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Since reading Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christianity, I can’t stop thinking about Ubuntu.

The geeky me really wants to say that McLaren thinks we should all use Linux, because in Chapter 20 he advocates Ubuntu.

But I have to admit that he’s not talking about computers. He’s actually throwing ubuntu into the rainbow.

In this chapter, McLaren attempts to explain different kinds of Christianity through a color metaphor, moving from red to violet in stages, and calling the violet stage “ubuntu”

…from Africa, a word meaning one-another-ness, interconnectedness, joined-in-the-common-good-ness, and profound commitment to the well-being of all.

McLaren puts most of us who are asking the questions into the indigo category, where we seek honesty. However,

…those of us in the indigo zone commonly look down on red-, orange-, yellow-, green- and blue-zone people and groups, calling them primitive, backward, immature, conservative, fundamentalist, and so on…no wonder indigo people see others as obstructionists, and the others see them as terrorists or nihilists.

But if we are to be ubuntu/violet people, we have to lovingly accept the people who are in the other color levels.

Even if they won’t return that acceptance?

I’m sure Jesus would say “Even so. Seventy times seven times.”

That’s one thing that gets me. I’m not very tolerant of intolerance.

But really, is it too much to ask?  I considered this as I read and digested McLaren’s ideas. And I realized that for the most part (if not all the time), people I know personally whose beliefs differ from mine do not pressure me at all. They do not tell me that my beliefs are wrong, or that I am a heretic.  I may be aware that their church would say this, or that certain public figures they admire might say this, but the people I know? They don’t call me names.

So yes, I need to quit worrying about whether others are doing it wrong. There are still instances in which I think it’s important to stand against what a church is doing. I do think it’s just plain wrong for churches to advocate against civil same-sex marriage laws.  Religious institutions should not be allowed to perpetrate civil injustice.

But otherwise? Take a deep breath. Let it go. Love God and love your neighbor. Ubuntu.

A New Kind of ChristianityIn A New Kind of Christianity, Brian McLaren finally comes to the point. He’s no longer trying to express his beliefs and remain acceptable to fundamentalists (which wasn’t really working anyway). He comes right out and says that it doesn’t make sense for God to condemn the majority of people who have lived on Earth to eternal conscious torment. He says that homosexuality itself isn’t evil. And he’s still saying that everything must change.

That was his previous book, Everything Must Change, which I thought was terrific as well. But McLaren explains in this book that a lot of Christians still aren’t ready to address the issues in Everything Must Change (crises of prosperity, equity, security, and spirituality), and that that’s why he wrote this book. Here’s a description of what happened on his Everything Must Change book tour:

During the Q & R session, most questioners simply ignored the four crises I had talked about. Instead, they focused on arguing fine points of theology with me – all within their conventional paradigms. It was as if they said, “Oh, yeah, yeah, a billion people live on less than a dollar a day. But you’re decentralizing our preferred theory of atonement!”

And so he wrote a book directly confronting these conventional paradigms.

McLaren discusses ten key questions in this book:

  • What is the overarching storyline of the Bible?
  • How should the Bible be understood?
  • Is God violent?
  • Who is Jesus and why is he important?
  • What is the Gospel?
  • What do we do about the church?
  • Can we find a way to address human sexuality without fighting about it?
  • Can we find a better way of viewing the future?
  • How should followers of Jesus relate to people of other religions?
  • How can we translate our quest into action?

As a Christian, I’ve been asking myself these questions for a long time. And I’m actually pretty comfortable with my answers now (although perhaps that means those answers could use confronting, too). But these are also questions that I often hear non-Christians or marginal Christians asking, and maybe those are the people this book will really speak to.

I’m delighted that McLaren has written this book, and that more and more people are asking these questions.


Brian’s personal website
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Browse inside A New Kind of Christianity

Disclosures: I received a free copy of the book through The Ooze Viral Bloggers in exchange for this review. I do receive a small commission for any purchases made through links above. Thanks!

Okay, I’m a United Methodist. I have been for about 8 years now. I was raised as a Roman Catholic, though, and I didn’t leave the Catholic Church because of strong theological or philosophical differences. My husband was raised as a United Methodist, and has never been comfortable in a Catholic Mass, so when we finally decided we wanted to attend church together, I agreed to try the Methodist church.

The one in our area at the time (United Methodist Church of Rancho Cordova, near Sacramento), was awesome. They had a woman pastor (nonexistent in the Catholic church). She left soon after we started attending, but the next pastor was a woman also, and became a good friend. We formally joined the church. I still missed things about the Catholic church — the familiar hymns and rituals and the weekly Communion especially, but eventually the Methodist traditions became familiar as well.

Today, I took a quiz that I found through this blog entry, which was in my Tag Surfer today. It measures something called your “theological worldview.” I’m not sure how to define that. I was surprised, however, to find that I still scored primarily as a Roman Catholic! My second worldview is Emergent/Postmodern, which is more where I see myself these days — and really, the two go together a bit, because one characteristic of emergent/postmoderns is that they like getting back to the ancient rituals of the church.

My third worldview is Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan, which is the United Methodist part of my background. Apparently, however, the faith I was raised in still has a huge impact on my theology and practice.

The full results are below, along with a picture representing Roman Catholicism. Very formal. My husband, who scored fully emergent/postmodern, got a picture of Brian McLaren.

What’s your theological worldview?
created with
You scored as Roman CatholicYou are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.

Roman Catholic
Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan
Neo orthodox
Modern Liberal
Classical Liberal
Reformed Evangelical