It has been a very long time since I was kept awake late into the night because I simply could not put down a book I was reading. Last night I began The Word of the Lord to Evangelicals at about 11pm and I could not stop until I finished it.
This book is actually quite short and easy to read. It tells the story of a college student named Wendy who meets a homeless man claiming to be God. As the story continues Wendy’s faith and life are changed as she encounters “God” at different times throughout her educational career.
I am usually not a fan of books that use fictional stories to teach a lesson. I could not make it through A New Kind Of Christian which was McLaren’s first of this type of book. The brevity of The Word of the Lord to Evangelicals seems to work to McLaren’s advantage though. He concisely and aggressively makes his point about the problems of the evangelical world in a releatable way.
The book does not go into great detail about specific issues, rather, it fires at some of the broad identifying markers of the evangelical “bubble.” For example, McLaren takes aim at the evangelical mandate to get people “saved.” The book’s God character says, “All this talk about saving souls and damning everything else–it did not come from me. That is something you guys made up.”
To me, the most challenging part of the book takes several familiar Scripture passages and adjusts them to reflect common evangelical interpretations. “For God so loved the church that he gave to himself his only Son, as a penal substitutionary sacrifice, so that those elect few who believe in this atoning doctrine would not suffer eternal, conscious torment in hell as a result of original sin. . . (Not John 3:16)”
This section of distorted Scripture is amusing, enlightening, and terribly challenging.