A Generous Orthodoxy (Book Review)

I finally got a chance to read Brian McLaren’s book A Generous Orthodoxy. I can’t understand why I waited to so long to get it and then read it! This book is the basic handbook if you want to learn what Emergent’s think or what they are really about. Brian is one of the people that brought the whole idea of the Emergent Church into more of a formal organization. Every so often the church has gone through a reformation of sorts and I believe (along with Brian) that the Emergent Church is a part of that reformation.

As I read his book I found myself several times stopping and thinking about how much of this are things I have thought or said. There were many other times where I would stop and re-read what I had just read and then re-read it again. Here is one such statement….

How many children in Sunday school learn that radical sense of Christian servant identity as opposed to Christians are nice people who know the truth and do good. Non-Christians are bad people who don’t. Therefore we need to avoid Non-Christians or convert them as fast as possible or try to pass laws to keep them under control and protect ourselves from them-until we can escape them forever in heaven?

All I can say is WOW!!! That is so true of the church in America today and that is a very sad fact. One of the things that I really liked about what Brian had to say was how we as a church need to be reaching ahead of us, to be mentored, and reaching behind us, to mentor others.

In Chapter 3 Brian asks that question, “Would Jesus be a Christian?” That is a very provocative question, but one that I think we need to ask ourselves. He answers it with three points….

1. The more I study the Bible and reflect on the life and teachings of Jesus, the more I think most of Christianity as practiced today has very little to do with the real Jesus found there.

2. Often I don’t think Jesus would be caught dead as a Christian, were he physically here today.

3. Generally, I don’t think Christians would like Jesus if he showed up today as he did 2,000 years ago. In fact, I think we’d call him a heretic and plot to kill him, too.

If Brian is correct in his assessment (and I believe that he is) than the church in America really needs to examine itself. Just as Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door at Wittenburg, I believe Brian has done the same thing with this book, but instead this is to the door of the American Church. I encourage every church leader and Christian to read this book. Brian’s humble approach is refreshing and enlightening. I know that I am changed by reading this and I hope you will be as well.

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Kim, father to Hannah & Caleb, and the connections pastor at The River Church. The thoughts expressed here are my own and not The River Church's.

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