The Last Word and the Word After That
For all those seeking more authentic ways to hold and practice Christian faith, Brian McLaren has been an inspiring, compassionate--and provocative--voice. Starting with the award-winning A New Kind of Christian, McLaren offered a lively, wide-ranging fictional conversation between Pastor Dan Poole and his friend Neil Oliver as they reflected about faith, doubt, reason, mission, leadership, and spiritual practice in the emerging postmodern world. That conversation widened to include several intriguing new characters in the sequel, The Story We Find Ourselves In, as Dan and friends continued to explore faith-stretching themes from evolution to evangelism, from death to the meaning of life. Now, in this third installment of their adventures, Dan and his widening circle of friends grapple with conventional Christian teachings about hell and judgment and what they mean for our relationship with God and each other. Is there an alternative to the usual polar views of a just God short on mercy or a merciful God short on justice? Could our conflicted views of hell be symptoms of a deeper set of problems - misunderstandings about what God's justice and mercy are about, misconceptions about God's purpose in creating the world, deep misgivings about what kind of character God is and what the Christian gospel is for?

The Last Word and the Word After That Details

TitleThe Last Word and the Word After That
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 8th, 2005
PublisherJossey-Bass
ISBN-139780787975920
Rating
GenreReligion, Theology, Christianity, Fiction, Faith, Christian, Spirituality

The Last Word and the Word After That Review

  • Mack Hayden
    January 1, 1970
    Glad I read through this trilogy this year. If only more people from my background were asking questions like this, I really think Christianity would still be considered a viable worldview by a lot more people. From a purely historical perspective, it was super interesting to learn about the development of Hell / judgment from the divine as an idea for all religions and Judaism/Christianity in particular. Not my favorite of the three, but still an enjoyable, informative read.
    more
  • Cathy
    January 1, 1970
    This is the final book in McLaren's trilogy "A New Kind of Christian". Of the three, this was my favorite. His discussion of hell, what it means to be saved, how we live out the gospel (which he argues, is not 'going to heaven when I die' but living in the Kingdom of God now and eternally) and what it means to be 'church' were all very helpful in my own thinking and faith. It will not be a book for all people, but it certainly provides good fodder for conversation, for challenging one's own conv This is the final book in McLaren's trilogy "A New Kind of Christian". Of the three, this was my favorite. His discussion of hell, what it means to be saved, how we live out the gospel (which he argues, is not 'going to heaven when I die' but living in the Kingdom of God now and eternally) and what it means to be 'church' were all very helpful in my own thinking and faith. It will not be a book for all people, but it certainly provides good fodder for conversation, for challenging one's own convictions and for seeing faith through a different set of lens.
    more
  • Kerrie-Anne Crosby
    January 1, 1970
    Best one of the series, ties it all together and introduces some great new characters.
  • Andy
    January 1, 1970
    Thought provoking, encouraging, challenging, helpful, lots to think about, reflect on and pray through
  • Jennifer Barten
    January 1, 1970
    By far the best book in the trilogy. Gave me so many things to think about and ponder and changed many of my views on hell.
  • Jack Kooyman
    January 1, 1970
    In this very well written work of "creative nonfiction," McLaren provides thinking, questioning, and open minded Christians--evangelicals in particular--with a very helpful treatment on the topic of hell. I especially appreciated learning much more about the cultural and historical context on the subject within Scripture as well as how the church and various Christian scholars have understood hell as well. Additionally, within the context of a very well written story, McLaren also does an outsta In this very well written work of "creative nonfiction," McLaren provides thinking, questioning, and open minded Christians--evangelicals in particular--with a very helpful treatment on the topic of hell. I especially appreciated learning much more about the cultural and historical context on the subject within Scripture as well as how the church and various Christian scholars have understood hell as well. Additionally, within the context of a very well written story, McLaren also does an outstanding job of having his readers contemplate a new--actually more ancient--and broader view of salvation as well as God's purposes for all of creation and its creatures since the beginning, i.e. the missio dei or mission of God.Although the characters are fictional, their experiences, feelings, and struggles are quite real and familiar . . . especially to evangelicals who question and struggle with and question certain beliefs, but hesitate to share them for fear of judgment and exclusion from their "church family." However, I suspect that if people felt safe enough to honestly and openly share their thoughts and questions, we would discover that many more people than we might expect would admit such doubts and struggles.Hopefully, many will read this book and begin conversations with others within their faith communities as well. Perhaps as more of us begin openly discussing these important and essential matters to the life and work of Christ's body, the Church, churches will increasingly become the loving, accepting, welcoming, and safe communities which reflect and witness to God's redemptive love and desire for shalom.
