A Review Of “A Generous Orthodoxy” By Brian D. McLaren -- By: Thomas A. Howe

Journal: Christian Apologetics Journal
Volume: CAJ 07:1 (Spring 2008)
Article: A Review Of “A Generous Orthodoxy” By Brian D. McLaren
Author: Thomas A. Howe


A Review Of “A Generous Orthodoxy” By Brian D. McLaren

Thomas A. Howe, Ph.D.

Thomas A. Howe is Professor of Bible and Biblical Languages at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC

Brian McLaren opens his book by addressing the various kinds of readers who might be reading the book. One kind of reader he addresses is the one who “may be looking for dirt so you can write a hostile review.”1 This is, of course, a preemptive strike to ward off any serious review of his book. Anyone who has anything negative to say is simply “looking for dirt” so that he can “write a hostile review.” McLaren has poisoned the well for anyone who might want to make an honest, critical evaluation. Anyone who disagrees with him is classified as a “proud, super protestant, hyper puritan, ultra restorationist reformer” who says, “Only we’ve got it right!” (19). Apparently

McLaren thinks that only he has it right about those boring, dreary, Christians who think only they have it right, and he “damns everyone else” to “below-average mediocrity” (19). Anyone who might want to discuss theology is dismissed by McLaren as engaging in “nauseating arguments” (19). For a group that is supposed to be tolerant, he certainly shows a lack of tolerance with those kinds of Christians who do not see things his way.

The Seven Jesuses I Have Known

McLaren begins this chapter with the statement, “I am a Christian because I have a sustained and sustaining confidence in Jesus Christ” (43). This statement is sufficiently ambiguous so as to prevent any substantive analysis but at the same time to forestall an outright rejection. His next statement, however, should cause the reader to pause: “I’ve lost and rediscovered that confidence a few times …” (43). If it is the case that McLaren is a Christian because of his confidence in Christ, but he has lost that confidence at times, does it follow that he ceased being a Christian at those times? And, does this imply a belief that one can loose his salvation? Again, the statements are sufficiently ambiguous to forestall any substantive conclusions.

I realize that it is just my tendency to be “modern” and too much of an analytic philosopher, but it bothers me that in his description of the Sunday School picture of Jesus, with children of all races gathered around Him and how this was no doubt not historically accurate, McLaren says, “But in a way the [Sunday School] picture was even truer than a historically accurate picture would have been” (43). Actually, this is not an accurate way to say this. I am sure what he means to say is the Sunday ...

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