A Generous Orthodoxy





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A Generous Orthodoxy

Dr Alex Tang


Reread Brian McLaren’s book, A Generous Orthodoxy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004). I have enjoyed reading the book the first time and the second reading is helpful because it is helps me to put into perspective, the impressions I have in the first reading.

Like all of Brian’s books, he throws a lot of things at you at the same time and you have to fight to make sense of them. Sometimes in reading Brian’s writings, I feel like I am fitting together a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle; linear thinking is a hindrance rather than a help!

I like the title “a generous orthodoxy” though I had wondered how an orthodoxy can be generous.

Hans Frei supposedly coined the phrase “generous orthodoxy”.

My own vision of what might be propitious for our day, split as we are, not so much into denominations as into schools of thought, is that we need a kind of generous orthodoxy which would have in it an element of liberalism—a voice like the Christian Century—and an element of evangelicalism—the voice of Christianity Today. I don't know if there is a voice between those two, as a matter of fact. If there is, I would like to pursue it.

This was picked up by Stanley Grenz in his book Renewing the Center.

Calling for a renewal of an evangelical center to the church of Jesus Christ, a center characterized by a 'generous orthodoxy.'

Brian described himself as a
















which about covers the whole range of belief and traditions in Christianity. Talk about covering all his bases!

In each chapter, Brian shared his experiences and autobiography and how he came to that point in his spiritual journey. It is refreshing to be able to read about his struggles and his doubts. Sometimes I think it is very sad to assume that Christians know all truth and never have doubts. If we know all truth, then we do not need the Holy Spirit and if we do not have doubts, we should be in heaven (where we see clearly).

I must say that Brian is very generous in his assessment of the state of the church and other Christians. I wish other and other were as generous towards him. Fortunately there are other. However, in terms of orthodoxy, I saw how he cleverly tread his way between theological landmines without setting them off. He also skirted the edges of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy without being pulled in. Though I do not agree with everything he wrote, I have enjoyed his explanations and tried to see things from his point of view. If there is a word I would use to describe this book, it will be bridge-building (oops, actually two words). It is a start of building bridges to other shores, ideas and practices. I guess a conversation is also a form of bridge building. And I am enjoying the conversation from people on both sides of the bridge. Some grassroot discussion here.

soli deo gloria  


|posted 16 January 2007|


Online resources

  • Faithfully Dangerous Christians in postmodern times by Brian D. McLaren | May/June 2002
  • Post-Evangelicalism Last in a series of responses to Brian McLaren's book, A New Kind of Christian.
  • Reformed or Deformed? |
  • Let's Get Personal Yes, the church needs to get past modernity's impersonal techniques. But adding the prefix post doesn't solve anything
  • Bless This House? Why efforts to renew the church are often misguided.
  • It's All About Who, Jesus? If worship is for God, why are so many songs about us?
  • Emerging Values The next generation is redefining spiritual formation, community, and mission.



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