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Law Bob Esq.

I think perhaps this book, which I am confident to comment upon having not read a single page, is not unlike most of the other books on the "christian" bookshelf at the local W.H.Smiths Bookstore. It is snake oil for people suffering from pop christianity. Think about it. Someone comes up to you on the street and begins describing the little aches & pains you're feeling. The truth is most folks feel that way sometimes. Then he offers you the "cure" for only $19.95. OR someone walks up to you and describes all the problems your church is having. The truth is most churches are having these problems righ tnow. Then he offers you yet another book full of things you have to do to get right with god.

There's no money to be made it telling someone they're already made right with God, and that no effort on their part is required. That kind of thinking tends to make people less interested buying self help books.


Law Bob,
I think, generally speaking, you are very much right about the "self-help" Christian market. I'm not so sure McClaren necessarily fits in this category. I think he is trying to do something genuinely different. He just spends too much time pandering to people that don't really want to have the conversation in the first place. Me, I say screw em'. Lets move on. I'm not sure if your a universalist or not, but you kind of sound like it. Its nice to hear universalist mentality, most of the time.


I've only read the reviews on Amazon, but it sounds like his scope is too narrow. The sides he's looking to reconcile seem to be exemplars of Western Christianity. This parallels the efforts of the 19th-century Restoration movement(s) to undo the social, political and religious fragmentation of American Christianity that occurred in the wake of widespread religious liberty, which in itself wasn't bad, except that their platform was that they were trying to find a common ground for all of Christianity when in fact they were only concerned with (possibly because they were only aware of) the variants of Christianity common to the West--Catholicism, Protestantism and their descendants. Just as it had been for more than a thousand years, there was no concern for what people on the other side of the East-West divide thought.

Eastern Christians tend to take a dim view of American Christianity, and that includes post-evangelicals like McClaren just as much as it does mainstream evangelicals and fundamentalists. They usually think the categories are completely wrong. *That* is the kind of conversation that would be useful--a substantive, cross-cultural dialogue between everyone who considers themselves Christians. Any proposed resolution that ends up at some kind of American status quo isn't going to be widely useful.


The problem I'm seeing with myself and most of the people that I know and like, is that we are hybrids of both traditional Christianity and secular humanism. We all grew up in church, but now we're dissatisfied with what the church does because it fails to live up to the vision that we all see in Christ. Because of this dissatisfaction we are attracted in various ways to the ideas of secular humanism because it discards all the mystical handwaving that has replaced actual Christ-like living in the church and focusses on the humanitarianism and virtue-building that we are all attracted to. Unfortunately, secular humanism simply doesn't make any room for our continued attachment (or faith if you will) to some of the mystical elements of our respective churchly pasts. So we end up as a few clusters of wandering souls who don't belong anywhere.

I think McClaren fits this model to some extent, but the type of dialogue that he proposes holds out hope that he may someday be reconciled with his lost community. Unfortunately, I don't see any such reconciliation as possible for people who are committed to the dustier parts of the gospel that mainstream churches have abandonned. Finally I think we all just need to find each other and live as the Church wherever we can. Occasionally there will be traditional congregations where this is possible, but mostly I think it will require smaller, impromptu communities of relatively like-minded people trying to love each other individually and love the world corporately.

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