Book Review: A Generous Orthodoxy

Book Review: A Generous Orthodoxy

A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, catholic, green, incarnational, depressed- yet hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian.

By Brian McLaren (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

In A Generous Orthodoxy, author Brian McLaren seeks to move the modern world’s theological dialog beyond the paralyzing impasse of liberal versus conservative, into a “post-liberal” and “post-conservative” inclusivity. This, however, does not mean attempting to merely merge the two, but rather moving beyond them, linking orthodoxy with practice (that is binding spiritual theory to loving action) from a biblical perspective.

Towards this end, he shares the various ways in which different manifestations of Christianity (think of denominations) have shaped and influenced his appreciation for and understand of Jesus. This evokes a realization that God is an “unified, eternal, mysterious, relational community/family/society/entity of saving love.”

Often using hyperbole to provoke critical thinking among his readers, McLaren then asks the confrontational question, “Would Jesus be a Christian?” This sets the framework for the rest of the book, with each of the ensuing 16 chapters addressing one item in the book’s cumbersomely long subtitle: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, catholic, green, Incarnational, depressed-yet-hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian.

In doing this, McLaren does not promote an all-encompassing and inclusive orthodoxy—one to conclusively end all orthodoxies—but rather shares his thoughts on what it might include so that productive dialogue can be advanced in constructing an orthodoxy that is generous, as well as accepting, inclusive, and loving.  Towards that end, each chapter concludes with a list of discussion questions to start the conversation.

[A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, catholic, green, incarnational, depressed- yet hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian, by Brian McLaren. Published by Zondervan/Youth Specialties, 2006; ISBN: 978-0310258032; 352 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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