A good friend of mine once told me, “When you eat a watermelon, you spit out the seeds.” I’ve never read anything by Brian McLaren before and Finding Our Way Again is the watermelon that I picked. Truthfully McLaren and guys/gals like him don’t write the things I typically read. In reading this book I’ve reaffirmed why I don’t typically read guys in the “emergent” camp, but at the same time given myself some affirmation to read them.
McLaren’s book is a book on Spiritual disciplines of sorts. He seeks to show that a pious lifestyle is indeed a religious one. (Most people cringe when you call Christianity a religion. It is.) A Christian life consists of religious practices. McLaren introduces us to the practices of Christ the Lord and the Apostles as he sees them. One of the things that McLaren does well is that he shows the communal centrality of the Christian life and the practices thereof. I appreciate his emphasis on the liturgical aspect of Christianity, even if you don’t think you have a liturgy McLaren rightfully shows that we all do. We all have set worship practices. Not only are this practices communal within the community of faith they also are communal with God. The ideas expressed in the book aren’t to just give the religious more items of practice to become more religious. I believe McLaren genuinely desires for his readers to have a deeper relationship with God by following ancient practices. The book is worth reading to pick up on some of these practices and understand the communion between God and his people in their day to day religious practices. The edible parts of this melon might not be the sweetest in the world, but they’re edible nevertheless.
But with every watermelon, even the ‘seedless’ ones (you know those little white ones that aren’t fully developed that come in the ‘seedless’ ones you buy once a year on the 4th of July), there are seeds. I’m fearful in reading McLaren in where he truly comes down on some issues. On more than one occasion I wonder where McLaren truly stands on the exclusivity of the gospel. It appears at times that an Abrahamic monotheism is sufficient piety in the eyes of God and that those that practice Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are all of the same brotherhood. Shared practices we may have, parts of our world-views may be shared, but we do not all worship the one true living God. There are also times when you read the book that I wonder if McLaren is flirting with pantheism. Beware reader of these things. I wouldn’t recommend this book to those who are new to the faith or have plenty of other things to read. There are far too many things of much more profit for your soul than what can be found in this volume.
In full disclosure, I am a Book Review Blogger who participates in the ThomasNelson “BookSneeze” program. I received this book for free, in exchange of an honest review.