@ Author, Speaker, Activist, and Public Theologian
Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. A former college English teacher and pastor, he is a passionate advocate for “a new kind of Christianity” – just, generous, and working with people of all faiths for the common good. He is a core faculty member of The Living School and podcaster with Learning How to See, which are part of the Center for Action and Contemplation. He is also an Auburn Senior Fellow and is a co-host of Southern Lights. His newest books are Faith After Doubt (January 2021), and Do I Stay Christian? (May 2022).
Born in 1956, he graduated from University of Maryland with degrees in English (BA, 1978, and MA, 1981). His academic interests included Medieval drama, Romantic poets, modern philosophical literature, and the novels of Dr. Walker Percy. In 2004, he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity Degree (honoris causa) from Carey Theological Seminary in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and in 2010, he received a second honorary doctorate from Virginia Theological Seminary (Episcopal).
From 1978 to 1986, McLaren taught college English in the DC area, and in 1982, he helped form Cedar Ridge Community Church, an innovative, nondenominational church (crcc.org). He left higher education in 1986 to serve as the church’s founding pastor and served in that capacity until 2006.
Brian has been active in networking and mentoring church planters and pastors since the mid 1980’s, and has assisted in the development of several new churches. He is a popular conference speaker and a frequent guest lecturer for denominational and ecumenical leadership gatherings – across the US and Canada, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. His public speaking covers a broad range of topics including postmodern thought and culture, Biblical studies, church leadership and spiritual formation, pastoral survival and burnout, inter-religious dialogue, and global crises.
He is primarily known as a thinker and writer. His first book, The Church on the Other Side: Doing Ministry in the Postmodern Matrix, (Zondervan, 1998, rev. ed. 2000) has been recognized as a primary portal into the current conversation about ministry in a postmodern context. His second book, Finding Faith (Zondervan, 1999), is a contemporary apologetic, written for thoughtful seekers and skeptics. (It was later re-released as two short books, “A Search for What Makes Sense” and “A Search for What is Real.”) “More Ready Than You Realize” (Zondervan, 2002) presents a refreshing approach to spiritual friendship. “Adventures in Missing the Point” (coauthored with Dr. Anthony Campolo, Zondervan, 2003) explores theological reform in a postmodern context. “A Generous Orthodoxy” (Zondervan, 2004), is a personal confession and has been called a “manifesto of the emerging church conversation.”
His first work of fiction, “A New Kind of Christian” (Jossey-Bass, 2001), has become one of the pivotal texts for what is increasingly called “Emerging Christianity.” It was followed by “The Story We Find Ourselves In” (Jossey-Bass, 2003), which seeks to tell the Biblical story in a fresh way. Brian concluded this trilogy with “The Last Word and the Word After That” (Jossey-Bass, 2005), which challenges conventional understandings of hell and final judgment.
His 2006 release, “The Secret Message of Jesus” (Thomas Nelson), explores the theme of the kingdom of God in the teachings of Jesus. “Everything Must Change (Thomas Nelson, 2007) traces critical ways in which Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God confronts contemporary global crises. In “Finding Our Way Again” (Thomas Nelson, 2008), Brian draws resources from ancient traditions and practices to enrich spiritual formation today.
In “A New Kind of Christianity” (HarperOne, 2010), Brian articulated ten questions that are central to the emergence of a postmodern, post-colonial Christian faith. His 2011 HarperOne release, “Naked Spirituality,” offers “simple, doable, and durable” practices to help people deepen their life with God.
Brian’s “Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?” (September 2012) explores the intersection of religious identity, inter-religious hostility, and human solidarity.
His 2014 release, We Make the Road by Walking, offers an overview of the Bible and Christian faith in 52 short chapters that can be read aloud in about twelve minutes each. His 2016 release, The Great Spiritual Migration, explores why people are leaving traditional congregations and what they are looking for.
In 2017, he rewrote We Make the Road by Walking as a daily devotional called Seeking Aliveness, and he helped create study resources (readers guide, leaders guide, video) for The Great Spiritual Migration called Way of Life.
His 2018-2019 releases include two books co-authored with Gareth Higgins, Cory and the Seventh Story, an illustrated children’s book for young readers (ages 6-10, and grown-ups too), and an adult companion book, The Seventh Story: Us, Them, and the End of Violence. The Galapagos Islands: A Spiritual Journey is an eco-spiritual travel memoir, and as released in the UK as God Unbound: Theology in the Wild.
Faith After Doubt (2021) makes the bold proposition that only doubt can save the world (and your faith). And Do I Stay Christian? (2022) helps struggling Christians address the questions of whether and how to stay Christian when the term can mean irreconcilable things.
Brian’s books have been translated into many languages, including Korean, Chinese, French, Swedish, Norwegian, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. He has written for or contributed interviews to many periodicals, including Leadership, Sojourners, Tikkun, Worship Leader, and Conversations. He is an active and popular blogger, a musician, and a songwriter, offering a variety of resources through his website, www.brianmclaren.net.
A frequent guest on television, radio, and news media programs, he has appeared on All Things Considered, Larry King Live, Nightline, On Being, and Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. His work has also been covered in Time, New York Times, Christianity Today, Christian Century, the Washington Post, Huffington Post, CNN.com, and many other print and online media.
He has taught or lectured at many seminaries and at denominational and interfaith gatherings.
Brian is married to Grace, and they have four adult children and five grandchildren. His personal interests include wildlife and ecology, fly fishing and kayaking, music and songwriting, and literature.