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The Last Word and the Word After That: A Tale of Faith, Doubt, and a New Kind of Christianity

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  785 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
For all those seeking more authentic ways to hold and practice Christian faith, Brian McLaren has been an inspiring, compassionate--and provocative--voice. Starting with the award-winning A New Kind of Christian, McLaren offered a lively, wide-ranging fictional conversation between Pastor Dan Poole and his friend Neil Oliver as they reflected about faith, doubt, reason, m ...more
Paperback, 302 pages
Published June 1st 2008 by Jossey-Bass (first published April 8th 2005)
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Oct 27, 2011 Cathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the final book in McLaren's trilogy "A New Kind of Christian". Of the three, this was my favorite. His discussion of hell, what it means to be saved, how we live out the gospel (which he argues, is not 'going to heaven when I die' but living in the Kingdom of God now and eternally) and what it means to be 'church' were all very helpful in my own thinking and faith. It will not be a book for all people, but it certainly provides good fodder for conversation, for challenging one's own conv ...more
Kerrie-Anne Crosby
Best one of the series, ties it all together and introduces some great new characters.
Jennifer Barten
Jun 16, 2017 Jennifer Barten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By far the best book in the trilogy. Gave me so many things to think about and ponder and changed many of my views on hell.
Jack Kooyman
Aug 05, 2011 Jack Kooyman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this very well written work of "creative nonfiction," McLaren provides thinking, questioning, and open minded Christians--evangelicals in particular--with a very helpful treatment on the topic of hell. I especially appreciated learning much more about the cultural and historical context on the subject within Scripture as well as how the church and various Christian scholars have understood hell as well.

Additionally, within the context of a very well written story, McLaren also does an outsta
Jan 17, 2013 Sue rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian, read-2013

Controversial stuff, yet at the same time oddly reassuring.

In his slightly strange 'creative non-fiction' style, McLaren gently introduces doubts about the conservative evangelical viewpoint of hell - the kind of thing that many of us have puzzled about over the years. Featuring the pastor Dan - who, McLaren declares, really isn't himself - his friend Neil, and a host of other interesting characters, the history and theology of hell are discussed at length.

There's room for disagreement; a
Brendan Egan
+5 stars for its humanist message. -2 stars for its theistic message.

You're right, Mr. McLaren. It is awful to terrify your kids into subordination using imagery of hellfire and eternal torture. Bravo for joining the rest of us.

It's nice to see that some Christians understand what their savior--either the son of their god or their god himself--is trying to say. If only more Christians could put their politics aside and come to the same conclusion: we are all we have and we need each other if we
Feb 26, 2011 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best book, I think, in the New Kind of Christian series. McLaren's fiction has gotten much better (and perhaps therefore more believable) since his first book. But more importantly, the thoughts encompassed in this finale are an important capstone to the building McLaren has been constructing through the first two books.

One item of confusion (contention?) for me was the use of quotes from Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy at the beginning of each chapter. (By coincidence, I was finishing off t
Aug 15, 2014 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
McLaren wraps up his New Kind of Christian trilogy with a volume that focuses on what it means to be "saved," to follow Jesus, to face judgment, and to believe (or not) in an afterlife, specifically focusing on the doctrine of hell.

As with the two preceding books in the set, McLaren has chosen the genre of "creative non-fiction," as he calls it: most of the theology is unpacked via the characters' conversations about the main ideas, and the same characters demonstrate the relative praxis through
Dwayne Shugert
Jun 22, 2013 Dwayne Shugert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Again...excellent, simply excellent. The last word is always love, and the word after that is always love. A powerful and thought provoking book about our concept of Hell and what this means for the church. Brian takes us through history and theology in the midst of friendship and relationships. This book represents a beautiful picture of reconciliation, of forgiveness and of love for God and for others and for all of creation. But this poem from the book is simply to brilliant, profound and bea ...more
Zack Dean
Apr 17, 2011 Zack Dean rated it liked it
Shelves: study
The book was good for me to read to learn different ideas about hell but I wasn't a fan of his creative non-fiction. This is where he came up with a fictional story that deal with real topics. Sounded like a fiction book to me. It seemed to be this guy who was unhappy with his stale faith until he met these people who do things differently than him. When he prayed with them, it was amazing. When he spoke with them, he was enlightened by their words.

To me, he seemed to be pushing the idea that th
Nov 15, 2009 Jared rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual
This book provided an excellent treatment on the topic of hell and eternal punishment. Many sides of the debate were handled with no single one coming out as the one that was "officially" supported by the author. It left me feeling like I was prepared to ask the questions on my own mind and soul rather than providing the answers that the author felt I needed to have, which is a rare treat when it comes to books dealing with such significant topics.

I'll probably read it again, along with some of
Jenn Raley
Sep 14, 2011 Jenn Raley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith
This was a pretty good way to wrap up this series of stories, and round out the character development.

The exploration of the concept of hell is pretty satisfying, but unfortunately it doesn't go much further. This book would have been stronger if it had included further exploration of the afterlife in general - there are just as many misconceptions about what the Bible says about heaven as about hell, yet this book doesn't do much in that area. Too controversial?

To fill in, I recommend NT Wright
Mar 09, 2013 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual
This was a great book about understanding the many views of Hell, and ultimately that where we are going when we die isn't really the most important question to ask. I really enjoyed this "creative nonfiction" style a la Plato's dialogues. Except here Sophocles isn't a pompous guy and whoever he is conversing with isn't an idiot. It was basically a fictional conversation that condensed a lot of scholarship into easy to understand chunks. This book is the last of a trilogy but can also stand alon ...more
May 03, 2007 papasteve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this third book in a trilogy by McLaren, he takes a hard look at the place of evil in the world. It's the question that plagues anyone of faith: if we live in a world run by a good and loving God, what do we do with evil, judgement and hell? I have gained so much by all three of his books in this series, because he's not afraid to ask hard questions and look for answers that move us past sunday school, regurgitated churchianity. If you're tired of the worn out company line, don't just read th ...more
Aug 07, 2011 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wonder what the author's point of view is.

