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A Generous Or†hodoxy: Why I Am a…
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A Generous Or†hodoxy: Why I Am a Missional, Evangelical,… (2004)

by Brian D. McLaren

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1,667264,308 (3.69)12
  1. 10
    Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church by D. A. Carson (soflbooks)
    soflbooks: Readers interested in the emergent movement will get a full-orbed perspective by reading these two books - McLaren its leading proponent, Carson a learned critic.
  2. 00
    A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith by Brian D. McLaren (jstamp26)
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I resisted reading this for a while as it looked rather 'heavy'...but having read McLaren's pseudo-fiction trilogy, I was interested enough to try it. Well worth reading, in my view. It starts with an overview of the author's journey in faith, from flannelgraph pictures at Sunday School through teenage doubts, the 'Jesus movement', through different views of Jesus, beginning with the Conservative Evangelical one, and moving outward, to embrace more and more viewpoints, before considering the idea of a 'generous' orthodoxy, open to all, encompassing much.

After outlining his impressions and experiences with different flavours of Christianity, McLaren then outlines why he considers himself to be missional, Biblical, Contemplative, and so on, including his understanding of more controversial terms such as Calvinist, Charismatic, and even Liberal/Conservative. It's all good stuff, based on solid Biblical foundations, infused with the wisdom of tradition and a great deal of rational thinking. Wisely, he does not touch on current 'issues' over which the church is sadly divided, but emphasises instead the message of Jesus, and the importance of demonstrating God's love to the world, seeing the Kingdom of Heaven as now, rather than simply trying to focus on eternity as so many seem to.

There's a lot of wisdom in this book, and a great deal to think about. Definitely recommended, particularly for those who have already written off McLaren due to his sometimes controversial actions (albeit based on love).
( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
I’ve been digging into some books by Christian thinkers who have generally been frowned upon in the stream of Evangelicalism that I’ve grown up in. I’ve found it to be a very enlightening and convicting experience on many levels. That’s certainly that case again with A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren. Unlike Rob Bell, whose book Love Wins I also read this year, Brian was always a no-no author. Rob was #farewelled from my old evangelical circles, but McLaren was never even welcome. I expected that I would find him relativistic and full of fun, but ultimately thin platitudes, but was I pleasantly surprised.

I think Brian is definitely one of the most forward thinking Christians I’ve encountered and one who will not be pigeonholed with one label — which the subtitle of this book (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) expresses very well.

The book is separated into two broad sections including an introduction/warning called Chapter 0.

You can tell that the introduction was probably written last and (I think) reveals Brian’s introverted nature and also a great deal of his discomfort/uncertainty in sharing the ideas he expresses in the book. It warns the reader multiple times that they must be open minded and not looking for a list of rules or a closed case on orthodoxy. I think he was acutely aware of how this book would upset and challenge those with a black and white, “small view” of God and McLaren uses “Chapter 0” to give them ample opportunity to return the book. There is also with a humility that permeates this chapter (as with all of this book) that reminds them that he is not offering up any new ideas of his own. Quoting G.K. Chesterton, McLaren says

“I am the man who with utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before…I did try to found a heresy of my own and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered it was orthodoxy.”

The first section of the book begins by chronicling the movements of Brian’s spiritual life from fundamentalism, through the Jesus movement, to the charismatic church, into evangelicalism, and finally to where he was at the time of writing the book (2004). He let’s the reader in on the good things he has learned at each stop and also what things were stifling, uncomfortable, or troubling. He spends a good deal discussing the “Seven Jesuses” that he encountered through those spiritual rest stops and how each one revealed an important truth about Christ. Brian is clearly thankful and gracious towards each vision of Jesus he received stating that without each of the different revelations, his view of God would be incomplete. He then guides the reader into some more spiritual questioning based on the “Seven Jesus” he just described. Some questions focus on the nature of God as revealed in Jesus v.s. the nature many of us have been presented by the church. He also asks questions about what the church is, what salvation means, what atonement stories exist, etc…, letting the reader come to their own conclusions about how “full” their view of God is.

