Update March 25, 2008:
I thought I would update the post below from January 15th. I went to Brian McLaren's Everything Must Change event in Charlotte and was interested to see Brian's structuring of the sessions as worship services. He had written most of the songs that were sung. I think he misses being a pastor!
I also read the whole book. I put off writing a review because it would need to be nuanced and fair as well as quite critical. I am glad though to be able to refer you to Tall Skinny Kiwi Andrew Jones's blog post from today "Brian McLaren Responds to Everything Must Change Concerns" in which Brian responds to a number of strongly-worded questions by Andrew, a friend of Brian's. I also had many of these same questions about the book. See also Scot McKnight's multi-part review linked to below for critique of the book.
Original post January 15, 2008: I'll be at Brian McLaren's Everything Must Change Tour in Charlotte Feb 1-2
Brian McLaren's new book Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope came out October 2nd, 2007 and already has twenty-five reviews on Amazon.com, has been reviewed by Scot McKnight, and is reviewed by the editor of Books & Culture John Wilson in the January 2008 issue of Christianity Today. (Now available online: see link).
In the book, McLaren draws on his extensive global travel over the last few years and (as always) seeks above all to stimulate fresh lively conversations. This time he wades into the issues of capitalism, poverty, politics, terrorism, Islam, and the environment. Though some reviewers wish McLaren had more economic and scientific expertise to add more weight and nuance to his conclusions, none question the importance of the questions this book explores. McLaren frequently admits that his MA in English and years of pastoring a church do not make him an expert about anything he has written about (postmodernism - A New Kind of Christian, Jesus scholarship - The Secret Message of Jesus, theology - A Generous Orthodoxy, and now global crises). But, he is a master at speaking in language that grabs the attention of ordinary people. And, though there are some who would disagree with me here, for not being an expert, I would say he gets a lot right.
McLaren and a few friends are doing an eleven-city tour in the next few months. The very first event is in Charlotte February 1-2 - just two and a half weeks from today. I'm leading a "Late Night Discussion Group" on Friday night entitled "Thinking Seminary." I'll be presenting 15 minutes and then we'll have 45 minutes of discussion. Here is the description of what I'm presenting:
Are you thinking about going to seminary? Andy will discuss “Ten Things You Should Know If You Are Considering Seminary,” as well as how to pick a seminary, why you should go, why you shouldn’t go, the largest ones, theological differences, going part-time or full-time, financial issues, and other questions you may have about theological education. Are you from a seminary (either on staff or currently a student)? Andy will also be discussing how emerging and missional church movements are challenging theological education and how seminaries must change in light of Everything Must Change.
The event in Charlotte is going to be a fairly intimate setting - just two hundred people or so, so you'll have the opportunity to ask some questions, meet some people, and hear the latest things on McLaren's mind. Again, this is the opening weekend of the tour. With all of the added events connected with it, it will go from 6:00 pm Friday Feb 1 until late, and all day Saturday Feb 2 until late so you'll get your money's worth if you are interested. The main sessions will end at around 9:00 pm Friday and 5:00 pm Saturday. It is $109. ($79 with a student ID). Email me if you want to meet there and get coffee at a break.
Here are a few people who I think would enjoy the tour.
1. Those who have enjoyed McLaren's very stimulating, easy-to-read books will enjoy McLaren in person.
2. Those interested in politics, economics, environmental, and law who want to hear someone in plain terms give a stimulating explanation on how those realms should intersect with the Christian faith will not be disappointed.
3. Those curious about the emerging church conversation will get a chance to see that movement of mostly younger Christians do what it does best: sit around and try to sort through the chaos of this world and craft creative faithful Christian responses.
Though McLaren is probably the most influential emerging church leader in the United States, this doesn't mean many emerging church leaders swallow McLaren's conclusions or even share his views. However, McLaren has often had a big influence on the subject of the conversation. In the past, he has encouraged the movement to discuss: social justice, evangelism to postmoderns, appreciating ancient Christian tradition, church planting, eschatology, theology, spiritual formation, and Jesus scholarship. He is now encouraging the movement to look at global crises.
I predict that MacLaren's new book Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope will raise the expectation throughout young American Christianity that having a basic familiarity with the global crises of our world is a prerequisite to future church leadership. The feeling is already growing among laypeople that if a pastor never mentions any of the problems non-Americans face, he or she is probably unfit to suggest ethical implications of the biblical text. McLaren's book attempts to give church leaders just that type of introduction to the world's problems.
In his Christianity Today review of MacLaren's book, John Wilson mentions Nobel Prize-winning Robert Fogel's 2004 book
William Fogel: The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700-2100:
Europe, America, and the Third World (Cambridge Studies in Population,
Economy and Society in Past Time)
My "Seminaries" blog post category
Scot McKnight's 18 posts on Everything Must Change can be found at his Emerging Movement category.