Recently, someone sent to me via e-mail a review of Brian McLaren‘s new book, “A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith” (HarperOne). The review is, Anthony B. Robinson is president of Congregational Leadership Northwest.
The reviewer talks about the pertinence of the book and McLaren’s thoughts for American Evangelicalism, though he says there may be less pertinence for mainline or progressive denominations/Christians. He explains why in this paragraph:
But when the audience is, as I suspect it often will be, mainline or self-described progressive Christians, I’m less sure that McLaren’s message is the thing that’s needed. The tendency in mainline or progressive circles has long been to say that the problem is outdated, outmoded Christianity. The project has been to redo theology, revise language and creed, update imagery and practice, all with the idea that if we can just make Christianity fit into our present world, all will be well. In a fair number of churches this revisionist project has gone on for so long that there simply isn’t much left to revise–or to sustain the dwindling numbers of the faithful. Where this updating project has so long prevailed, a slightly altered version of Shakespeare’s line from Julius Caesar may be apt: the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our paradigms, it is in ourselves, that we are sinners.
This is, I think, one of the best descriptions of the plight of the mainline churches and progressive Christianity in general.
This is where something of a reforming nature must be said to “progressive” Christians in places like my own Church. The substance and core of the faith is Jesus Christ and our drawing close to Him. “A New Kind of Christianity” is really very old and is that which has endured for millennia within the living Tradition. The reform of the progressive Church will rest in the recognition that to progress is to the returning.