I hesitate to post on Brian McLaren’s latest book, A New Kind of Christianity. My personal preference with books like this is often to ignore them, not giving them the attention they so desire. (After all, “controversy sells.”) But the book was published by a major publisher (HarperOne), and as of this morning it is #706 at Amazon.com. So people are going to read this book—a book that represents a significant attack on orthodox Christianity.
. . . it’s as if McLaren is screaming “I hate God!” at the top of his lungs. And swarms of Christians are looking at him with admiration and saying, “See how that guy loves God?” I don’t know what McLaren could do to make the situation more clear. . . . It is not a faith made in the image of Jesus Christ, but a faith made in the image of a man who despises God and who is hell-bent on dragging others along with him as he becomes his own god.
Harsh words? Kevin DeYoung essentially comes to the same conclusion, though he goes into much more detail. See his posts here, here, and here—or download his long (6,000+ word) review here as a PDF. I strongly encourage you to read the PDF. I’ve read the whole thing, and it is a model of charitable engagement—a beautiful example of how this sort of thing should be done. Kevin seeks to be fair, but is loving enough to tell the whole truth about the god that McLaren has created in his own image and his undermining of the biblical storyline.
Again, let me strongly encourage you to read Kevin’s entire review. Here is his conclusion:
The message of McLarenism is pretty simple: God is love and wants everyone to be kind and inclusive and care for the poor and the environment. This is what Jesus was like, and we should be like Jesus. This is, of course, not wrong in so far as it goes. The Liberal/McLaren emphasis on the kingdom is right, their concern for the “other” is right, much of their ethics is right. But McLarenism, like liberalism, cannot be right. It has its emphases all out of proportion, its right statements thrown out of whack by all that is missing. In McLarenism there is no original sin, no wrath, no hell, no creation-fall-redemption, no definite future, no second coming that I can see, no clear statement on the deity of Christ, no mention of vicarious substitution or God’s holiness or divine sovereignty, no ethical demands except as they relate to being kind to others, no God-offendedness, no doctrine of justification, no unchanging apostolic deposit of truth, no absolute submission to the word of God, nary a mention of faith and worship, no doctrine of regeneration, no evangelistic impulse to save the lost, and nothing about God’s passion for his glory. This is surely a lot to leave out.
McLaren’s Christianity is not new and certainly not improved. I don’t believe you can even call it Christianity. It is liberalism dressed up for the 21st century. We can only hope this wave of liberalism fades as dramatically as did the last.