The second section of the book digs into each label listed in the book’s subtitle (Why I am a …) and takes the reader through the good, bad, and ugly of each one, encouraging them to see it from a new perspective and integrate it into their own spirituality. This section is the real meat of the book and the section I found the most healing, soothing, and challenge. I won’t go into detail about each section here as I plan on writing more in depth about each one in future posts, but suffice to say they were excellent.

I found Brian to be full of grace, generosity, and thoughtfulness. He never attacked any person or was flippant towards any theological stance or belief system. His perspective on many of the labels challenged the straw men that readers may consciously or unconsciously hold against them and encourages them to humbly reconsider their biases and false pretenses.

There was a quote from Roman Catholic missiologist Vincent Donovan that was used multiple times in the book and it truly captures the heart of Brain’s Message in A Generous Orthodoxy.

“Never accept and be content with unanalyzed assumptions, assumptions about work, about the people, about the church or Christianity. Never be afraid to ask questions about the work we have inherited or the work we are doing. There is no question that should not be asked or that is outlawed. The day we are completely satisfied with what we have been doing; that day we have found the perfect, unchangeable system of work, the perfect answer, never in need of being corrected again, on that day we will know that we are wrong, that we have made the greatest mistake of all”

This book came at a wonderful time for me. I am struggling with my spiritual past and future. Wondering if I’m questioning certain things too much or moving too far from the beliefs I used to hold. I often alternate between anger at the past “me” and the institutions I was involved in and fear at the new me and new “me” I’m moving towards. The words and ideas of this book calmed the storm in many ways and let me know that this path has been walked before. It didn’t blithely confirm or smooth over my current attitudes, but challenged me to face up to my own failures and often hateful, unfair attitudes. It didn’t didn’t stand in firm condemnation of me either, but reminded me that my spiritual life is a journey and unfinished one….this is just a moment in time. I look forward to sharing some more of about those things in my future posts about this book, but I hope that you will be encouraged to pick a copy of A Generous Orthodoxy, read it, and experience the good things Brian McLaren has to offer those seeking better ways of following Jesus. ( )
  erlenmeyer316 | Sep 21, 2015 |
I knew going into this that McLaren has been pegged with a lot of red flags. The bad publicity alone piqued my curiosity and therefore I wanted to see for myself what the issues were. From my perspective there wasn't any glaring unorthodox views that has caused me to toss the book aside or label McLaren a heretic as so many have done. I have agreed in most part with McLaren's views about salvation. I also like how McLaren draws on the strengths and weaknesses of all the different traditions of the Christian faith and encourages us to come together on our strengths rather than part ways on our weaknesses. I was struck by his assessment regarding the hermeneutics of Scripture. We have an inerrant and infallible Scripture, but we have errant and fallible men who interpret them. Therefore, nobody can lay claim on the proper interpretation of Scripture. I also liked how McLaren expanded upon Calvin's acronym of TULIP. He didn't replace it or redefine it, but interpreted it in such a way that becomes more generous rather than exclusive. A few things I disagreed with McLaren on was some of his church history. It seemed his history of the Anabaptists and Reformed traditions were a bit off on some points. I was taken a bit back about his incessant apologies for the masculine use of God throughout the book. Why the apology when Scripture alone utilizes the masculine pronouns? Furthermore, McLaren devoted an entire chapter to being "green" which I take issue with. Sure, let's be good stewards of the earth, but let's not allow our stewardship of earth and nature take precedence over our care for people. Chopping down a few trees so people without homes can now have a place to live doesn't make me any less generous or compassionate than someone who nurtures our earth's resources. McLaren lost me when I got to the "Why I Am Emergent" chapter. A lot of new jargon I did not understand, but some of which I did. Even though he was trying not to sound pluralistic, he really is. Personally, I find nothing wrong with being pluralistic in our theological beliefs. It is my hope that most Christians are pluralistic, primarily in their distinctives and secondary issues. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I was somewhat disappointed with the fact that McLaren spent most of the time describing what a generous orthodoxy is not, but little time on what it is. It seems only the last and final chapter was dedicated to defining this generous orthodoxy. And perhaps the best definition I found is this:

