I picked up this book with extreme trepidation. I read many negative reviews on this book. More negative than positive for sure.
I felt like McLaren was trying to pick a fight with his title. In fact, my wife barely made it through the introduction. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the introduction. You be the judge:
The word orthodoxy means “straight thinking” or “right opinion.” The last thing I want to get into is nauseating arguments about why this or that form of theology (dispensational, covenant, charismatic, whatever) or methodology (cell church, megachurch, liturgical church, seeker church, blah, blah, blah) is right (meaning approaching or achieving timeless technical perfection). Hence the important adjective generous in the title of this book.
If I seem to show too little respect for your opinions or thought, be assured I have equal doubts about my own, and I don’t mind if you think I’m wrong. I’m sure I am wrong about many things, although I’m not sure exactly which things I’m wrong about. I’m even sure I’m wrong about what I think I’m right about in at least some cases. So whenever you think I’m wrong, you could be right. If, in the process of determining that I’m wrong, you are stimulated to think more deeply and broadly, I hope that I will have somehow served you anyway.
The beautiful and charming Susan felt that if it started out that way, she just didn’t have time for it. I’m glad I hung in there and began to get a picture of where on earth this guy was coming from. I will say that books like this give you permission to think.
McLaren takes readers for a tour through church history past and helps us to sit in on the discussions, observe the culture and understand some of the politics surrounding the shaping of the Church in her many expressions of faith and witness. He brings us right up into church history present to give us some ideas of what may be emerging as the church's future expression of faith in Christ and our witness in the world. It's actually a pretty facinating read and left me feeling excited and hopeful.
This book is good for theologians and non-theologians alike. I think non-theologians have the most fun with it. My favorite quote in the book goes like this:
In Christian theology, this anti-emergent thinking is expressed in systematic theologies that claim (overtly, covertly, or unconsciously) to have final orthodoxy nailed down, freeze-dried, and shrink-wrapped for ever.
Theologians won’t have as much fun with this book as the rest of us. If you really want to make a theologian mad, have him click here.