a pastor and his daughter’s high school science teacher reveals that wisdom for life’s most pressing spiritual questions can come from the most unlikely sources. This stirring fable captures a new spirit of Christianity–where personal, daily interaction with God is more important than institutional church structures, where faith is more about a way of life than a system of belief, where being authentically good is more important than being doctrinally “right,” and where one’s direction is more important than one’s present location. Brian McLaren’s delightful account offers a wise and wondrous approach for revitalizing Christian spiritual life and Christian congregations.     Download (2MB) Why Did Jesus, Moses, The Buddha, And Mohammed Cross The Road? Faith As An Option: Possible Futures For Christianity Christianity After Religion Nonsense From The Bible The The Western Tradition: I.B.Tauris History of Monasticism Load more posts

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