This is going to be my concluding post (unless of course I think of something totally awesome to say later on) on McLaren’s A New Kind of Christianity. In the end I think I was underwhelmed by the book from the time it set up Plato as the root of everything that’s wrong with Christianity. It’s not even that I particularly buy into the notion of Platonic ideals (I actually found Robert Pirsig’s critique of Plato rather insightful), but once McLaren sets up “Greco-Roman” dualism and portrays it (dualistically, I might add) as everything that’s wrong with the church, the book is irreparably wrecked for me.
This is a shame because it would be helpful to have a popular-level public discussion about many of the topics in this book – if for no other reason than that it would engage many more people in really learning about their faith. Instead the discussion has generated far more heat than light. Some of the things that McLaren said that I find fairly uncontroversial have been drawn into the morass that is the criticism back and forth about this book. I mean his comments about reading the bible from a Jewish perspective and recognizing that it is a mixture of literary genres both strike me as just plain common sense. I am sympathetic towards a lot of what McLaren says, but the way he says it, his philosophical underpinnings are so unsound that he makes good topics of discussion suddenly disreputable.