Archives For Brian McLaren


[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”1601427913″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”222″]A Vision of Love and Unity
for All of Creation

A Feature Review of 

The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion Is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian
Brian McLaren

Hardback: Convergent Books, 2016
Buy Now:  [ [easyazon_link identifier=”1601427913″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ]  [  [easyazon_link identifier=”B01AQO1652″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Kindle[/easyazon_link] ]

Reviewed by Leslie Klingensmith

For several years, I was a Brian McLaren skeptic.  It wasn’t personal.  I’ve never met him, and have not seen him speak in person (although I would like that to change).  My skepticism was based on what felt like a universal wave of adulation for him that, in my opinion, was easily turned into dismissal of everything about the church and our history.  While I agree that much about the church needs to (indeed MUST) change, I bristle at the suggestion that the church by which I was nurtured and to whom I have dedicated my vocational life is as hopelessly misguided and selfish as many McLaren devotees say it is.  After all, there are millions of people across denominations who are doing such wonderful work in the world and who make me hopeful for the future of God’s people.  If the church produced them, can it be all bad?  Skeptics in the McLaren universe don’t get very far – if you raise questions about the “Everything Must Change” mind set, you are dismissed as defensive and too invested in the old order of things.  If you point out ways that the current church is already moving in many of the directions McLaren advocates, especially missional communities and emphasis on serving the wider world instead of maintaining institutions, you are in denial about how bad things really are in the mainline church.  Brian McLaren’s cult-like status got on my nerves.

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Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)

   [easyazon_image align=”center” height=”500″ identifier=”1601427913″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”333″]

[easyazon_link identifier=”1601427913″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion Is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian[/easyazon_link]

Brian McLaren


Read a NY Times op-ed about this book..


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I have recently written three brief reviews for other websites…
(Read the reviews below, in my order of preference for the books)

[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”1933495545″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”” width=”106″ alt=”brief reviews” ][easyazon-link asin=”1933495545″ locale=”us”]Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice[/easyazon-link]
Christine Paintner
Paperback: Ave Maria Press, 2013.


Reviewed for the Slow Church blog…

One of the key facets of what John and I are calling Slow Church is the idea that creation operates as a gift economy: i.e., that all life is created and sustained by God.  Our call as humans is to live gratefully within the broader economy of creation.  Part of a life of gratitude is the living of a receptive life, in which we are wondrously attentive to the abundant gifts of God that surround us at any given moment.

The challenge to living such a life, however, is that we all too often are formed into the pattern of industrial Western culture that is moving ever faster, and in which attentiveness is rapidly becoming a lost art, as Maggie Jackson has chronicled in her recent and superb book Distracted.  However, humanity is not lost, we are still capable of reversing this trend and re-training our attention.  There are many arts, crafts and even hobbies (e.g., birdwatching, as Phil Kenneson has pointedly argued in a recent talk on Slow Church) that can train us to be more attentive.  It is in this context, that I found Christine Valters Paintner’s new book, Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice.  I was familiar with Paintner’s work, and had even reviewed her recent book on Lectio Divina.

I was therefore not surprised that Eyes of the Heart is a profoundly helpful resource in helping us to recover the lost art of attention, and will certainly be of interest to readers who are interested in photography (or those who might eventually become so; although with the smartphone explosion over the last few years, practically everyone has easy access to a decent camera, and is a photographer at some level).

[ Read the full review…  ]

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C. Christopher Smith - Letters to Me - ExcerptHere is an excerpt from the letter I wrote for this new volume…

Letters to Me: Conversations With a Younger Self.
Dan Schmidt, Editor.

Buy now: 
[ Amazon Paperback ] [ Kindle ]

Other Contributors include: Margot Starbuck, Tamára Lunardo, David Baer, Seth Barnes, Lore Ferguson, Lyla Lindquist, Anita Mathia, Brian McLaren, Penny Nash, Wade Owlett, Kristin Ritzau, Aletheia Schmidt, Therese Schwenkler, Charity Singleton, Shawn Smucker, J. B. Wood, and Eric Sheridan Wyatt.


[ Read more about the book on the Slow Church blog… ]



The Violence of Impatience

Opening Paragraphs of my Letter to my Younger Self

C. Christopher Smith

Dear Chris,


I praise God often for the passion for truth and justice that you have. You want to see the shalom of God’s kingdom fully embodied here on earth and have deeply devoted yourself to this work. I am concerned, however, that in your zeal for these true and excellent ends, you have become inattentive to the ways in which you pursue these ends.


