I have just begun reading Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christianity published this year. So far so good... nothing that surprsies me but even so, worth continuing.
What has struck me is that in this book he makes mention of the theologians whose work has informed his writing. It is striking because when I cited some of his earlier work in an essay I was (justifiably, if not entirely rightly imo) criticised over the status of my sources. McLaren writes in a popular style rather than an academic style and is not, strictly speaking, a theologian. This can lead to the purists dismissing, or at least looking down upon, his work. In this latest book he notes the scholars whose work inspires his writing such as N T Wright, Marcus Borg, Walter Brueggemann, Gutierrez, Jon Sobrino etc. Whether this will convince the purists that his writing has 'come of age' I have no idea. What it does seem to suggest is that there may be a new kind of Christian writing that is both academcially rigorous and widely accessible... which is not unlike my endeavours for church history. The challenge of accessibility is a big one, and worthy tomes on library shelves won't shift the people of God very far at all. There is a connection to be made, carefully and creatively, so that the thoughts of the great and the intuitions of the rest of us can be related and then made availalbe to those who have neither time nor opporutity to do so themselves.
There is obviosluy a need for great academics, but there is also a great need for practical theologians... and it is the latter that I aspire to be.