My new book, Don’t Stop Believing: Why Living Like Jesus Is Not Enough, just arrived. I drove to Zondervan’s warehouse on Friday and picked up over a thousand copies for myself and then spent the weekend reading through them. The first thirty or so were great, the next twenty just seemed like more of the same, and by number 54 I wanted to take Tad’s advice and start punching myself in the face (if you’re reading this, Tad, I only mean this to be a funny poke at our misunderstanding).
As I drove home with a van full of boxes stuffed with my books I tried to assess my motives. I determined quickly—perhaps too quickly!—that I didn’t write Don’t Stop Believing to make money or raise my profile. I am entirely content with my socio-economic status (I don’t covet a cell phone or DSL or other modern conveniences that come with monthly fees—though I do have high definition cable TV) and I’m not interested in being away from my young family on extended speaking tours.
On the other hand, I have invested two years of research and writing into this book. I gave it my best shot, and so I do hope that it is well received. This book is an extension of me, and so any unwarranted or mean-spirited criticism will feel like a personal attack. But I do welcome respectful, helpful criticism—as I don’t claim to have it all figured out and am still learning with everyone else.
Most important, I pray that Don’t Stop Believing will help the church of Jesus Christ. I sense that many Christians and churches are at a tipping point, and I hope that my book will play a role in pulling some back from the brink. I will have reached my goal if readers say that this book gave them a third way through the postmodern culture wars—and showed them how commitment to the historic doctrines of the Christian faith are necessary for the social action they desire.
Since my book addresses the weaknesses I find among postmodern innovators (my term for what is roughly the Emergent crowd, and my way of avoiding getting hung up on labels on who is in what group—I’d rather give them a generic title so we can focus on the issues they raise), I think it is appropriate to begin our discussion with their strengths. Let’s take this week to discuss what is good about Emergent. Let me know what Emergent authors say that you enjoy or agree with (Zach, I promise I’ll give equal time to the other side).
I’ll start. Although I haven’t seen him develop the concept as far as I would like (i.e., into the restoration of creation on the new earth), I find myself about half of the time saying “Right on!” and writing “worldview” in the margins when I read Brian McLaren’s books. He rightly reminds us that this life and this earth matters and that the Christian life starts now, not just after we die. I often cite his line that getting saved is the starting line, not the finish line, of our life with Christ. In fact, I think that his recovery of living for Christ explains a big chunk of his appeal to younger Christians. While I have important reservations about where he starts from and where he ends up, I applaud Brian’s efforts to recover what I would call a Christian worldview.