I highly recommend A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren to anyone that is curious about spirituality, science, or has issues with the church. It is a story about the friendship of a pastor and a science teacher. This book really influenced my spiritual formation. I first read this book a couple of years ago when I was really struggling with being a part of the church. I still struggle with the church, but now I have a better understanding of who I am. At the time I read this book the church I was attending, in Reno, Nevada, the pastors answer to all my questions was to fix myself then I would see his way. I was so disenchanted with churches part of me wanted to give up on them all together, but the stronger part of me knew that was not the solution. We need each other with Jesus being at the front. One part in the text that really stood out to me was, “If he is a postmodern person, the modern version of Christianity he has seen seems to him isolated from creation, narrow and fragmented rather than holistic, and rigidly rational rather than open to the mystical.” (McLaren, B. p. 38). A lot of churches I have been to on the West coast remind me of what Jesus came down to change as in John 2. They have turned into a marketplace of fancy wanna be Starbucks coffee shops, book/gift stores, and a huge emphasis on tithing to build a bigger fancier church. When I walk into a church I am going for the fellowship and connection with God, but I feel it has been diluted by to many things of this world. After reading this book and studying the Bible more I became stronger in my faith, more secure in God, and a different outlook on the church.
Another part that stood out to me was, “Maybe we need to read it less like scholars and more like humble seekers trying to learn whatever we can from it, in the context of our sincere desire to live for God and do what he wants.” (McLaren, B. p. 81). I might sound funny to you because I am going to school to study the Bible like a scholar, but I realized that I needed to be more humble in my approach. I do not have all the answers and churches do not have all the answers because they are run by humans and we are flawed. It became more apparent to me while reading this book that I needed to study more because people were, still are, hitting me up with hard questions about God and faith, and in order to help with answers I needed to know more. It really hit me that I needed more knowledge, and will always need more because once we stop seeking we have fallen off the path. “’I do not seek to understand so that I may believe, but I believe so that I may understand; and what is more, I believe that unless I do believe I shall not understand.’ Anselm.” (Charry, E. Inquiring After God p. 20). I think sometimes the church uses their position as power to be right. I have also met some Christians that throw out a little knowledge followed by a reference of the Bible and swear it is the truth with no room for discussion. “I think some Christians use Jesus as a shortcut to being right. In the process they bypass becoming humble or wise. The figure if they use ‘Jesus’ enough, it guarantees they won’t be stupid.” (McLaren, B. p. 93). It made me more cautious as to what I take to heart and has kept me seeking for knowledge to see if it is true or not. It is when I search for this knowledge I need God with me and in order to clearly hear His word I need to approach it with humility, love, and an open mind without letting my presuppositions get in the way.