    more
  • Sue
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. Controversial stuff, yet at the same time oddly reassuring. In his slightly strange 'creative non-fiction' style, McLaren gently introduces doubts about the conservative evangelical viewpoint of hell - the kind of thing that many of us have puzzled about over the years. Featuring the pastor Dan - who, McLaren declares, really isn't himself - his friend Neil, and a host of other interesting characters, the history and theology of hell are discussed at length. There's room for disagreement; a Wow. Controversial stuff, yet at the same time oddly reassuring. In his slightly strange 'creative non-fiction' style, McLaren gently introduces doubts about the conservative evangelical viewpoint of hell - the kind of thing that many of us have puzzled about over the years. Featuring the pastor Dan - who, McLaren declares, really isn't himself - his friend Neil, and a host of other interesting characters, the history and theology of hell are discussed at length. There's room for disagreement; at one point Dan bemoans the fact that if he figures out how to help his daughter Jess in her understanding, he will upset his wife Carol, who continues in a fairly conservative exclusivist viewpoint. And there's also room for a great deal of thinking and pondering, and searching of the Scriptures.Whatever the truth - or otherwise - of hell, many excellent points are made about the importance of living for Christ, of caring about justice on earth, of showing love and kindness to all. Far too many Christians come across as angry and judgemental, almost seeming to rejoice in the idea of the condemnation of the unsaved, and while people of that persuasion would probably consider this book heretical, it's important that those of us who tend towards the more inclusivist viewpoint should not judge or condemn those who are more conservative or intolerant in their view.Powerful stuff, leaving open as many questions as it answers. The fiction part is rather lightweight, more a vehicle for the theology and history than anything else, but it works. And is very readable. Highly recommended.
    more
  • Brendan Egan
    January 1, 1970
    +5 stars for its humanist message. -2 stars for its theistic message.You're right, Mr. McLaren. It is awful to terrify your kids into subordination using imagery of hellfire and eternal torture. Bravo for joining the rest of us.It's nice to see that some Christians understand what their savior--either the son of their god or their god himself--is trying to say. If only more Christians could put their politics aside and come to the same conclusion: we are all we have and we need each other if we +5 stars for its humanist message. -2 stars for its theistic message.You're right, Mr. McLaren. It is awful to terrify your kids into subordination using imagery of hellfire and eternal torture. Bravo for joining the rest of us.It's nice to see that some Christians understand what their savior--either the son of their god or their god himself--is trying to say. If only more Christians could put their politics aside and come to the same conclusion: we are all we have and we need each other if we hope to make things bearable, or even great, for everyone. Unfortunately, I don't think those entrenched in conservativism are so easily swayed. Otherwise the latest Pope wouldn't be causing a stir.There were plenty of lines that made me cringe, but it's more than a good start, anyway. There's hope for humanity yet.As far as the book itself, it's entertaining. I enjoyed the various dialogues, for the most part. It could have used another pass from its editor,though. I don't think it was particularly well written, but it was sufficient to get its point across.It's too bad that so many cling to faith and can't experience wonder and awe at reality and nature without the help of a supernatural being that seems to just sit on the sidelines and watch its creation fall apart. I don't believe in miracles, but there's definitely something wonderful about humanity and I hope more people are able to realize that in the future.We can be good without gods.
    more
  • Eric
    January 1, 1970
    The best book, I think, in the New Kind of Christian series. McLaren's fiction has gotten much better (and perhaps therefore more believable) since his first book. But more importantly, the thoughts encompassed in this finale are an important capstone to the building McLaren has been constructing through the first two books.One item of confusion (contention?) for me was the use of quotes from Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy at the beginning of each chapter. (By coincidence, I was finishing off t The best book, I think, in the New Kind of Christian series. McLaren's fiction has gotten much better (and perhaps therefore more believable) since his first book. But more importantly, the thoughts encompassed in this finale are an important capstone to the building McLaren has been constructing through the first two books.One item of confusion (contention?) for me was the use of quotes from Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy at the beginning of each chapter. (By coincidence, I was finishing off the Paridiso after months of trudging through that work at the same time I was reading Last Word.) The quotes seemed quite out of context in McLaren's use, and rather unnecessary overall. It wasn't until I read the commentary at the end of the book that I realized (to my shame) that McLaren intended a certain parallelism between Divine Comedy and Pastor Dan's travels from the very beginning of the book. Dan's journal entry is reflective of the opening canto of Divine Comedy. (And I, who had just been reading it, didn't even realize it!)I especially appreciated the inclusion of McLaren's commentary on his own book. It was helpful to realize that even Neo, the superChristian, doesn't get everything correct, according to the author.I look forward to reading some of McLaren's latest writing and seeing where he is going with his new kind of Christianity.
