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May 09, 2005

A Provocative Trilogy

I have not been able to get my hands on a copy of Brian McLaren's latest book "The Last Word and the Word after That", which is the third in a series (the first two being "A New Kind of Christian" and the second "The Story We Find Ourselves In"). These works have provoked my thinking, particularly in relation to church and culture. Written in the form of a novel rather than the more traditional approach (much in the same manner as C S Lewis' Screwtape Letters) McLaren unfolds a dialogue which exists in the minds of many church leaders and christians, at least in the West.

I have managed to download a copy of one chapter of the latest book, which will have to suffice until I can import one... Let, me offer a quote:

"From beginning to end... our faith is situated. It's an unfolding story, and every story requires a setting. It's news -

and not just news that happened but news that's still happening, and that means it requires a context. It's an ongoing movement and message that always takes place in a medium. It's all about incarnation - about God entering and embracing our story. So if you want to abandon the story, if you want to get out of time and culture and into some timeless zone above the fray, you're trying to get out of the very thing that God is deeply into. Maybe some other religion or philosophy can deal with timelessness, but not real Christianity. It's forever timely, not timeless." (p. 15)

McLaren has provoked a modicum of controversy with these books. The first with its perspective on other faiths, the second in its attitude to evolution, and the third in relation to heaven and hell.

I don't necessarily agree with the answers that McLaren suggests in the book, but the questions are clearly worth grappling with.

Posted by gary at May 9, 2005 02:15 PM


I just read McLaren's book A Generous Orthodoxy which was very refreshing and liberating, but have not read any of his trilogy. Re the quote, I think we need to recover a sense of the glory of being local. As the church gets more globalised and a fast food approach to church style spreads, we need a local theology, local preaching style, involvement in local community issues and projects and to see our members' daily work as the chief mission of the church.

Posted by: Geoff Leslie at May 10, 2005 05:15 PM

McLaren's perspectives have been bold inasmuch as he is prepared to ask questions and explore alternatives from all angles. Your observations about the importance of being local are well-made, and a challenge - particularly in hilding that balance between learning on the global stage and implementing on the local.

McLaren is due in Melbourne next year - I have tentatively booked him for a Rev Up.

Posted by: gary at May 10, 2005 06:30 PM

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