An Orthodox Generosity

(By Nathan Busenitz)

A Generous OrthodoxyOver the last week, I have been rereading much of Brian McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy. I have reviewed the book here before, so I won’t rehash all of my thoughts on it again.

The book (as I understand it in my own limited framework) essentially argues that orthodoxy (meaning a right opinion about doctrine) should be approached with great humility (meaning a realization that you might not be right), tolerance (meaning a willingness to dialogue with others in a non-authoritarian way), and hospitality (meaning a welcoming of other views, including those of non-Christian religions). The author’s postmodern premise leads him to the conclusion that certainty (in matters of biblical doctrine) is impossible. Instead, we should pursue truth through conversation as we live out our Christian mission (of loving those around us), rather than wasting time arguing about doctrinal correctness.

I believe the title is half right. The book is very, very generous. Pretty much every belief system (except for Calvinism and conservative Christian theology) is applauded and embraced.Where the book fails, however, is that it is anything but orthodox.

In an effort to be generous, McLaren goes off the doctrinal deep-end. Perhaps if he had flipped his title around, he might have gotten closer… An Orthodox Generosity. Instead of beginning with generosity, and redefining orthodoxy to fit; he would have done better (much better in fact) to begin with orthodoxy, and then limit his generosity accordingly.

The New Testament is very generous. Love, humility, selflessness, kindness, and service are all repeatedly upheld as Spirit-filled, Christ-like acts.But, the generosity of the New Testament is not a free-styled, all-embracing, blind acceptance of every wind of doctrine for the sake of conversation. It is, in fact, just the opposite. False doctrines and those who teach them are condemned with the harshest terms.

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One Response to An Orthodox Generosity

  1. Albert says:

    Great post! Do you think you could do this with all of McLaren’s titles?

    It at least works for A Kind of New Christian

    Whatever.

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