My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is intended to be a guide for those who are seeking something spiritually, no matter what faith, but yes, primarily Christianity. It’s a little light (especially for McLaren), but the contents are pretty solid and the book is quite accessible. Some of the chapters deal with experiencing God through doubt (a big one for me), why church is often the last place to look for spiritual guidance, why people don’t turn to Bibles in their spiritual search, losing interest, and more. One of the things McLaren writes in the doubt chapter really stood out for me:
“They say that the opposite of love isn’t hate; it is rather indifference. And I have to think that the same is true of faith. Doubt isn’t a spiritual danger sign nearly as much as indifference would be.”
In the final chapter, McLaren writes that Jesus was “scandalously inclusive” and that
“In a world of religious in-groups and out-groups, Jesus created a ‘come on in’ group. The kingdom of God is open to everyone who will come…. It’s like a party to which everyone is invited, rich or poor, employed or unemployed, clear or dirty.”
That section of the book really stood out for me because when I was growing up, the various youth groups in school and church “rushed” (like the fraternity allusion?) the popular kids with the alleged goal of the unpopular kids following the popular kids to God. Yeah, right. It was a total joke. I rode the fence between popular and unpopular and I didn’t like it. As an adult, many churches I’ve been to seem little different. We want the “beautiful people” — those in real need don’t need to come on in. I hate that about mainstream Christianity. Jesus was all about love and inclusive love. In fact, he hung out with hookers and outcasts and told the Moral Majority of his day that the scumbags he was with would have an easier time of entering heaven than they would. (That didn’t go over too well with them.) So, I like what McLaren writes here. I just wish more actual church people would read and realize this….
The book’s chapters all end with interesting discussion questions and a suggested prayer. McLaren tries to stick to guidance, not to telling — as in, he’s not the authority on this, God is. It’s not the best book I’ve read, and it’s not for everyone, but I found it worthwhile and others will too.