A New Kind of Christianity: more responses

I really appreciate it when folks feel free to say “I don’t agree with you on everything” – but still can say that they gained something from my new book. That’s how I feel when I read others’ books: I never expect to agree with anyone on everything – I’m just glad when I can learn, be challenged, have my imagination stretched in some way.

I wanted to thank you for a New Kind of Christianity. Though I don’t agree with you on everything, this book really encouraged me. I have taken many things to heart and used them recently in my own ministry and seen many lives changed while the conversation opened. Also, I have used many of your thoughts on yahoo answers and received incredible feedback on how well people like the answers. I guess because my name isn’t Brian Mclaren the views are okay! (though I have been mass attacked by fundamentalists) Many people that are trying to find faith have been encouraged by what I have written and the credit goes all to you. Thanks again for writing this book. You have definitely impacted my life and ministry towards others.

Another reader writes:

I just want to tell you I appreciate the new book. I came out of the International Churches of Christ about seven years ago and you books have been a great help in my journey. Don’t let the negative stuff get you down. Many people don’t have the courage to say what they really believe. I believe you’re doing a good work.

The next writer overestimates how many emails I get … but I’m always grateful to get emails like this:

I basically never comment on blogs or write to authors, or write letters to editors, etc., but I felt somewhat compelled to email you regarding your book A New Kind of Christianity, even though I figure you have to get multiple hundreds of emails a day.
I bought this book on the day it was released based upon the emergent church net buzz surrounding it. I anticipated a cogent and comprehensive discussion of “what’s next” for Christianity, having recently finished Phylis Tickle’s book The Great Emergence. However, to be frank, in the days leading up to its release and in the days immediately following, there were so many acrimonious posts going back and forth from all camps that I was a bit turned off to the whole scene. So, I let it sit on my desk, afraid to read it, worried that it would not be what I was hoping for, but instead that it would be mostly a rant against the religious establishment.
Early this week, I saw an acquaintance carrying the book around, so I decided to at least flip through it so I could intelligently discuss it with him. In short, I consumed the majority of the book in about 8 hours of reading over two days. I was delighted to see many of my big questions thrown out on the table for discussion without fear, and without accusation. I can imagine the current firestorm surrounding many of the topics, but I found nothing in the writing style that should set open minded people off, only those with dogma to deconstruct.
So, coming from a fundamentalist, discipleship, evangelical, spirit filled, dogmatic background, I say, kudos to you for trying to start a dialog. In the past several years I have deconstructed my entire theology and now I have all this stuff laying all over the floor so to speak, and I am trying to put it back together in some sort of order. I will have to say however, that as I read the book, cognizant of my own unique (and unabashedly sympathetic) perspective, I could see how many mainstream Christians will never make it past their dogma. 10 years or less ago, I would have burned the book and cried “heretic” myself.
The game changer in my life that has lead me away from fundamentalism was the grace filled realization that the Gospel, the Good News, was primarily and significantly that God loves us. Just as we are and not as we should be. And the entire Bible narrative, including the incarnation, is about God trying to tell us this. With this as a backdrop, when you ask the question, “is God violent”, in light of many of the old testament stories, you have to question the interpretation of those stories instead of assume that God by nature a) has enemies he hates; b) kicks their butt on a regular basis; and c) encourages us to do the same.
Hopefully I have provided some encouragement. Thanks for writing.

Yes, this does provide encouragement, and I am thankful to you for writing. Perhaps some of the sincere folks who are crying “heretic” and burning the book now will similarly feel differently in ten years. A hopeful thought!