Book Review – “Finding Our Way Again” by Brian McLaren
Romans 1:25 (NASB)
This was the passage of scripture that kept popping up in my head as I made my way through Brian McLaren’s book Finding Our Way Again; The Return to Ancient Practices. The concept of this series intrigued me, so when given the chance I began with the first book in the series, and to be honest I truly wish I would have skipped it and went straight to the second book. To say that this book is not a good read would be the understatement of the year. In fact I’m truly shocked and saddened that Thomas Nelson would even agree to print such a blasphemous work. It’s a tragedy on a Shakespearian level that this book is being presented as one that focuses on “Christian faith,” when the author openly advocates what can only be called a ‘Universalist Theology.’
Here several years ago I read an excellent little book by Dr. J.K. Jones entitled “What the Monks can Teach Us,” focusing on the pro’s and even con’s of the ancient monastic principles. I was hoping that this book would be somewhere along those lines but alas I was sadly disappointed. The first chapter of the book presents a somewhat compelling argument about how our faith has become a religion instead of a lifestyle, but instead of calling for a radical change in life that focus’ on our personal relationship with God the book takes a nosedive down the tube of what I can only describe as quazi-self-help form of pseudo-Christianity.
The book primarily focuses on three concepts, and McLaren views them as foundational to a deeper spiritual life, Katharsis, Fotosis, and Theosis. Katharsis is us cleaning out our dirty selves while the other two focus on how we can move closer to God.
Not only do McLaren’s ideas appear to be a case of modern self-help/pop-psychology driven spirituality, they are diametrically opposed to the teachings of scripture. We don’t clean up our lives and then draw near to God, we draw near to God, as He draws near to us, we are convicted of our sins, repent of those sins, enter the waters of baptism and rise to newness of life, and there after strive to live a holy life, focused on serving and savoring God.
As a minister, by far the most disappointing and disconcerting aspect of this book is the fact that McLaren openly advocates theological positions that that clearly stand in opposition to teachings of scripture.
I could literally spill gallons of ink on trees of paper documenting McLaren’s deficient theology, but for the sake of time I’ll only comment on a few of his more egregious errors.
(1) “Abraham–like Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad–had an encounter with God.” pg. 22 – for someone to place the false prophet Muhammad in the same category as Abraham and Moses is insulting, but to place him in the same category as Jesus is downright blasphemous, an act that is without excuse!
(2) When speaking about Melchizedek he states “He is not a member of Abraham’s family or culture, nor is he a member of Abraham’s religion.” pg. 25 – apparently McLaren missed the fact that Melchizedek was a “priest of the God Most High,” the same God that was worshiped by Abraham, and consider his words to Abraham; “blessed be Abraham of the God Most High. cf. Genesis 14: 18-19
(3) “the Jewish torah, Christian gospel, and Muslim deen–leads us toward the peace, wisdom, and joy we seek.” pg. 51 – Though the Torah (Pentateuch) and the Gospel are “God breathed” inspired teachings from Scripture cf. 2nd Timothy 3:16, as where the deen (Dīn) is the path along which righteous Muslims travel in order to comply with divine law, or Shari’a, and to the divine judgment or recompense to which all humanity must inevitably face without intercessors before the false god of Islam. Again to place the teachings of false religion in the same category with Scripture is without excuse!
(4) When God created everything, He said, “Let there be … the possibilities unfolded and flowered in a wild creative experiment we clumsily call evolution … and finally naked apes we know as homo sapiens.” pg. 175. I don’t know if McLaren forgot to read the introduction… called Genesis, but creation wasn’t some experiment, it was ordered and perfect, and there was nothing clumsy about it. God spoke it into existence, without need of any change or modification. For someone who claims to be a Christian to advocate evolution, which served as the basis for some of the most egregious atrocities of human history, is again without excuse!
I’ve always been a person who tries to find some redeeming factor in anything I read, alas with this book there is really nothing positive that I can say for it. It is yet another example of false teachings being presented as Biblical truth. The aim of the book is admirable, but through a cacophony of nonsense it completely misses the mark. End thought… read the series, but skip its introduction.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their “booksneeze program.” I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions and views expressed here are my own.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”