McLaren, Brian D. 1956-
McLAREN, Brian D. 1956-
Born 1956; married; wife's name Grace; children: four. Education: University of Maryland, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1978, M.A., 1981. Hobbies and other interests: Ecology, fishing, hiking, kayaking, camping, songwriting, music, art, and literature.
Office—Cedar Ridge Community Church, 2410 Spencerville Road, Spencerville, MD 20868.
Cedar Ridge Community Church, Spencerville, MD, founding minister, 1986—. International Teams, former board chair; Mars Hill Graduate School, former board member; theooze.com Web site, former board member.
Off the Map (board member), Emergent (fellow).
Award of Merit, Christianity Today, 2002, for A New Kind of Christian.
Reinventing Your Church, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1998.
Finding Faith: A Self-Discovery Guide for Your Spiritual Quest, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1999.
A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 2001.
More Ready Than You Realize: Evangelism As Dance in the Postmodern Matrix, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2002.
(With Tony Campolo) Adventures in Missing the Point: How the Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel, Emergent/YS (El Cajon, CA), 2003.
The Story We Find Ourselves In: Further Adventures of a New Kind of Christian, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 2003.
(With Leonard Sweet and Jerry Haselmayer) "A" Is for Abductive: The Language of the Emerging Church, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2003.
A Generous Orthodoxy: 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, Youth Specialties (El Cajon, CA), 2004.
Also author of numerous articles for periodicals.
Brian D. McLaren is the author of numerous books about living as a Christian in an increasingly postmodern world. His books have two overarching themes: that Christians should think more critically about their beliefs, and that they should be willing to adapt their beliefs and evangelism techniques to the postmodern age.
Perhaps his best-known and most controversial book is A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey. The book is written as a dialogue between Neo, a postmodern Christian who has left the ministry, and Dan, a traditional evangelical minister who is burned out yet still fears the types of changes in the church that Neo proposes. The two constantly, openly, and honestly question the entirety of the modern evangelical movement. This questioning atmosphere was the source of both the book's popularity and its attendant controversy. Glenn T. Stanton explained in Christianity Today, "Some will find the discussion hopeful and comforting, glad to hear others articulating what is often held privately. Others will be unsettled that some of the questions are raised at all."
Indeed, in A New Kind of Christian McLaren calls into question many of the deeply held beliefs of traditional evangelicals. McLaren suggests "that evangelicalism, a reform movement with a profound impact, has itself hardened into an establishment deeply in need of reform," noted Tony Jones in Books and Culture. McLaren further believes that reform needs to come not only in the methods that evangelicals use to reach out to non-Christians, but in the message that they seek to spread. To McLaren, Christianity as practiced today is deeply rooted in the dying modernist tradition and needs to be reimagined to be relevant in postmodern times, just as the original Protestants reformed their church from a medieval to a postmedieval movement. As McLaren wrote in A New Kind of Christian, "It's a hopeful book … for people who ask, 'Can I still call myself a Christian if I don't buy the whole package of what many call Christianity today, which includes a lot of modernity and has little to do with authentic Christianity?'"
Neo and Dan return in the sequel, The Story We Find Ourselves In: Further Adventures of a New Kind of Christian. "Like the first volume, this book offers an excellent opportunity for Christians to rethink why they believe what they believe," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. As in A New Kind of Christian, McLaren makes his points through fictional dialogues, but instead of Neo and Dan conversing with each other, this time they talk with various others who have questions about faith.
Adventures in Missing the Point: How the Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel is also a dialogue, but this time a real-life one between McLaren and Tony Campolo, another notable Christian author. Each chapter is devoted to one question or controversy, with one author setting out his beliefs about it and the other responding. "The writing is lively," thought a Publishers Weekly contributor, and McLaren and Campolo "aren't afraid to disagree with each other." Likewise, Booklist reviewer Ray Olson called the book "compelling," although he thought that "McLaren and Compolo always agree that too many evangelicals miss the Christian point."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
McLaren, Brian D., A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 2001.
Booklist, February 1, 2003, Ray Olson, review of Adventures in Missing the Point: How the Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel, p. 959.
Books and Culture, January-February, 2002, Andy Crouch, review of A New Kind of Christian, p. 12; March-April, 2002, Mark Dever, review of A New Kind of Christian, p. 26-27; May-June, 2002, Tony Jones, review of A New Kind of Christian, p. 32, Brian D. McLaren, "Faithfully Dangerous: Christians in Postmodern Times," p. 33.
Christianity Today, June 10, 2002, Glenn T. Stanton, review of A New Kind of Christian, pp. 53-54; March, 2003, Cindy Crosby, review of The Story We Find Ourselves In: Further Adventures of a New Kind of Christian, p. 78.
Leadership (Carol Stream, IL), summer, 2002, review of More Ready Than You Realize: Evangelism As Dance in the Postmodern Matrix, p. 93; winter, 2002, John Brunette, review of A New Kind of Christian, p. 113; winter, 2003, Carmen DiCello, review of "A" Is for Abductive: The Language of the Emerging Church, p. 101.
Library Journal, June 1, 2001, Eugene O. Bowser, review of A New Kind of Christian, p. 172.
Presbyterian Record, June, 2002, John Congram, review of A New Kind of Christian, p. 44.
Publishers Weekly, January 27, 2003, review of Adventures in Missing the Point, p. 254; February 3, 2003, review of The Story We Find Ourselves In, pp. 54-55.
A New Kind of Christian Web site,http://www.anewkindofchristian.com/ (June 18, 2004).*