the year of living like a new kind of christian

February 17, 2010 at 8:37 pm 10 comments

tyolljA brief mention of a couple of books I’m in the middle of reading.

The Year of Living Like Jesus, by Ed Dobson, follows the genre of The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. In fact Jacobs even provides an endorsement of the book. Dobson does as the title of the book states and tries to live like Jesus for a year. Kind of like “what would Jesus do” carried to an extreme. It is definitely more spiritual in nature that Jacobs’ book. Dobson is a devout believer and pastor who seeks to live like Jesus, not so much in the cultural norms and rules of Jesus’ time, though he does a bit of that, but more in the spirit of Jesus, trying to understand his message better and how he would have chosen to live.

One big difference from The Year of Living Biblically is that while Dobson’s book is very well written, it is not as funny or entertaining as Jacobs’ book. Not necessarily a shortcoming, just a different style and purpose. I probably also enjoyed Jacob’s work more because I am more of a “reverent agnostic” (as Jacob’s describes himself by the end of his book) than an evangelical Christian like Dobson.

Dobson is an interesting guy because he comes from a very conservative Christian background, would seem on the outside perhaps to be a very conservative evangelical, but does a lot of things that many conservative people would not feel comfortable with. Not just doing things that makes conservatives uncomfortable, but seeming to enjoy that it does. Dobson actually worked directly with Jerry Falwell for over 14 years.

He is very insightful in the way he learns from others even when he does not prescribe to all their doctrines. For example, he writes about what it means to pray to Mary and say the rosary with Catholic people, and grows in his understandings of these concepts from discussions with Catholic friends. Very humble and I have a lot to learn from his example.

I glanced at the rosary. Maybe I should pray the rosary as part of my journey in following Jesus. As quickly as that thought came, another one followed: that’s crazy. Praying to Mary? You’ve got to be kidding. We only pray to God. Not Mary, not the saints, not anybody! And besides, praying the rosary has absolutely nothing to do with living like Jesus.

Or does it?

ankocI am reading through Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian along with atimetosew. The book is told as a fictional story where the characters end up narrating the points the author wants to make. As fiction, bleh, but the teaching is very good. McLaren discusses what it means to incorporate postmodern thought into his Christian faith, still somewhat orthodox in belief, but new at the same time.

atimetosew feels she may be heading in that direction with her faith, which I can confirm, I think she is becoming A New Kind of Christian, which is pretty cool. Maybe I am becoming a new kind of person too. I think we both find the book pretty great. Some good ways to understand and work out one’s faith in this modern age.


Entry filed under: books, Christianity.

the authority of paul (or someone) the ghost of bobby dunbar

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Christiana  |  February 17, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    I’ve seen those books and they look really good. We’ll have to check them out. Thanks for the reviews!!

  • 2. Laughing Boy  |  February 17, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    I’d be interested to hear what’s “pretty great” in McLaren’s book. For example, you say his teaching is very good; can you give an example?

    A couple questions I have based on the title alone are:

    Q1: What makes McLaren’s kind of Christian new?

    Follow-ups: New compared to what? Were our parents the old kind? Were the Reformers the old kind? Was the Apostle Paul the old kind? What makes new kinds better than old kinds?

    Q2: Is he defining a new (i.e., other than the former) kind of Christ-ian, or a new (i.e., of recent origin) kind of McLaren-ian?

    Follow-up: Would there be any distinctive features whereby one could discern a Christian from a McLarenian? In other words, is question Q2 unanswerable?

    I haven’t read A New Kind of Christian but I did read A Generous Orthodoxy a few years back.

  • 3. Laughing Boy  |  February 17, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    P.S. Thanks for the compare and contrast of Dobson and Jacobs. You explain in what way Dobson attempted to live like Jesus (i.e., not culturally, but “how he would have chosen to live”—and I take this to mean how Jesus would have lived in the early 21st century). In what way does Jacobs attempt to live biblically?

  • 4. atimetorend  |  February 18, 2010 at 7:14 am

    That’s a good question about Dobson and Jacobs, and makes me think I misrepresented the difference between the two. Both writers really do try to live biblically partly in the cultural practices eg. keeping the sabbath, eating kosher, stoning people (Jacobs). And both approach the project very humbly, hoping to learn from the experience. I think the real difference is that Dobson is already a believer trying to grow in his belief, while Jacobs is an unbeliever who wonders if it is possible for him to believe. I wrote more on Jacobs’ book here.

    I will defer on the McLaren questions until I have read more of the book and/or have a bit of time to think on it.

  • 5. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  February 18, 2010 at 10:47 am

    I have McLaren’s Finding Faith: A Search for What Makes Sense, but have not read it yet. This book sounds interesting too.

  • 6. kansasbob  |  February 18, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    I loved this:

    “Maybe I am becoming a new kind of person too.”

    Most of my life I was comfortable and did little to change the kind of person I was.. pain changed all of that.. fundamentalism has no answers for pain.. so I was forced to grow into a new kind of Christian. Anywho, I look forward to hearing more about your thoughts on the McLaren book.

  • 7. Liberum Credo  |  February 18, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    That is really cool that Dobson is able to take the good from other beliefs without feeling his own faith threatened. I am glad to see more people looking deeply at the spirit of Christs words and spending less time like the Pharasees (sp?) worrying endlessly about written laws from another era.

  • 8. Bruce  |  February 18, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    I really like Dobson.

    Several years ago we drove to his Church to hear him preach…or so we thought. Found ourselves in a similar named Church, but a Fundamentalist Baptist Church, We didn’t stay. :)

    Dobson, like McLaren challenges the status quo.

    Dobson’s book, Blinded by Might, was the nail in the coffin of my politicking preacher career.


  • 9. OneSmallStep  |  February 19, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    I hope you’ll post a review/impressions of McLaren’s “A New Kind of Christian.” From what I understand, in Christian circles, it’s getting a lot of praise on the left and some anti-praise on the right.

  • 10. atimetorend  |  February 21, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Thanks for all the comments. I’ll try look at my margin notes and put together some more McLaren thoughts as soon as I get a little time. I’ll look for some “anti-praise” reviews to quote as well…

    Bruce, too bad you missed Dobson preaching. Dobson does change the status quo. It is very interesting how he does that from *within* the conservative evangelical circle rather than from outside like McLaren.

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