The first volume of Brian McLaren’s trilogy A New Kind of Christian, recounts a lively and intimate conversation and spiritual journey between fictional characters- Pastor Dan Poole and his daughter’s science teacher Neo. They reflect together about faith and life as Dan has a crisis of leadership, faith and doubt. It is essential a tale of hope and spiritual renewal for those who thought they may have given up on God, faith or the church. Throughout the book the character of Neo challenges Dan and others in their thinking and in one part Neo asks his students about the practical advice they would give Martin Luther if they could go back in time and meet this sincere young medieval monk who wants his life to count for God. The class replied:
“Don’t put your confidence in the institution of the church; put your confidence in God. be open to new ideas and new interpretations of the faith. Don’t be too quick to criticize. Expect things to be messy. Don’t resist change, Go with it..Keep going back to the Bible, but not with the standard interpretations blinding you to new interpretations. try to sort out tradition from the real essentials of the gospel. Get with it, get out of the way, or get counselling!”
When challenged about the dangers of change and the prospect of heresy, the character of Neo responds with quiet determination; “I believe in the Holy Spirit. i believe Jesus meant it when he said the spirit of God would be with us, guiding us to the very end. So I believe that he will guide us through these winds and currents of change, no matter what storms come. In fact, I believe that he is the wind in our sails, leading us into the change, because that’s his way. he always moves ahead.He’s not about taking us back to the past..He has a purpose he is working toward, and I want to keep up with him. I suppose that’s my greatest fear, not that I’ll go too fast or too far but that I’ll lag behind.”
Visionary and inspiring stuff . It’s no wonder Neo is fictional when did you last get words like that from a church leader?