Q & R: on Kevin DeYoung

Here’s the Q:

Hello. Just wondering what you may think (if you’re aware of it) of Kevin DeYoung’s review of your book A New Kind of Christianity:

Here’s the R:

Thanks for your question. I read Kevin DeYoung’s review of my book shortly after it first appeared, and briefly considered writing a response to it. It is clear he read my book (which isn’t always the case with online reviewers!) and that he read it closely. It is passionate and articulate, and it accurately reflects Kevin’s views. Although I can’t recommend it as a fair engagement with me or my work, I can recommend it as an example of a certain kind of rhetoric that is common, acceptable, and even celebrated in many religious communities. It started off (excepting the title) quite promising:

I want to be fair with McLaren. I want to understand his ideas and evaluate them based on their merits. If I misunderstand a point or misconstrue what McLaren teaches I want to be corrected. Further, I have no desire to engage in ad hominem attacks. I want to discuss McLaren’s theology without vitriol or sophomoric putdowns. I will not assume the worst about Brian McLaren. I will try not to say anything in the cozy confines of the blogosphere that I would not say sitting across from McLaren over a beverage of his choice…. No one deserves to be reviled.

Unfortunately, what followed seemed to lapse quickly and consistently into what Kevin said he wanted to avoid. Now speaking with some empathy as a fellow writer, it is very hard to be fair with writings you think “deserve to be pilloried” (Kevin’s words). I’ve found that to be the case when I write, and it seems to be the case with Kevin as well, so we as frail and fallible human beings have this in common. May God have mercy on us all!