The Last Word and the Word After That.
This book completes the trilogy and extends the story of Dan Poole and Neo into some new "hot" territory. Dan struggles with the idea of hell, and does some research to learn about the origins of the idea. He also connects with a faith community that Neo is part of and gains a deeper understanding of the gospel, justice, and Jesus' message of the kingdom of God.
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For all those seeking more authentic ways to hold and practice Christian faith, Brian McLaren has been an inspiring, compassionate—and provocative—voice. Starting with the award-winning A New Kind of Christian, McLaren offered a lively, wide-ranging fictional conversation between Pastor Dan Poole and his friend Neil Oliver as they reflected about faith, doubt, reason, mission, leadership, and spiritual practice in the emerging postmodern world. That conversation widened to include several intriguing new characters in the sequel, The Story We Find Ourselves In, as Dan and friends continued to explore faith-stretching themes from evolution to evangelism, from death to the meaning of life. Now, in this third installment of their adventures, Dan and his widening circle of friends grapple with conventional Christian teachings about hell and judgment and what they mean for our relationship with God and each other. Is there an alternative to the usual polar views of a just God short on mercy or a merciful God short on justice? Could our conflicted views of hell be symptoms of a deeper set of problems – misunderstandings about what God’s justice and mercy are about, misconceptions about God’s purpose in creating the world, deep misgivings about what kind of character God is and what the Christian gospel is for?
Pastor Dan Poole returns with another personal and theological crisis in this final installment of McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian trilogy, which again features fictional characters engaged in nonfictionish theological dialogue. This time around, Poole has been granted an extended leave of absence from his conservative church as it investigates what it believes to be his liberal theological leanings, especially regarding the doctrine of hell and salvation. In rather predictable fashion, Poole finds himself questioning his own beliefs about hell and God’s goodness, and just as predictably, Poole’s friend Neo gently shepherds Poole away from the traditional doctrine of hell by pointing out that salvation is not just an individual matter but a communal one as well. Once Poole reaches some personal level of understanding about these doctrines through his reading, the church committee miraculously clears him of all charges and, after some emotional meetings, asks him to return to the pulpit. In the end, Poole finds comfort God’s goodness and love, but by then readers may have been disappointed by the book’s flimsy characters and simplistic insights. Although McLaren has justly earned a reputation for provocative postmodern theological observations, this doesn’t live up to his standard. (Apr.) (Publishers Weekly, March 28, 2005)
Download the chapter entitled Flare Up.
Download the study guide, by Timothy Keel. Includes chapters for each of the three books.
If you are interested in joining a discussion group devoted to a A New Kind of Christian please visit groups.yahoo.com/group/NKOC.