"To be a Christian in a generously orthodox way is not to claim to have truth captured, stuffed, and mounted on the wall. It is rather to be in a loving community of people who are seeking the truth on the road of mission and who have been launched on the quest by Jesus, who, with us, guides us still." (page 333). ( )
  gdill | May 16, 2013 |
McLaren really made his course clear here: headed down the lane of pluralism and an abandonment of Biblical authority. So why two stars? Because his opening picture of the different Jesuses he sees in the different streams of Christianity was very good. ( )
  chriskrycho | Mar 30, 2013 |
This is a very helpful book, he seems to be reacting to many of the difficulties we feel with Christian belief at the beginning of the 21st century. He starts by describing how he has benefited from various different brands of Christianity he has been involved with, but more usefully he then reports on the way the contrasting views show up each others deficiencies.
One underlying and contentious idea is that the faith is not static but does change as history goes on. The priorities of TULIP give way to the five principles of the fundamentalists. The "unchanging gospel" is not as stable as we thought.
He warns us about the dangers and misunderstandings that can results from the way we use some words, judge, father, king, about God.
He reckons our main enemy is the reductionist ideology of modernism, no doubt that's why he is so accepting of post-modernism! By the end of the book he has almost abandoned cross cultural evangelism, or at least he would repudiate any pushy, forceful version of the gospel.
I think his version of the gospel appears a bit feeble - Gods love to us and to all of creation- but there is an awful lot to be learned for the modern church in this book. ( )
  othurtle | May 31, 2010 |
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Book description
Generous Orthodoxy and a Changing World

Foreword by John R. Franke

Introduction

Chapter 0. For Mature Audiences Only

Part One: Why I Am a Christian

Chapter 1: The Seven Jesuses I Have Known

Chapter 2: Jesus and God B 

Chapter 3. Would Jesus Be a Christian? 

Chapter 4. Jesus: Savior of What? 

Part Two: The Kind of Christian I Am

Chapter 5: Why I am Missional  

Chapter 6: Why I am evangelical  

Chapter 7. Why I am Post/Protestant  

Chapter 8. Why I am Liberal/Conservative 

Chapter 9: Why I am Mystical/Poetic  

Chapter 10: Why I am Biblical  

Chapter 11: Why I am Charismatic/Contemplative  

Chapter 12. Fundamentalist/Calvinist  

Chapter 13. Why I am (Ana)baptist/Anglican  

Chapter 14: Why I am Methodist  

Chapter 15. Why I am catholic  

Chapter 16: Why I am Green  

Chapter 17: Why I am Incarnational [at one time titled "Why I am Buddhist/Muslim/Hindu/Jewish ", per loc.gov (Library of Congress]];

Chapter 18: Why I am Depressed-Yet-Hopeful 

Chapter 19: Why I am Emergent 

Chapter 20: Why I am Unfinished 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0310257476, Hardcover)

A confession and manifesto from a senior leader in the emerging church movement---A Generous Orthodoxy calls for a radical, Christ-centered orthodoxy of faith and practice in a missional, generous spirit. Brian McLaren argues for a post-liberal, post-conservative, post-protestant convergence, which will stimulate lively interest and global conversation among thoughtful Christians from all traditions. In a sweeping exploration of belief, author Brian McLaren takes us across the landscape of faith, envisioning an orthodoxy that aims for Jesus, is driven by love, and is defined by missional intent. A Generous Orthodoxy rediscovers the mysterious and compelling ways that Jesus can be embraced across the entire Christian horizon. Rather than establishing what is and is not 'orthodox,' McLaren walks through the many traditions of faith, bringing to the center a way of life that draws us closer to Christ and to each other. Whether you find yourself inside, outside, or somewhere on the fringe of Christianity, A Generous Orthodoxy draws you toward a way of living that looks beyond the 'us/them' paradigm to the blessed and ancient paradox of 'we.'

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:43 -0400)

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