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A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, anabaptist/anglican, incarnational, depressed-yet-hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian
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A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, anabaptist/anglican, incarnational, depressed-yet-hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  6,640 ratings  ·  286 reviews
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 Orthodoxy ...more
Paperback, Abridged, 352 pages
Published January 29th 2006 by Zondervan (first published February 1st 2004)
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Start your review of A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, anabaptist/anglican, incarnational, depressed-yet-hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian
Victoria Sweatman
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
If A Generous Orthodoxy is any indication, Brian McLaren seems to be a very nice man. And this is a very nice book. There are plenty of very nice things to say about it. McLaren’s eagerness to embrace complexity is admirable and needed. His self-effacing posture goes some way toward countering the polemical rhetoric of left-right politics. And his critique of a certain kind of Christian fundamentalism is apt, if already a little dated looking back on it from 2014.

As for his prose - well, it does
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I found A Generous Orthodoxy thought-provoking. McLaren uses honesty and wit to portray hard things with gentleness. I especially enjoyed the following points:

The Seven Jesuses I Have Known - McLaren discusses in detail the different ways Jesus has been manifested in his life. In particular, I identified with the Conservative Protestant Jesus (since I grew up in a Southern Baptist church…); it was the first time I realized that the Jesus of my church life is not necessarily the Jesus of the rest
Karen Mcintyre
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Karen by: Anyone wondering how to unite with or accept Christian viewpoint
Shelves: faith
In 1989 I did storytelling at an regional event in PA. The keynote presenter was a Serminary professor Leonard Sweet. What he said resonated deeply with over-simplification was that we no longer live in an either/or world. We live in an AND world. He spoke about paradox and the nature of truth in ways I had not been exposed to and I understood for the first time, why I was uncomfortable with the very conservative Christians who believed that they heard the voice of Jesus in everything in ...more
Feb 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I'm going to ruffle some friend feathers on this one. When, in my first post-collegiate job, the organization I worked for chose to sell this book at the conference bookstore, I was scandalized we would promote such a liberal work. I confess I never read it, as the title before the colon was sufficient to turn me away.

In the year 2021, I have found myself struggling more and more mightily to reconcile the Jesus of both Scripture and my life with the Church to whom I belong. I stumbled across thi
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ahhh!! This book says basically everything I have been thinking consciously for the past year and have been feeling, without being able to put it into words, for who-knows-how-long. Also, great writing (English major perks).

Edit (28 July 2017): My previous review, from last week, was my immediate reaction to this book. After reading "Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church" by D.A. Carson, I have chosen to reduce the rating of this book to 4 stars. I still have great appreciation for what M
Jul 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: read my review
Recommended to Pete by: Phil Hudson
The highly scrutinized, non-self-proclaimed manual for the Emerging Church movement.
Pros: I enjoy the thoughtful, stream of conscious, rabbit trail writing that I think McLaren feels at home with. The authors humility and personal pursuit of Christ is evident. I think that the label of "relativistic-pluralist" by some critics is harsh. He is not denouncing the fundamentals of the Gospel, instead is affirming them and encouraging that we constantly grow and mature in our understanding and applic
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Like traveling around the world, moving through different denominations can nurture in you a sense of appreciation for diversity, unique beauty of each, and awareness of an increasingly larger/whole picture despite the equally increasing tension among the particulars. Such is what McLauren helps us to see through his personal journey of faith, in a very humble, compassionate, and respectful tone that is permeated by the love of God. Much of what he says resonates deeply with my experience and al ...more
May 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: christianity
I enjoy reading books that I disagree with on topics I care about, because I believe that truth can withstand a challenge. I also think it equips me to consider ideas and talk about them with greater care. On that basis, I found this book enjoyable a few years ago when I read it.