From page 179:

"Scripture ends in a marriage.
This is the end to which all
Things tend, the end which makes all
Things new. Marriage unites, but
In its fire, true love does not
Consume. Selfishness burns. All
That mars love ignites, makes ash.
But faith, hope, love survive. Love
Is the last, best word, the end
Into which all will bend, and
Then begin again. The next
Word and the new will be love
As well: for love never ends
And in love all are made, yes,
Aug 14, 2007 J.D. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book, like the others in the series are quite incredible. Although McLaren is not exactly the best fiction writer, there are so many rich moments in these books that bring up points which cause you to stop and think. This ability more than makes up for the story, which seems to lack in some points and drag on with parts that don't really seem necessary. Overall, I would say that there is much that can be learned from this series, and it is a shame that many refuse to read it and solely crit ...more
Jan 27, 2008 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
In a continuing of the "New Kind of Christian" series, McLaren chooses to end his monologue in a difficult discussion of Hell. Because of the volatile nature of the subject, many will be repulsed by McLaren's seemingly flippant conclusion. Regardless of your opinion on his theology regarding Hell, this is a very intellectually stimulating book, though the average reader might get bogged down at times. The key here is reading slowly. The more discussion the better. Bring a friend for this one.
Sep 24, 2008 Laurie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brave and honest book on a subject that I suspect many people would rather avoid: the question of what happens to nonChristians when they die. I strongly recommend reading with an open mind. McLaren does an excellent job of presenting the whole range of current theological views, as well as a historic overview of the subject. Enlightening and thought-provoking, and written in his engaging "creative nonfiction" style.
Sep 04, 2011 Cory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having never read Brian McLaren before, I wasn't sure what to expect. This work definitely made me think, and think about things in a new way. It was well-written, and he used a story format to relay his theological discussions - a great way to read it and grapple with it.

This isn't a book I'd pass on to anyone, especially someone early in their Christian faith. It's certainly a book I'd like to discuss with someone!
Deb Amend
Feb 20, 2011 Deb Amend rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The fiction in this was terrible -- the characters were shallow, stereo typical and I found them incredibly annoying. HOWEVER, I also found the discussions to be very interesting and thought-provoking and found this to be a clever way to teach history and instill a birds eye view of theology based upon the history of the church vs scriptural understanding. Clarified some questions, raised some more and pointed me towards more resources for continuing to study.
Andrew Brown
Almost gave it 4 stars. For anyone who has a problem accepting the the form of Christianity that suggests everyone is destined for Hell but those who grace the doors of their particular religious communities. It's time the general public received some evidence in favor of tearing the doors off traditional Christianity's eternal exclusivity.
Jul 08, 2012 Clara rated it really liked it
This final installment in McLaren's trilogy offers a postmodern view of the afterlife, focusing on hell specifically. Lots of biblical and outside support for the development of Western Christianity's view of hell and thoughts (from Neo, of course) on how our view is based in culture rather than the Bible.
this book posed a lot of questions that still remain unanswered for me. i like that about the author, which is the main criticism of this entire book series... too many questions with too few concrete answers. this has inspired me to read such books as "God and Empire" and "THe Formation of Hell". it is written very well and is in its own genre of book. i enjoyed the entire series
Anna Kristina
Sep 30, 2009 Anna Kristina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith, fiction
This was a very intriguing ending to the trilogy. I appreciate that McLaren emphasizes he doesn't know the answers but believes the conversation is important. I disagree with some of his theology, and that's okay. I appreciate that the conversation makes me focus on how my beliefs about hell affect my actions and relationships. It's not just about eternity, but pursuing Christ here, as well.
Jan 26, 2012 Ryan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this as a natural follow-on to the first two books in McLaren's trilogy. While the story line is good and compelling, I found that the subject matter jumped far outside of Christian orthodoxy. In other words, the literary device he used for his points was well chosen, but I cannot say that the content fit well with the earlier parts of the trilogy, especially the first book.
Mar 01, 2015 Eirika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highest point of this book is emphasizing the need for Christina's to focus on how we treat fellow humans here and now instead of spending so much time pontificating on the who and how of heaven and hell.

I still do not have a solid theory on heaven and hell and probably won't until I get there.
Feb 10, 2008 Sandy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, fiction
This is McLaren's third in the "New Kind of Christian" trilogy. This one is about hell. It had an interesting review of the history of hell (theologically speaking). I still think the first one was the best (and he really shouldn't give up his day job to write fiction).
I reluctantly have to admit that Brian McLaren is a good writer, nonetheless, I cannot recommend this book. Unfortunately, if you want to understand the Emergent Church and the "personalities" within this movement, you have to read their material to understand their teachings.
Wes Hunter
Jul 25, 2007 Wes Hunter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone/christians
this one mkes you think. mclaren tackles the topic of hell, which a lot of christians would consider taboo to even question, but raises a l lot of good questions. a good read for anyone open-minded enough to read it.
Jelle de Jong
verfrissende kijk op de teksten over hel en verdoemenis, stimulerend om voorbij oude denk kaders te kijken, weet niet of hij gelijk heeft, maar de ideeen zijn niet goedkoop en scherpen minstens mijn gedachten over de bijbel/God/Christus/liefde/uitverkiezi; 0
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Brian D. McLaren is an internationally known speaker and the author of over ten highly acclaimed books on contemporary Christianity, including A New Kind of Christian, A Generous Orthodoxy, and The Secret Message of Jesus.
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