Generous Orthodoxy, A

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2006-02-01
  • Publisher: HARPERCOLLINS

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Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, catholic, green, incarnational, depressed- yet hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian. A confession and manifesto from a senior leader in the emerging church movement. A Generous Orthodoxycalls for a radical, Christ-centered orthodoxy of faith and practice in a missional, generous spirit. Brian McLaren argues for a post-liberal, post-conservative, postprotestant convergence, which will stimulate lively interest and global conversation among thoughtful Christians from all traditions. In a sweeping exploration of belief, author Brian McLaren takes us across the landscape of faith, envisioning an orthodoxy that aims for Jesus, is driven by love, and is defined by missional intent. A Generous Orthodoxy rediscovers the mysterious and compelling ways that Jesus can be embraced across the entire Christian horizon. Rather than establishing what is and is not "orthodox," McLaren walks through the many traditions of faith, bringing to the center a way of life that draws us closer to Christ and to each other. Whether you find yourself inside, outside, or somewhere on the fringe of Christianity, A Generous Orthodoxy draws you toward a way of living that looks beyond the "us/them" paradigm to the blessed and ancient paradox of "we." Also available on abridged audio CD, read by the author.

Table of Contents

Foreword 9(4)
Phyllis Tickle
Foreword 13(6)
John R. Franke
Introduction 19(12)
A Generous Refund
Part One: Why I Am a Christian
The Seven Jesuses I Have Known
Jesus and God B
Would Jesus Be a Christian?
Jesus: Savior of What?
Part Two: The Kind of Christian I Am
Why I Am Missional
Why I Am evangelical
Why I Am Post/Protestant
Why I Am Liberal/Conservative
Why I Am Mystical/Poetic
Why I Am Biblical
Why I Am Charismatic/Contemplative
Why I Am Fundamentalist/Calvinist
Why I Am (Ana)baptist/Anglican
Why I Am Methodist
Why I Am catholic
Why I Am Green
Why I Am Incarnational
Why I Am Depressed-Yet-Hopeful
Why I Am Emergent
Why I Am Unfinished
Epilogue 341


A Generous Orthodoxy
Copyright © 2004 by Brian D. McLaren
Youth Specialties products, 300 South Pierce Street, El Cajon, CA 92020, are published
by Zondervan, 5300 Patterson Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
McLaren, Brian D., 1956-
A generous orthodoxy : why I am a missional, evangelical, post/Protestant,
liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative,
fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, green,
incarnational, depressed-yet-hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian / Brian
p. cm.
Originally published: El Cajon, CA : Emergent YS ; Grand Rapids, MI :
Zondervan, c2004. With epilogue.
ISBN-10: 0-310-25803-0 (pbk.)
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-25803-2 (pbk.)
1. Christianity--Essence, genius, nature. I. Title.
BT60.M37 2006
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible:
New International Version (North American Edition). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by
International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan.
Some of the anecdotal illustrations in this book are true to life and are included with
the permission of the persons involved. All other illustrations are composites of real
situations, and any resemblance to people living or dead is coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy,
recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without
the prior permission of the publisher.
Web site addresses listed in this book were current at the time of publication. Please
contact Youth Specialties via e-mail (YS@YouthSpecialties.com) to report URLs that are
no longer operational and replacement URLs if available.
Creative Team: Dave Urbanski, Jay Howver, David Sanford, Kristi Robison,
Janie Wilkerson, Laura Gross, Holly Sharp, & Ryan Sharp
Cover design by Mark Arnold
Cover photography by Blair Anderson
Printed in the United States of America

