We Make The Road By Walking
Brian McClaren's thought-provoking devotional challenges traditional interpretations of Biblical texts
We Make The Road By Walking:
A year-long quest for spiritual formation, reorientation and activation
By Brian D. McLaren
Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN No: 978-1-444-70370-2
Reviewed By: Jo Regan
McLaren seems to be a bit like Marmite, either you love him, or you don’t. This book, an aid to spiritual formation, is thought provoking in many places and a perfect tool for small groups. While you may not agree with all that is said (I didn’t) there is an abundance of good discussion material.
The book can be used for personal daily devotion. However, it is a little heavy going if your aim is to pick it up and read it straight through. There are far too many questions and things to reflect upon to make this viable. McLaren himself invites denominational leaders to encourage pastors to take a year or a season to use the book in public worship. I will leave it for you to decide if this is a good idea or not.
The book is divided into 52 chapters, one for each week, that fall into four seasonal quarters reflecting the church year. While it starts in September (13 weeks before Advent) it can be picked up easily at the start of any of the quarters.
At the start of each chapter we are given the relevant Bible references to read and at the end of the chapter some questions to encourage reflection and indeed conversation. At the end of each quarter there are further questions and an encouragement to discuss and reflect on them in a group setting.
McLaren seeks us to engage creatively with the text, sometimes asking us to imagine ourselves in the Bible story looking in from a certain characters perspective. His style is very readable and he paints the picture of the narrative well.
We need theologians like McLaren to challenge our traditional interpretations of Bible passages but, as he says, we don’t have to agree with him.
Controversial in places, such as in its suggestion that ‘many people suspect’ that Luke made up the account about Mary (Lk 1:5-55) to match Isaiah’s prophecy (Is 7:14) about a virgin giving birth to a son, just as he made up that Elizabeth conceiving in her old age to match the story of Sarah (Gen 17:15-17). Really?
I did however particularly like his reshaping of the ten-commandments in chapter 10 that challenged and certainly provoked discussion when I looked at them in a small group context, which included those who were proclaimed atheists.
I would recommend this book for those who truly want to move forward and be challenged in their faith journey. I would particularly recommend it to pastors and small group leaders as a great tool for spiritual formation.
The Revd Jo Regan is a Baptist Minister and keen blogger