A New Kind of Chris
I finished A New Kind of Christian last night. Typically, when I'm having a conversation with a person and I discover they have recently read/watched/visited something, I often ask one of two questions: "Did you like it?" (implying my interest in whether or not I might like it) or "What did you think?" (implying I have already formed some sort of opinion whether or not I have read/watched/visited this thing for myself. I have answers for both these questions. Sort of. And I will attempt to give them here. But first, a moment of confession...
This isn't a big confession, but is one none-the-less. As I read this book I found myself thinking, "thank you, God." The reason for this is that I found a book speaking to me exactly where I am, dealing with many of the exact same questions. I could feel myself sigh as I read, relaxing a bit, because someone out there had thought some of the same things. However, this also made me worried. Because, I realize how easy it is to not have our own ideas but adopt those of others. I found myself wondering if I talked about things I think about with other people, as I have been trying to do, if they would just think, "oh, Kinsley, you've just been reading too much McClaren." I worry about this because I have been accused of this very thing with regard to Brennan Manning when the truth is that I enjoy Manning because it spoke to where I was when I read him. That and I have found him to be the same personally as he is in his books. But why do I feel such a need to make sure you all don't think I'm just jumping on a bandwagon or accusing me of being trendy? There I go again looking for some of my identity in the approval of others. Boo!
Did I like A New Kind of Christian? There is no simple answer here. I obviously resonated with parts of it. I found it encouraging. McClaren wrote it as a work of fiction, though I'm not sure that was the best way to do it. He's not very good at that. So, I didn't "like" it as a novel. I also didn't "like" it because if he's right (which is a terrible way to think about it) then this is a very exciting and extremely terrifying time to be a Christian as the model/worldview/approach/practice changes into something new. But that's the same reason I did "like" it. It is somewhat new.
Another moment of confession... I shared the other day at lunch with Drew, Ronnie and Rick that my greatest fear is that God is going to do something great during my lifetime, and I'm going to miss out. Is this it? I don't know, but that's not the point. Because this is a fear of mine, it is a prime entry point for Evil to get to me, to make me question, doubt, or worse yet, subscribe to something completely not of God. I have to hope and pray that God hears my sincerity and trust that He'll work it out better than I can anyway. Besides, if the Holy spirit is fulfilling His role in my life, then I have the Helper with me who is guiding and convicitng me all along. I share this because Ronnie remarked that this fear might be every Christian's greatest fear. I'm not sure because I'm not sure that many of us think about things along those terms. But if it is, be careful.
I also found help with this from a sermon I heard Fred Craddock give one time. He talked about when he was a young Christian and minister that he thought he would get to be a martyr one day, give his all for God in the most dramatic way possible. However, this never came to pass. He realized that, if our lives is worth, say, $1 million, then some people get to write one large check to God (this is obviously a crude metaphor). Others, though, like Craddock himself, write $.79 here, $1.16 there, and so on. Perhaps, it is the same for us.
Now, what do I think about A New Kind of Christian? I don't have time and you don't want to read it. I think that McClaren is asking good questions. I think he walks a fine line in the parts where he discusses universalism, inclusivism, exclusivism and pluralism/relativism. I'm not sure he doesn't lean too far one way. I think he might only give lip service to not wanting to create another opportunity for in-grouping and out-grouping, when in fact, he does so with those who will move to postmodern Christianity and those who are too stuck in modernity. There we go with labels again. I think we could be friends if we met. I think I have a lot to think about.
I told Liza awhile back that I really want to start listening to the Holy Spirit. I think this is wrapped up in my getting to know Jesus. However, because of my struggles mentally and emotionally, I'm scared I will literally go insane and listen to voices in my head and such (don't you all hear voices too?) and that it could be another avenue for me to be led astray. I'm encouraged by this, though, becuase Evil at least has enough interest in me. I think if I weren't along the right path I might get left alone. But that's probably faulty. I don't know.
Thanks for the comments. You guys are helping. Sincerely, thank you.