    more
  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    McLaren wraps up his New Kind of Christian trilogy with a volume that focuses on what it means to be "saved," to follow Jesus, to face judgment, and to believe (or not) in an afterlife, specifically focusing on the doctrine of hell.As with the two preceding books in the set, McLaren has chosen the genre of "creative non-fiction," as he calls it: most of the theology is unpacked via the characters' conversations about the main ideas, and the same characters demonstrate the relative praxis through McLaren wraps up his New Kind of Christian trilogy with a volume that focuses on what it means to be "saved," to follow Jesus, to face judgment, and to believe (or not) in an afterlife, specifically focusing on the doctrine of hell.As with the two preceding books in the set, McLaren has chosen the genre of "creative non-fiction," as he calls it: most of the theology is unpacked via the characters' conversations about the main ideas, and the same characters demonstrate the relative praxis through the ins and outs of the story.The ideas McLaren espouses come as a breath of fresh air to some of today's evangelicals who have become disillusioned with the current direction of the evangelical movement, namely interpretations of Scripture that reinforce western consumerism and empire thinking. The dominant thread seems to be that whatever our nuanced beliefs are about judgment, hell, and salvation, they are no good if they cause us to focus on the afterlife instead of working for love and justice for all in this life.
    more
  • Dwayne Shugert
    January 1, 1970
    Again...excellent, simply excellent. The last word is always love, and the word after that is always love. A powerful and thought provoking book about our concept of Hell and what this means for the church. Brian takes us through history and theology in the midst of friendship and relationships. This book represents a beautiful picture of reconciliation, of forgiveness and of love for God and for others and for all of creation. But this poem from the book is simply to brilliant, profound and bea Again...excellent, simply excellent. The last word is always love, and the word after that is always love. A powerful and thought provoking book about our concept of Hell and what this means for the church. Brian takes us through history and theology in the midst of friendship and relationships. This book represents a beautiful picture of reconciliation, of forgiveness and of love for God and for others and for all of creation. But this poem from the book is simply to brilliant, profound and beautiful not to share...Scripture ends in a marriage.This is the end to which allThings tend, the end which makes allThings new. Marriage unites, butIn its fire, true love does notConsume. Selfishness burns. AllThat makes love ignites, makes ash.But faith, hope, love survive. LoveIs the last, best word, the endInto which all will bend, andThen begin again. The nextWord and the new will be loveAs well: for love never endsAnd in love all are made, yes,Friends.
    more
  • Jonathan Tysick
    January 1, 1970
    Not so much about hell as it is about the nature of God's character, the gospel and how we should live it out. Startling, imaginative, unsettling, inspiring, entertaining, and thought-provoking. I wish Mclaren would have incorporated more about Paul's understanding of salvation and the rest of the New Testament (not only focusing on Jesus and the gospels), although he briefly touches on this. A great finale to the trilogy! Probably equal to the first book (A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Not so much about hell as it is about the nature of God's character, the gospel and how we should live it out. Startling, imaginative, unsettling, inspiring, entertaining, and thought-provoking. I wish Mclaren would have incorporated more about Paul's understanding of salvation and the rest of the New Testament (not only focusing on Jesus and the gospels), although he briefly touches on this. A great finale to the trilogy! Probably equal to the first book (A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey and definitely better than the second (The Story We Find Ourselves in: Further Adventures of a New Kind of Christian.
    more
  • Zack Dean
    January 1, 1970
    The book was good for me to read to learn different ideas about hell but I wasn't a fan of his creative non-fiction. This is where he came up with a fictional story that deal with real topics. Sounded like a fiction book to me. It seemed to be this guy who was unhappy with his stale faith until he met these people who do things differently than him. When he prayed with them, it was amazing. When he spoke with them, he was enlightened by their words.To me, he seemed to be pushing the idea that th The book was good for me to read to learn different ideas about hell but I wasn't a fan of his creative non-fiction. This is where he came up with a fictional story that deal with real topics. Sounded like a fiction book to me. It seemed to be this guy who was unhappy with his stale faith until he met these people who do things differently than him. When he prayed with them, it was amazing. When he spoke with them, he was enlightened by their words.To me, he seemed to be pushing the idea that the new "emergent" church is inline with God and everyone else isn't.Besides that, I did like the story line of hell to give me different ideas but this is only the beginning for me to be reading on this topic!I further read "Love Wins" by Rob Bell and I plan on getting "The Great Divorce" by CS Lewis!
