Featured Reviews, VOLUME 5

Why Evangelicals Should Read Brian McLaren’s New Book [An Essay]

Page 3 – Evangelicals and Brian McLaren’s New Book

A New Way Forward for Evangelicals. In his discussion, McLaren shares his vision: “We hope, we dream, we pray that another option will come into view – one that doesn’t pit us against others in hostility, and one that allows us to remain true to our own deepest Christian convictions” (34). Elsewhere he expresses this desire with the hope “that some courageous Evangelicals and Pentecostals will make a break from hostility while retaining their evangelistic passion” (23, footnote 17). I suggest that the realization of McLaren’s dream has already begun. At the Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy we have been assembling a like-minded and growing network of Evangelicals who are doing precisely this. We are working with Evangelicals and mainline Protestants

to “Prepare Christians for interreligious understanding and relationships without compromise and in civility through advocacy, education, and conversations.” We have seen our application of the “interfaith triangle” of education, relationship, and attitudes result in the transformation of Christian faith identity from hostile to benevolent.

Brian McLaren has done Evangelicals a great service with the writing of this book. It should be read widely, discussed vigorously, and experimented with radically as Evangelicals continue their journey through the religious pluralism and violence that characterizes the twenty-first century.

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John W. Morehead is the Custodian of the Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy and the Director of the Western Institute for Intercultural Studies. He is the editor of Beyond the Burning Times: A Pagan and Christian in Dialogue (Lion, 2009), and works in interreligious dialogue in the areas of Islam, Mormonism, and Paganism.



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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com


2 Comments

  1. In response to a recent Tweet on my essay/review and McLaren’s book I posted the following reply to a question and allegations made that McLaren is offering a critique of Reformed theology, or that one can simply read any number of mainline Protestant positions to arrive at substantially what McLaren is suggesting. I response I offered the following:

    McLaren is not challenging Reformed theology (if that’s what RT means in
    his comment), but instead his thesis surrounds a reformulated Christian
    faith identity which shifts from hostility toward benevolence in
    regards to those in other religions. The challenge for evangelicals is
    to “hear” McLaren in light of liberal perceptions, and for evangelicals
    and mainline Protestants to be willing to critique their preferred
    theological frameworks (whether Reformed, Arminian, Pentecostal or
    whatever) so as to engage pluralism more positively. Here I suggest that
    an openness to not only McLaren, but also to missional, localized
    theologies that seek to live out and frame the gospel in light of one’s
    immediate religious context is what we need to shift toward, and to the
    extent that Reformed or other theologies can be adapted to fit in these
    context so much the better. These theologies were developed in specific
    historical and cultural contexts and since theologies are
    context-dependent we should be willing to consider local or contextual
    theologies as needed. See my interview and discussion on this here: http://johnwmorehead.blogspot.com/2011/02/robert-schreiter-interview-on-local.html.
    In my view the decline of Christendom in the West, and the reality of
    our pluralistic context, should provide a growing awareness of the need
    for evangelicals and mainline Protestants to experiment with new faith
    identities and local theologies that dovetail with certain
    religio-cultural contexts.

  2. I really enjoyed your review of McLaren’s book on chr identity in a multi-faith world. I plan to use a lot of it tonight to help facilitate our Beer and Theology group (Spirit and spirits) tonight that consists of atheists, agnostics, deists/theists and Christ followers. Thanks and I look forward to your newsletters…