Perhaps your urgency to see the reconciliation of all things in God’s creation is causing its own sorts of divisions that will eventually need to be reconciled? My hope is that you will not cause new problems in trying to solve old ones. After all, we live in an interconnected creation; the greater the force we exert upon others, even with the noble intent of moving us all forward toward God’s shalom, the greater the pain that the whole creation will have to bear.

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Why Evangelicals Should Read

Brian McLaren’s New Book

An Essay by John W. Morehead.

Why Evangelicals should read Brian McLaren's new BookWhy Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?:
Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World

Brian D. McLaren
Hardback: Jericho Books, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Brian McLaren is a prolific author. His most recent volume addresses one of the most important topics of our day as it relates to Christian identity in the midst of a pluralistic and post-9/11 environment. Although McLaren is frequently labeled as liberal, even heretical, by many conservative Evangelicals, it would be a mistake to dismiss his ideas in every instance, and particularly in this volume. In the following I provide a review, conversational interaction, and critique, which includes a recognition of the significant contribution McLaren makes to Evangelical theologies of faith identity and religious interaction, the beginning of a process of conversation with McLaren over some of the issues he raises and suggestions he sets forth, and also an offering of critical feedback for further exploration with McLaren and the broader Evangelical community.

Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? purposefully draws upon the fact that the title sounds like the introduction to familiar jokes. But McLaren uses this a rhetorical strategy in order to provide a thought provoking discussion related to his agenda for the church’s reformulation of various areas of theology and praxis. The subject matter should not be understood as a treatise on interreligious dialogue, but instead as addressing pre-dialogue considerations. The central thesis McLaren advances relates to what he labels “Conflicted Religious Identity Syndrome,” which he defines as a part of the Christian’s faith identity that involves the extension of hostility or opposition to the other as enemy in regards to those in other religions (19). He expands on this idea with these words:

Our root problem is neither religious difference nor religious identity nor even strong religious identity. Our root problem is the hostility that we often employ to make and keep our identities strong – whether those identities are political, economic, philosophical, scientific, or religious. (emphasis in original) (63)

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Here are a few new book releases this week that are worth checking out:

Our most anticipated release of this week is Brian McLaren‘s new book, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World.  ERB Editor Chris Smith wrote about this new book for The Huffington Post, saying: “For all those who mourn the recent deluge of violence in our land, and particularly those who identify themselves as followers of Jesus, Brian McLaren’s Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road? is essential reading. The time has come for us to repent of our hostile ways, and to immerse ourselves in all our diversity into the conversational work of imagining a new Christian identity that is marked by peace and kindness toward the other. McLaren’s work will serve well to launch us into the thick of this conversation.”  (Read the full review…)

Our review is in the current print issue, which is on its way to subscribers…

Hardback, Jericho Books.
Buy now [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

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ERB NEW Print IssueThe next ERB print issue is at the printer now and will be mailed next week…


Interviews with JR Woodward and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.
Reviews of new books by Brian McLaren, Jonathan Evison, Phyllis Tickle, Paul Mariani and MORE!

If you are not a subscriber, now is the perfect time to subscribe and make sure you get this issue as quickly as possible.
CLICK HERE to subscribe: $18.95 for 1 Year (4 issues) / $35 for 2 Years (8 issues)

If you live outside North America, you can receive our print edition for FREE via email…
CLICK HERE for more info…

Click the cover image above to view a larger version.

Below you will find the ERB Table of Contents for this issue…

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“Whither the Community?

A review of
Naked Spirituality:
A Life with God in 12 Simple Words.

By Brian McLaren.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

NAKED SPIRITUALITY - Brian McLarenNaked Spirituality:
A Life with God in 12 Simple Words.

By Brian McLaren.

Hardback: HarperOne, 2011.
RELEASE DATE:  March 15.

Pre-order Now [ Amazon ]

For many years now, I have had a deep respect for Brian McLaren’s work.  Over the last decade, I have read the vast majority of his books and found him to be one of the clearest interpreters of Christianity in this postmodern era. Even when his previous book, A New Kind of Christianity, stirred up a storm of controversy by asking some pointed questions about the nature of the church, I thought the questions he asked were sorely needed and on the right track.  With this bit of history in mind, I found myself rather perplexed by Brian’s new book Naked Spirituality: A Life With God in 12 Simple Words.