    more
  • Jared
    January 1, 1970
    This book provided an excellent treatment on the topic of hell and eternal punishment. Many sides of the debate were handled with no single one coming out as the one that was "officially" supported by the author. It left me feeling like I was prepared to ask the questions on my own mind and soul rather than providing the answers that the author felt I needed to have, which is a rare treat when it comes to books dealing with such significant topics.I'll probably read it again, along with some of This book provided an excellent treatment on the topic of hell and eternal punishment. Many sides of the debate were handled with no single one coming out as the one that was "officially" supported by the author. It left me feeling like I was prepared to ask the questions on my own mind and soul rather than providing the answers that the author felt I needed to have, which is a rare treat when it comes to books dealing with such significant topics.I'll probably read it again, along with some of N.T. Wright's work regarding the issue of hell as Christ preached it during His earthly ministry.
    more
  • Judy
    January 1, 1970
    I wonder what the author's point of view is.From page 179:"Scripture ends in a marriage.This is the end to which allThings tend, the end which makes allThings new. Marriage unites, butIn its fire, true love does notConsume. Selfishness burns. AllThat mars love ignites, makes ash.But faith, hope, love survive. LoveIs the last, best word, the endInto which all will bend, andThen begin again. The nextWord and the new will be loveAs well: for love never endsAnd in love all are made, yes,Friends.
    more
  • Jenn Raley
    January 1, 1970
    This was a pretty good way to wrap up this series of stories, and round out the character development.The exploration of the concept of hell is pretty satisfying, but unfortunately it doesn't go much further. This book would have been stronger if it had included further exploration of the afterlife in general - there are just as many misconceptions about what the Bible says about heaven as about hell, yet this book doesn't do much in that area. Too controversial?To fill in, I recommend NT Wright This was a pretty good way to wrap up this series of stories, and round out the character development.The exploration of the concept of hell is pretty satisfying, but unfortunately it doesn't go much further. This book would have been stronger if it had included further exploration of the afterlife in general - there are just as many misconceptions about what the Bible says about heaven as about hell, yet this book doesn't do much in that area. Too controversial?To fill in, I recommend NT Wright's "Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church".
    more
  • Megan
    January 1, 1970
    This was a great book about understanding the many views of Hell, and ultimately that where we are going when we die isn't really the most important question to ask. I really enjoyed this "creative nonfiction" style a la Plato's dialogues. Except here Sophocles isn't a pompous guy and whoever he is conversing with isn't an idiot. It was basically a fictional conversation that condensed a lot of scholarship into easy to understand chunks. This book is the last of a trilogy but can also stand alon This was a great book about understanding the many views of Hell, and ultimately that where we are going when we die isn't really the most important question to ask. I really enjoyed this "creative nonfiction" style a la Plato's dialogues. Except here Sophocles isn't a pompous guy and whoever he is conversing with isn't an idiot. It was basically a fictional conversation that condensed a lot of scholarship into easy to understand chunks. This book is the last of a trilogy but can also stand alone; however, I think I'll be checking out the first two books now.
    more
  • David
    January 1, 1970
    In a continuing of the "New Kind of Christian" series, McLaren chooses to end his monologue in a difficult discussion of Hell. Because of the volatile nature of the subject, many will be repulsed by McLaren's seemingly flippant conclusion. Regardless of your opinion on his theology regarding Hell, this is a very intellectually stimulating book, though the average reader might get bogged down at times. The key here is reading slowly. The more discussion the better. Bring a friend for this one.
    more
  • papasteve
    January 1, 1970
    In this third book in a trilogy by McLaren, he takes a hard look at the place of evil in the world. It's the question that plagues anyone of faith: if we live in a world run by a good and loving God, what do we do with evil, judgement and hell? I have gained so much by all three of his books in this series, because he's not afraid to ask hard questions and look for answers that move us past sunday school, regurgitated churchianity. If you're tired of the worn out company line, don't just read th In this third book in a trilogy by McLaren, he takes a hard look at the place of evil in the world. It's the question that plagues anyone of faith: if we live in a world run by a good and loving God, what do we do with evil, judgement and hell? I have gained so much by all three of his books in this series, because he's not afraid to ask hard questions and look for answers that move us past sunday school, regurgitated churchianity. If you're tired of the worn out company line, don't just read this book; read all three.
    more
  • J.D.