I am a Christian because I have a sustained and sustaining
confidence in Jesus Christ. I’ve lost and rediscovered that
confidence a few times, which is a long and messy story
worth simplifying and boiling down to manageable length
in these first chapters.
I know my original attraction to Jesus came as a
young child. In my home and at Sunday school, I heard
stories about Jesus. I remember a children’s picture Bible
that had a simple but beautiful picture of Jesus, seated, in
a blue and white robe, with children of all races gathered
around his knees. Some were leaning on him. Some were
seated at his feet. Some had their arms around him. His
arms were opened in an embrace that took them all in, and
his bearded face carried a gentle smile a boy could trust.
Looking back, I realize the illustration wasn’t historically
accurate. It was influenced more by a popular Sunday
school song that I also loved (“red and yellow, black
and white, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the
little children of the world”) than by ancient Middle Eastern
realities. But in a way, the picture was even truer than a
historically accurate picture would have been; it probably
would have had no red, yellow, black, or white children at
all, but only brown Middle Eastern ones.
The picture Bible was augmented in my imagination
by flannel graph stories about Jesus. Flannel graph was
a kind of 1950s high-tech precursor of overhead projectors,
laptop video projectors, videos, and DVDs. The teachers
were always kind women, sometimes even my own mother.
Each would tell stories with an easel behind her. On the
easel would be a piece of flannel cloth with a scene drawn
on it with markers—a countryside, a storm at sea, a courtyard
with marble columns, a home, a roadside with big
boulders beside it. As the story unfolded, cut-out figures
backed with felt would be stuck on the flannel background
(felt and flannel being a gentle precursor of Velcro®)—blind
Bartimaeus, Zacchaeus, a woman near a well, a nameless
leper and his nine friends, a Roman centurion, or a Syrophonecian
woman with a sick child. Through these stories,
Jesus won my heart.
When I reached my teenage years, though, I lost
that Jesus as one loses a friend in a crushing, noisy, rushing
crowd. The crowd included arguments about evolution
(which seemed elegant, patient, logical, and actually
quite wonderful to me, more wonderful even than a literal
six-day creation blitz), arguments about the Vietnam War
(which made no sense to me—even if communism was as
bad as everyone said, were people better off bombed and
napalmed to death?), arguments about ethical issues like
civil rights and desegregation and a hundred other things.
I wondered if women were really supposed to be submissive
to men and if rock ’n’ roll was really of the devil. Were
Catholics really going to burn in hell forever unless they
revised their beliefs and practices to be biblical like us?
After a short foray into doubt and a rather mild (all
things considered) youthful rebellion, my faith in Jesus
was revitalized, largely through the Jesus Movement. For
those who were part of it, especially in its early days, the
Jesus Movement was a truly wonderful thing. There was a
simplicity, a childlikeness, a naïveté, and a corresponding
purity of motive that I have seldom seen since. In fact, this
book may simply be an attempt to articulate what many of
us felt and “knew” during those years.
But all too soon the Jesus Movement was co-opted.
It was to a different Jesus that I was gradually converted.
The first new Jesus I met had a different face, a
different tone, a different function. “Jesus was born to die,”
I was told again and again, which meant his entire life—
including the red, yellow, black, and white children around
his knees…Zacchaeus in the sycamore tree (which gave me
a lifelong love for sycamores)…Bartimaeus by the road…the
one grateful leper returning…the woman by the well…the
caring parents who begged him to heal their children—was
quite marginalized. Everything between his birth and death
was icing at most, assuredly not cake. This marginalization
was unintentional, but in my experience it was very real. I
was losing something but gaining something, too: the conservative
Protestant (or Evangelical) Jesus.
The Conservative Protestant Jesus
For conservative Protestants, the good news centers on
the crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus saves us by dying on the
Several forces, I think, cooperated in the co-opting of the Jesus Movement, including
Classic Pentecostalism, the Religious Right, parachurch Christianity, the contemporary
Christian music industry, and the religious marketing machine.
Have you noticed that our great creeds tend to do this, too—to affirm Jesus’ birth and
then skip to his death? What does that say about us? What unintended consequences

Excerpted from A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional, Evangelical, Post - Protestant, Liberal - Conservative, Mystical - Poetic, Biblical, Charismatic - Contemplative, Fundamentalist - Calvinist, Anabaptist - Anglican, Metho by Brian D. McLaren
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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