A Generous Orthodoxy, Brian D. McLaren
Emergent-church author Brian D. McLaren has succeeded in writing a book capable of making everybody angry. (He gives fair and ample warning in Chapter 0. How many books have you read with a Chapter 0?) Many times, apart from the occasional urge to scream, it seemed the only suitable response was to let out a long, low whistle and shake my head. If you don’t find this book controversial, you should have your pulse checked.
Sticking to my belief that it is generally best to give the bad news first, I will now register my concerns with the complaint department. I was unimpressed with the writing, my favorite parts of the book being the quotes from G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. While not necessarily corny and conversational, the book seems rather unskillful—likely in an attempt to be vulnerable (which, incidentally, it is). (I admit that my incessant critiques of writing are perhaps unqualified, having never written a book myself; I have, however, read a number of them, and I fancy that this has earned me something of an honorary degree in literary criticism.)
I was confused over why the Anabaptists were represented (in part) by the Amish and grouped with the Anglicans, as neither association seems accurate. I also thought (as he told me I would) that he was, on the whole, too generous with the Catholics. I would be diligent to maintain a safe distance from any Calvinist reading Chapter 12.
There is an acute need for balance in these types of issues. The Gospel is like a kite: you want it to take the air and soar, as it is designed to, but if you let go you may lose sight of it altogether. This is the balance that this book boldly confronts, occasionally, in my view, erring on the side of letting go.
On the sunny side, I very much feel that McLaren has succeeded as a ragamuffin penster, much like Brennan Manning, and, if Rich were still around, I’m confident he’d be excited. (Being as he is on the other side, he’s probably writing one of the back cover endorsements for the celestial edition.) While no one will agree with all of it, and perhaps only a few even with most of it, this is not a book I should like to have the task to refute.