Brian McLaren, the sometimes controversial emergent-church leader whose new book, A New Kind of Christianity, is really stirring up some elements of the church, will be speaking at the Ecumenical Institute of Theology of St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore, my institution, this coming Monday.
He will be giving an all-day seminar entitled “Worship as Spiritual Formation and Preparation for Mission” and then, at 7:30 in the evening, a free public lecture entitled “The Gospel, the Postmodern Conversation, and the Church that is Emerging.” The seminar is quite full (on-site registration is possible, but it will not include lunch), but there should be plenty of room Monday evening.
Brian McLaren is a friend of mine, and he comes at my invitation. That does not mean I agree with everything he says. (I don’t agree with everything anyone says.) I have not yet read his new book, and I may find it troubling. I don’t know. But Brian is nothing if not two things: sensitive to postmodern culture and serious about understanding the meaning and consequences of the gospel.
Is he a theologian? Technically, no. Does he need some theological guidance? Probably. (We all do.) Does that make him a heretic?
Yesterday the President and four faculty members from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary held a critical discussion of the book. Whatever you think of Brian McLaren, if you watch this video, you might want to ponder some questions about the nature of a panel book review (this one or any other):
1. Do the panelists attempt to summarize the content, argument, and purpose of the book objectively?
2. Is there diversity of perspective among the panelists?
3. Does the moderator moderate or dominate?
4. Is the tone of the panel appropriate to its context and function?
In any event, if you are in the Baltimore area, come on out Monday night!