I should be clear here that I am sympathetic to the premise of the book. There is a growing population of young adults in North America who have been wounded by Christianity and who want nothing at all to do with the church (this demographic has been described in recent years in books such as They Like Jesus but not the Church and UnChristian); Brian has a keen sense of their pain and wants to extend an olive branch of sorts to these young people, re-engaging them in a conversation about faith.  In the early parts of the book, Brian describes the task he is undertaking:

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A Review of

853982: A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith A New Kind of Christianity:
Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith

By Brian McLaren
Hardback: HarperOne, 2010.

Buy now: [ ]

Review by Adam Ellis.

[ This review originally appeared on Adam’s blog,
and is reprinted here with permission ]

Though I’m quite sure he would deny that anyone owed him anything, I owe Brian McLaren a debt of gratitude. Over the years, Brian’s writing has breathed fresh life and vitality into my faith. To say that I was excited when Viral Bloggers offered an opportunity to review his newest book would be an understatement along the lines of claiming that Bono is kind of interested in social justice, or that Glenn Beck exaggerates a little.

Reviewing the Reviews

As I was finishing the book, I watched as reviews began to pop-up on the internet. The less-than-surprising news is that hard-core Calvinists (including the “New-Calvinists”) hate it with a white-hot hatred they normally reserve for child abusers and made-for-TV movies on the Lifetime Network. Reading their reviews, you would think that Brian had done something to them personally, or had betrayed them in some sense (which is weird, sense they haven’t liked most of his books). I was disappointed to pick up on this vibe even in a review by Michael Wittmer, whom I had generally considered to be one of the more level-headed thinkers from that perspective. Scot McKnight, whom I have a great deal of respect for, and who is not really thought of as a Calvinist, wrote a review for Christianity Today that, while much kinder and more respectful in tone, claimed that Brian wasn’t really saying anything new, but was simply re-packaging the Classical Liberalism that was typical of German Theology before the 2nd World War as typified in Adolf Von Harnack. This struck me as odd, because Brian clearly intends to transcend such polarized categories (not merely repackage one category in a fresh way as “the right one”), and the point at which Brian’s thought draws this criticism from McKnight, is actually closer to the much more contemporary (and 3rd-way) thinking found in the work of Peter Enns.

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David Fitch Reflects on
Brian Mclaren’s New Book

It feels a bit ominous to read the blog reviews of Brian McLaren’s latest – A New Kind of Christianity. The book is raising quite a stink. No surprise eh? One gets the sense there is something different going on this time versus the last couple book releases of Brian’s: The Secret Message and Everything Must Change. One gets the impression we are at a pivot point, a moment that upsets the whole terrain of theological allegiances having to do with the post evangelical emerging church developments of the last ten-fifteen years. It’s like Brian is shaking up the foundations of post evangelical theology. I read the book on my flight home from the ecclesia network national gathering  last week and here are some initial observations.

Read the full review:

Brian McLaren.

Hardback: HarperOne, 2010.
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The NY TIMES Review of
The Rise of America’s Surveillance State
By Shane Harris

At this very moment analysts at the National Security Agency some 30 miles north of the White House are monitoring countless flashpoints of data — cellphone calls to “hot” numbers, an e-mail message on a suspicious server, an oddly worded tweet — as they carom around the globe like pinballs in cyberspace.

The snippets of information could conceivably lead them to Anwar al-Awlaki, a fugitive cleric in Yemen whose fiery sermons have inspired violent jihadists. Or to the next would-be underwear bomber. Or, much more likely in the needle-in-a-haystack world of cyber detection, it might lead to nothing at all — at least nothing of any consequence in determining Al Qaeda’s next target.

This is the world of modern eavesdropping, or signals intelligence, as its adherents call it, and for many years it operated in the shadows. “The Puzzle Palace,” the 1983 best seller by James Bamford that remains the benchmark study of the N.S.A., first pulled back the curtain to provide a glint of unwanted sunlight on the place. And the years after the Sept. 11 attacks — a period in which the surveillance agencies’ muscular new role would lead to secret wiretapping programs inside the United States, expansive data-mining operations and more — gave rise to public scrutiny that made the place a veritable greenhouse of exposure.

Read the full review:

The Rise of America’s Surveillance State
Shane Harris.

Hardback: The Penguin Press, 2010
Buy now: [ Amazon ]