So I wasn't familiar to any of the emergent literature during my time in Fundy bible colleges, but somehow, about the time I got married, I stumbled onto a copy of A New Kind of Christian (ANKOC). I put it aside in the hustle and bustle of getting married and starting a new job with Starbucks. About a month after I got married (this puts us in about February of '04) I picked the book up and started reading it on breaks at work. I was entranced. McLaren's writing style was hypnotique. Never before had I read theology in a narrative sense. On top of the style, the substance of his critique resonated deeply with me.
Perhaps a bit of autobiography is in line at this point. I had just spent two years at a Fundy bible school. I was a bit of a theological malcontent and a I had a bit of disdain for the rules and structure (especially in my second year); but I wasn't a "bad" kid per se. Nevertheless, I was asked never to set foot on the campus again due to "theological differences". In their minds, you could not separate theology from morality, and so my "bad" theology was the result of my poor morality.
This false idea of tying morality and theology together was a prime example of the things McLaren was writing against. Like a ugly kid who finally found a date, I embraced McLaren's way of thinking whole heartedly. The problem however was that the lifestyle that McLaren spoke of was by-in-large radically different than the way I was living. He really was advocating what seemed to me to be a new kind of Christianity.
I can vividly remember sitting in my green La-Z-Boy chair weeping and thinking, "O No, I am going to have to change my life. What if Ange doesn't like the changes I feel so false".
Well, luckily for me, ANKOC didn't cause a divorce, but it did cause me to begin to think in different directions. I immediately signed up for a budding new publication called Relevant Magazine. In fact, the first one I got looked like this.
I began to visit Mars Hill Church on vacation to Michigan. I started reading every piece of literature that the fledgling movement could produce. I began to explore the ideas of totally scrapping Christianity as I had come to know it. I questioned my ability to continue my job at a denominational church. I was on a mission. I had plans. I would work for Starbucks in management, and plant a church on the side.
The problem was, no matter how much I resonated with the movement, I was frustrated by its tone. It was all critique and no construction. I didn't know how to deal with this. And so, turned off by the strong negativity I kept searching, still holding on to the Emergent...