What I did not particularly enjoy were McLaren's meticulous and manipulative attempts to be disarming. He's obviously a friendly and intelligent guy who knows the Evangelical landscape like the back of his hand, and he u
Oct 08, 2007 added it
Recommends it for: any christian or non christian curious about what christianity has the capacity for
this book should not be skimmed, or used to perpetuate further flimsy arguments against the author, but rather digested.
David Robertson
I wrote about this book 13 years ago....I think my critique of it then has been proved by how things have developed since then. McLaren's vision of the church has ended up being a nightmare that is neither generous or orthodox...You can read the whole review here -

Josiah Faville
May 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book encourages one to move beyond "right thinking" to something else, something more generous... more dangerous per the critics (a "radically indeterminate anything-goes gospel that means anything and thus is worth nothing"), but per McLaren, more in line with the narrative story of the Gospel. Is there a "right" way to love God 2000 years after Jesus any more than there is a "right" way to love your spouse? "The biblical witness to Jesus Christ as the unique Savior and hope of the world d ...more
Apr 12, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who already have some understanding of Bible
Even I'm currently reading this book, I really don't know the author's intention. I appreciate his honesty in pointing out that our faith is far from perfect as exemplified by all the different denominations and Christian group names. I also appreciate that we need to find better ways of seeking to get closer to God. What I'm not completely satisfied is the overall impact that the book has to offer. When he states what he is not satisfied it loses the impact that he would have had if he mostly s ...more
Oct 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
I thought this was an interesting read. He writes in a clear and concise manner and adds humor to the book that a lot of theology writers don't have. He makes a good case for why we can be all of those things....why we don't have to choose to alienate one another with our titles and labels. ...more
Alex Stroshine
Given that McLaren cleaves to a more liberal outlook than myself, I was surprised at how much I agreed with this book. McLaren paints a compelling picture of "generous orthodoxy," graciously affirming the good in the array of Christian traditions he considers throughout the book; in this way, he offers a gentle corrective to sectarian believers who pontificate that only their OWN denomination has gotten Christianity correct. I would like to think that I too can celebrate the denominational disti ...more
Jenny Esots
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Brian McLaren presents an exploration of Christian identity with an orthodoxy that is Christ-centred and inclusive for the twenty first century. In the process he outlines the history of traditional religious beliefs and theology and examines the wide divergence of traditions within Christianity. The rich Christian theological heritage is embraced with a vision to bring people closer together as Christians.
Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist and public theologian of the Emergent ch
Dan Gobble
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-books, theology
I've started back through this book again because of how deeply it impacted me the first time. What a breath of fresh air in a world long suffering from stilted, dogmatic, mind-numbing brow-beating, nick-picking theological debate and divisive arguments dividing races and tribes over minutiae and sending bodies flinging into a seemingly endless storm of bloody war after bloody war. All supposedly in the name of Jesus. God forgive us.

McLaren holds up most of the major traditions of the Christian
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I find it quite funny that I am reading this book. I first learned about McLaren from some very outspoken and unloving neo-reformer types. They assured me in no uncertain terms that people like McLaren were the cancer that was eating away at the corpse of modern Christianity, and yet all that I have experienced since then would testify to the reversal of this indictment.
McLaren does not seek to deceive, and reminds the reader numerous times that he is “under-qualified” and has not got the shin
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A good friend shared this book with me. After the first chapter, I wasn't sure I could wade through the depths with the author. To be fair, he noted this was the hardest part and urged me to go on. I am so glad I did.

The book left me with a new perspective, sense of optimism, and a very open mind about what it can mean to be a Christian. It's a nice thought that individuals don't need to fit in one small box: by denomination, political affiliation, and the like. Most fortunate, we don't have to
There are some books I wish I could download into the brains of every person I know. This is one of them. Thoughtful, generous, liberating.
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book came to me at the perfect time. Refreshing, insightful, and yes, generous.
Rena Sherwood

Although considered a crucial book in the development of the emergent church, Brian McLaren’s book is filled with convoluted sentences, lack of organization and perhaps the world’s worst subtitle.

For a time, my brother and I did not get along. We were both raised Born-Again Protestant Christians. He still is and is part of the emergent church movement. I’m an atheist. In 2005, my brother send Mom a book that he thought was one of the most important books in the history of Christianity – Brian Mc
Thomas Freeman
Apr 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book is an apologetic for exercising a "Generous" "Right Thinking" (orthodoxy). Brian McLaren basically considers every category of Christian view that claims exclusive truth. From denominations, movements and even doctrines Brian will try to persuade you to blur all the lines for the box you fit truth in. However, he never confronts the fact that he feels he has the answer on truth that lead him to blur the lines on truth. I do not recommend this book because it has no true substance.

