The Last Word and the Word after that

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Finally, I got the final book of the New Kind of Christian trilogy by Brian McLaren … in fact it was the only copy I could get after calling one of the managers at the bookstore. Apparently, there were only two copies brought in (to test the market?) but when Gareth and I arrived there was only one 😛

I’m already into p. 125, and I wish I could just go on. But I need to sleep because I’m speaking at a seminary chapel tomorrow. And I hope to do well and have a focused mind *grin*. Brian’s book is a little distracting on this account. It’s been a good read so far. And I actually started glancing through the commentary at the end of the book which i think is a fabulous idea. I wish the earlier two books did the same.

I found Brian’s words in his website noteworthy before the book came out:

“I’m excited about it … and a little nervous. Yes, it’s going to hurt my reputation with some people, and yes, it will be controversial and frequently misunderstood. And yes, I’ve been a bit anxious about that
– but at the moment, I’m less anxious and more excited.

… I hope you’ll enjoy the book when it comes out. Remember – my goal isn’t to make you think the same way I do: I’ll just be happy if the book makes you think. I have loads of respect for others who don’t reach the same conclusions I do – and I hope they’ll be able to do the same for me. At the end of the day, if people experience increased energy to love God and their neighbors, that matters most.

And if the status quo is destabilized so something better can shake loose … thanks be to God.”

Amongst all of Brian’s books I read, I enjoy the trilogy because of the kind of space this “creative fiction” allows in one’s mind and imagination to explore often very serious topics and deep concerns. I also enjoy a kind of child-like playfulness in a sense that’s often lost when we explore theological concepts. Sometimes (not all the time) this is necessary for us to get closer to the truth of the matter. So I decided to recruit baby Elysia and Gareth for two photos …

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Well, as I mentioned before I don’t necessary agree with all the details in Brian’s books … but I appreciate the questions he raises and proposals he offers. At least they give me some space to begin working out my own answers. I’ve always found him a great conversation partner.

I’ll just leave you tonight with some paragraphs from the introduction that caught my attention and as usual let Brian speak for himself … thanks my friend *grin* for this accesible effort.

“As I see it, more significant that any doctrine of hell itself is the view of God of which one’s doctrine of hell contributes. William Temple once said that if your concept of God is radically false, the more devoted you are, the worse off you will be. So this book is in the end more about our view of God than it is about our understandings of hell. What kind of God do we believe exists? What kind of life should we live in response? How does our view of God affect the way we see and treat other people? And how does the way we see and treat other people affect our view of God?” (p. xii)

“At any rate, at heart this book is about the goodness of God and the life with God. This means is is about the gospel and about justice and mercy and a new way of understanding their relationship — suggesting that God’s justice is always merciful and God’s mercy is always just. This book flows from the hunch that the heart disease afflicting the Christian community is chronic and serious rather than cosmetic: deep in our hearts, we don’t fully love God because we are not fully confident that God is fully good.” (p. xiv)

“The word destructive is often associated with the word deconstructive but the association is erroneous. Deconstruction is not destruction; it is hope. It arises from the belief that sometimes, our constructed laws get in the way of unseen justice, our underdeconstructed words get in the way of communication, our institutions get in the way of the purposes for which they were constructed, our formulations get in the way of meaning, our curricula get in the way of learning. In those cases, one must deconstruct laws, words, institutions, formulations, or curricula in the hope that something better will appear once the constructions-become-obstructions have been taken apart. The love of what is hidden, as yet unseen, and the hoped for gives one courage to deconstruct what is seen and familiar. This book, in a sense, attempts to deconstruct our conventional concepts of hell in the sincere hope that a better vision of the gospel of Jesus Christ will appear.” (p. xvii)

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