Thursday, February 18, 2010

classic Brian McLaren

Brian McLaren has a new book, "A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith." Out of these 10 issues, there are 5 or 6 that must be discussed with biblical sensitivity and freshness. However, it doesn't appear as though he accomplishes that.

His 10 questions are:
  1. The narrative question: What is the overarching story line of the Bible? For McLaren, the familiar story line of creation, fall, redemption, consummation (with heaven and hell as a result) is a grotesque Greco-Roman distortion of the biblical narrative. God the creator, liberator, reconciler is the real story line.

  2. The authority question: How should the Bible be understood? Not as a constitution, argues McLaren, with laws and rules and arguments about who’s right and wrong. Rather, we go to the Bible as a community library, where internal consistency is not presumed and we learn by conversation.

  3. The God question: Is God violent? Believers used to think so, but we ought to grow in maturity from fearing a violent tribal God to partnering with a Christlike God.

  4. The Jesus question: Who is Jesus and why is he important? Jesus is never violent and does not condemn. He did not come to save people from hell. Jesus, says McLaren, is peace-loving and identifies with the weak and oppressed.

  5. The gospel question: What is the gospel? It is not a message about how to get saved. The gospel is the announcement of a “new kingdom, a new way of life, and a new way of peace that carried good news to all people of every religion” (139).

  6. The church question: What do we do about the church? Churches—in whatever form and whatever we call them—exist to form people of Christlike love. This is the church’s primary calling, to form people who live in the way of love, the way of peacemaking.

  7. The sex question: Can we find a way to address human sexuality without fighting about it? We need to stop hating gay people and welcome them fully into the life of the church. The “sexually other” may be defective in traditional religion, but they are loved and included in a new kind of Christianity.

  8. The future question: Can we find a better way of viewing the future? No more “soul-sort” universe where our team goes to heaven and the bad guys go to hell. The future is open, inviting our participation. In the end, God’s mercy will triumph and all shall be well.

  9. The pluralism question: How should followers of Jesus relate to people of other religions? “Christianity has a nauseating, infuriating, depressing record when it comes to encountering people of other religions” (208). There is not us/them, insider/outsider. Jesus accepted everyone and so should we.

  10. The what-do-we-do-now question: How can we translate our quest into action? The human quest for God has known many stages. Those in the more mature stages of the quest should gently invite others to grow into fuller maturity, but without being divisive.

Kevin DeYoung has an excellent, healthy, and clear response. Here.


Brandon said...

Pardon my heresy, but I kinda like Brian McClaren. And I'm a little distrusting towards hip reformed guys like Kevin Deyoung.

I'm not going to lie, but I think that McClaren asks 10 very important questions. I don't expect to agree with all of McClaren's answers, but I'm pretty interested to hear what he has to say.

jim thompson said...

ha... "pardon my heresy." i'm going to steal that one. and furthermore, i too get scared of trendy calvinism. i never want to be known in association with that label.

so, on to Mr McLaren.

i am very much with you, agreeing with McLaren's question-asking poignancy... "out of these 10 issues, there are 5 or 6 that must be discussed with biblical sensitivity and freshness."

i would say that questions 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 8 are potent questions that have not always been answered as fully as they should. these also seem to be the questions that are most directly dealt with in the Scriptures.

McLaren always has good things to say because he was an English major! it is his second nature to say things in great way. however, from previous things i've read from him, i can't agree with him on all issues. still, it'll be a purchase someday. if you get it first, let me know how it goes.

.Colin. said...

There needs to be a pendulum swing, but McLaren usually takes it too far

I flat out dont think he has very good things to say, and that what he says and does is just as divisive as those whom he criticizes for being dogmatists.

I'm afraid McLaren is all too good at hermeneuting around hard issues in scriptures and simplifying Chritianity into a religion thats about some nebulous and vaugue "love."

I want to see him obey the words of scripture and take them even when it doesnt make him want to lift his hands sing.

all this to say, i will be reading this book to (trying to simply read it and not pick it apart) see what he is saying since he is an influential force in the church today.

sorry to seem rabid about the issue, ive just seen people influenced by this type of writing mistrusting the written word and disdaining the church because of it.

jim thompson said...

we will all converge again after reading! :)