THE LAST WORD AND THE WORD AFTER THAT: A Tale of Faith, Doubt, and New Kind of Christianity

Brian D. McLaren, Author . Jossey-Bass $21.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7879-7592-0

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.)

Reviewed on: 03/28/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
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