    January 1, 1970
    This book, like the others in the series are quite incredible. Although McLaren is not exactly the best fiction writer, there are so many rich moments in these books that bring up points which cause you to stop and think. This ability more than makes up for the story, which seems to lack in some points and drag on with parts that don't really seem necessary. Overall, I would say that there is much that can be learned from this series, and it is a shame that many refuse to read it and solely crit This book, like the others in the series are quite incredible. Although McLaren is not exactly the best fiction writer, there are so many rich moments in these books that bring up points which cause you to stop and think. This ability more than makes up for the story, which seems to lack in some points and drag on with parts that don't really seem necessary. Overall, I would say that there is much that can be learned from this series, and it is a shame that many refuse to read it and solely criticize him because he can be controversial at times.
    more
  • Cory
    January 1, 1970
    Having never read Brian McLaren before, I wasn't sure what to expect. This work definitely made me think, and think about things in a new way. It was well-written, and he used a story format to relay his theological discussions - a great way to read it and grapple with it.This isn't a book I'd pass on to anyone, especially someone early in their Christian faith. It's certainly a book I'd like to discuss with someone!
    more
  • Laurie
    January 1, 1970
    A brave and honest book on a subject that I suspect many people would rather avoid: the question of what happens to nonChristians when they die. I strongly recommend reading with an open mind. McLaren does an excellent job of presenting the whole range of current theological views, as well as a historic overview of the subject. Enlightening and thought-provoking, and written in his engaging "creative nonfiction" style.
    more
  • Deb Amend
    January 1, 1970
    The fiction in this was terrible -- the characters were shallow, stereo typical and I found them incredibly annoying. HOWEVER, I also found the discussions to be very interesting and thought-provoking and found this to be a clever way to teach history and instill a birds eye view of theology based upon the history of the church vs scriptural understanding. Clarified some questions, raised some more and pointed me towards more resources for continuing to study.
    more
  • Redbeardbrownhair
    January 1, 1970
    this book posed a lot of questions that still remain unanswered for me. i like that about the author, which is the main criticism of this entire book series... too many questions with too few concrete answers. this has inspired me to read such books as "God and Empire" and "THe Formation of Hell". it is written very well and is in its own genre of book. i enjoyed the entire series
    more
  • Anna Kristina
    January 1, 1970
    This was a very intriguing ending to the trilogy. I appreciate that McLaren emphasizes he doesn't know the answers but believes the conversation is important. I disagree with some of his theology, and that's okay. I appreciate that the conversation makes me focus on how my beliefs about hell affect my actions and relationships. It's not just about eternity, but pursuing Christ here, as well.
    more
  • Clara
    January 1, 1970
    This final installment in McLaren's trilogy offers a postmodern view of the afterlife, focusing on hell specifically. Lots of biblical and outside support for the development of Western Christianity's view of hell and thoughts (from Neo, of course) on how our view is based in culture rather than the Bible.
    more
  • Ryan
    January 1, 1970
    I read this as a natural follow-on to the first two books in McLaren's trilogy. While the story line is good and compelling, I found that the subject matter jumped far outside of Christian orthodoxy. In other words, the literary device he used for his points was well chosen, but I cannot say that the content fit well with the earlier parts of the trilogy, especially the first book.
    more
  • Andrew Brown
    January 1, 1970
    Almost gave it 4 stars. For anyone who has a problem accepting the the form of Christianity that suggests everyone is destined for Hell but those who grace the doors of their particular religious communities. It's time the general public received some evidence in favor of tearing the doors off traditional Christianity's eternal exclusivity.
    more
  • Wes Hunter
    January 1, 1970
    this one mkes you think. mclaren tackles the topic of hell, which a lot of christians would consider taboo to even question, but raises a l lot of good questions. a good read for anyone open-minded enough to read it.
  • Eirika
    January 1, 1970
    Highest point of this book is emphasizing the need for Christina's to focus on how we treat fellow humans here and now instead of spending so much time pontificating on the who and how of heaven and hell.I still do not have a solid theory on heaven and hell and probably won't until I get there.
    more
Write a review