At ti
Stephanie Clark
There has to be some sort of term for why a self-deprecating man who then makes statements redefining what terms should mean so that he can now embrace them in his generous orthodoxy is an illogical argument. One might pick up the book and say, "Wow, he claims to be some sort of Charismatic, or some sort of Calvinist." But no, he lays out what they believe in a sentence, or even in a few paragraphs explains what the worst that those groups can sometimes believe, throws that out, and then gives t ...more
Chauncey Lattimer
This book was my introduction to the writing of Brian McLaren and, I must admit, it was not what I expected. Though I do not agree with all that McLaren postulates, I found the book to be very provocative and thought-engendering. If McLaren can be put into any box it would have to be one that opposes almost any 'us/them' distinctions. McLaren fulfills his statement regarding he purpose of the book - i.e., that he is writing "to try to help us realign our religion and our lives at least a little ...more
Dec 24, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
The title of this book should be "the dangerous heterodoxy." Mclaren's thesis is clear enough - and somewhat commendable - that we should try to find common ground with those with whom we will be sharing all eternity worshipping at the feet of Jesus. However, Mclaren throws almost every standard of orthodoxy in seeking this end. In each chapter, Mclaren pulls out one element of the tradition under discussion - one element with which he can identify in some way. But what he does next is puzzling ...more
Jan 28, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People studying the fine art of "Waffling"
Recommended to Mike by: I heard about it from several sources
His orthodoxy is so generous that it's not even close to orthodox. If you're dying for a manual on how to be completely wishy-washy this would be the one. I don't believe you could pin him down on anything he believes. You could ask him what his birthday is and he would say something like:

"We're all still growing, learning and changing. Different people may have very different truths that they've gleaned from diverse experiences. Some may believe that my birthday is sometime in June, while yet
Brian Eshleman
Feb 01, 2012 rated it liked it
I want to give fair warning that I read an abridged version in case the full version would have cleared this up. This book may be uneasy, which is a good thing in the sense that it made me examine the assumptions in which my life and faith are based. The author's gentle and persistent urging to approach our convictions with humility, most especially in matters we hold as Truth, is something the Holy Spirit has been impressing upon me also.

Still, I tend to hold the uneasiness that one of his frie
Jun 26, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: own-in-print
The only thing generous about A Generous Orthodoxy are the assumptions the author makes in his own favor. Then, with feigned sincerity that comes off as condescending, McLaren establishes that all denominations of truth-seeking are wrong, but that the truth can be arrived, or at least approached, by taking the appealing parts of each denomination, and assuming that those are the parts worth believing in. At some moments Generous Orthodoxy is an ecumenical circle-jerk, and at other times tries to ...more
Amos Smith
Sep 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I found McLaren witty and whimsical. I like his unique style, with lots of long sentences and parentheses. He bends the language like his own mind bends more than most. He has a supple and fluid use of the English language. His numerous declarative "I statements" may seem exhaustive and bordering on ridiculous to some readers. Yet, he playfully presses the point that the game has changed. We live in a postmodern world that looks very different than anything that's transpired before, a world wher ...more
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith
This is the book where someone has finally put into words all the questions so many people with a large dollop of 'evangelical' in their background, and a brain that does not stop thinking, have had to keep buried. It is desperately sad that the author has had to face such a backlash for his courage. The author knew it would be like that; readers might understand why, or they might be so furious at the 'heresy' that they join the protests. I recognised so much of what is described, have experien ...more
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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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These twelve books are so consistently adored, they have become regulars month after month in our data of most popular and most read books on...
108 likes · 42 comments
“I’m sure I am wrong about many things, although I’m not sure exactly which things I’m wrong about. I’m even sure I’m wrong about what I think I’m right about in at least some cases.” 31 likes
“We must never underestimate our power to be wrong when talking about God, when thinking about God, when imagining God, whether in prose or in poetry. A generous orthodoxy, in contrast to the tense, narrow, or controlling orthodoxies of so much of Christian history, doesn't take itself too seriously. It is humble. It doesn't claim too much. It admits it walks with a limp.” 25 likes
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