A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, … anabaptist/anglican, metho by Brian D. McLaren
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is probably the book with the longest title that I have read. Ever.
A Generous Orthodoxy:… is what McLaren describes himself as a confession. By this he means not an admission of misdemeanours or an apology for wrong deeds, rather an expression of his own particular stance at the present time. I gather that this is a book that has caused controversy in some parts of the Christian ‘world’, one that has caused either a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ response in its readers, just as McLaren himself does – being his confession the response is not so surprising.
I admire what McLaren is trying to do in this work. I have had the privilege of being involved in a number of different churches with varying theologies and practices. My early days of faith were shaped by Evangelicals, Catholics, a friend in the Coptic Orthodox Church and both high and low forms of the Church of England. Although there were inevitably areas of disagreement, this diversity was something I came to cherish immensely, valuing the range of spirituality they encouraged me to explore and express. In a world that tends towards confrontation rather than compromise (take for example the legal system and political systems in the UK – even with a coalition in government), often Christians in this culture seek to set denominations against each other rather than enjoying and celebrating our diversity as well as our unity in Christ.
It is a difficult journey that he takes, assessing that which is good in different approaches to faith and that which is bad. It is ironically easy to come across as judgemental in a book where you are trying to be generous and inclusive. On the whole he succeeds in that quest.
Reading this book has provoked me to ponder on many topics – the importance and nature of community life, the importance of believing in the right way over believing the right things. An interesting companion to have read soon after Pete Rollin’s ‘How (Not) to Speak of God. It is on then whole an easy read, although I did find the use of tables or quadrants a little more obtrusive that illustrative at times.
This is a book worth reading. No you won’t agree with everything, but there is much here worth meditating on. So why only three stars? Perhaps because for me there was little new in this book – it is confirming things I already thought rather than transforming and surprising me.