asking a favor of all readers of my books …

I imagine that critical reviews on the new book and its author will heat up in the coming weeks. Can I ask everyone who appreciates what I’m trying to do to help me avoid unhelpful responses to criticism? Please – even if you think someone is being unfair or uncharitable to the book or its author, try to be kind in your response, if you respond at all.
What would probably help the cause and message of the book the most would be to avoid criticizing the reviewer in any way, calling them “judgmental,” “negative,” etc., etc. They’ll probably interpret this as you being judgmental and negative. Instead, you can share your more positive response to the book and why you think it has some value. Simply saying, “I respond to the book differently …”
Then you might say, “OK, I can see that you don’t like McLaren’s response to the authority question (or whatever). How would you answer the question?” Then, you can try to model in your response to their answer (if you don’t find it terribly satisfying) what you wish they had modeled in their response to mine.
It might help to remember that for some people, “hot” responses, including hell-fire and damnation language and demonization, aren’t intended to be as mean-spirited as they sound to the rest of us. That’s just the traditional way that religious conversations take place in certain religious tribes. If you criticize their traditional way of communicating, they’ll tend to treat you to a dose of it, which won’t be pleasant for you, and which will only reinforce those communication habits in them. We really have the chance to grow and practice some new ways of communication in this milieu … may God’s Spirit help us make the most of the opportunity.
If you’d like to read more about responding to harsh criticism, Andrew Sullivan links to some good advice here.