I signed up some time ago to review books through www.booksneeze.com. Signing up is an agreement to receive a free book, read it, and then review it…repeat. The following is my review of Brian McLaren’s Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices.
Finding Our Way Again marks the beginning of a series of books aimed at helping persons of faith, particularly of Abrahamic origins, to those practices most foundational, and perhaps most beneficial, to the life of a believer. Any personal emphases most certainly proceeds from my own Christian background, though the term “Christian” may no longer be advantageous in speaking of Jesus.
Though somewhat reluctant to read this first volume considering the reputation of Brian McLaren’s prior work in evangelical circles, I did not want to pre-judge a book by the name on the cover. Whereas McLaren’s agenda in previous writings may have meant to stir the proverbial pot, this particular book seeks to empty that pot with preconceived notions of “spirituality” in regards to the Abrahamic faiths (i.e., Islam, Judaism, and Christianity). McLaren writes from the vantage point of a confessional Christian: “I never in any way minimize the classical (and I believe profoundly true) ways of speaking of Jesus in the ancient creeds.”
It is from this place of confession that McLaren’s convictions arise, namely, that Christians must return to those practices that have shaped and formed disciples of Jesus Christ since the time of Christ. There is no need, says McLaren, to discover a new way of following Jesus. Instead, followers of Christ need to do just that—follow Christ. Finding Our Way Again lays out the historical flow of what it meant to journey in one’s faith and be in constant motion rather than the tendency “to turn the way into a place, to turn the adventure into a status…to turn the holy path into a sitting room—even if we call it a sanctuary.”
This book does challenge the status quo, which is desperately needed in what has become a lazy, foundationless expression of the Christian faith. The Way of Christianity is a pilgrimage according to McLaren, and this is certainly tenable based on the Scriptures, Old and New. Faith is a journey. There is a place of origin and destination, but there must be movement in between.
The last portion of the book is dedicated to explain “the threefold way” of walking the spiritual path. This way consists of The Via Purgativa (self-examination and a recognition of the evil within), the Via Illuminativa (exposing our souls to God’s light and becoming warmed in all respects by that light), and the Via Unitiva (the progressive aligning of our will with God’s, our emotions with God’s, our thoughts with God’s, etc.).
Do not let the name Brian McLaren scare you away from this volume. It is the first in a series of books that I believe could help any Christ-follower relearn how to walk and ultimately, we may all find our way again.