Read previous posts in this series:
- The Narrative Question
- The Authority Question
- The God Question
- The Jesus Question
- The Gospel Question
Up to this point in A New Kind of Christianity, McLaren has tackled what we might consider abstract questions. He has questioned the underlying belief structure of what he considers to be a Platonic, incomplete message. Now he turns his attention to the active structure of faith – the church.
For the most part, I agreed with McLaren’s assessment of the problems of the church in his work Church on the Other Side and I agree with his assessment here as well. The Church has become divided along so many lines but none so difficult to understand as the lines of organization and administration. All of these divisions pit the churches against one another rather than humbling embracing the diversity that makes the Church such a vibrant, powerful force in the world.
In another book that I am reading – Radical by David Platt – the author looks at the Church and says that every church should be socially conscious, going to Haiti or New Orleans or wherever and feeling guilty if you don’t. I prefer McLaren’s perspective – that different churches do different stuff and that’s ok.
Additionally, McLaren points out that the church is not itself the solution to anything – not the way we understand church as an institution anyway. The church is, instead, a network of relationships into which the Holy Spirit injects people – with all their talents and flaws – and calls them to work together for the glory of God.
I would say it was the best chapter in the book. This is where I think McLaren excels anyway – when addressing the problems the modern church has created for itself. Allow me to conclude with his conclusion:
The one grand calling, I suggest, tells us what the church most truly is: it is a space in which the Spirit works for form Christlike people, and it is the space in which human beings, formed in Christlike love, cooperate with the Spirit and one another to express that love in word and deed, art and action.
If only I knew for sure that he means what I took him to mean…which, with McLaren is hard to say.