Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Brian McClaren File


This Changes Everything: An Interview with Brian McLaren
posted by Melvin Bray @ 2/06/2008


"Q: Some might say that heretofore environmentalism, conservationism and other such movements have been very much focused on staving off the catastrophe that is our inevitable future. In this perhaps they find some small common ground with the predominant trends in eschatology. In what ways do you believe the way of Jesus speaks into these convergent themes of inevitable doom, transforming them into meaningful efforts of hope and sustainability?

A: Many Christians seem to believe that God’s relationship with the universe is deterministic, that God has already filmed the future in his mind, and what we’re seeing unfold in history is the showing of a movie that’s already “in the can” so to speak. I don’t believe that. I believe God’s relationship with creation—including us—is interactive. God gives us warnings, which are an invitation to change our ways. God gives us promises, which are an invitation to persevere when the going gets tough. A great example is the prophet Jonah. He was sent to Nineveh to prophesy doom, in hopes that the people would repent so the prophecy wouldn’t come true."

[Brian misses again.... For him God is not sovereign. What about all the prophecy that was fulfilled?]
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Interview with Author Brian McLaren
~ by Samir Selmanovic Sep 18, 2007


"This is really one of the key themes of my life – this belief that the issue isn’t Christianity, but Jesus. Depending on your background and what you’re exposed to, the Christian religion can have more or less credibility and appeal. But Jesus has an almost universal appeal. So that’s where I want to work from – not a “Christianity-centered” viewpoint, but from a Christ-centered viewpoint. In the book, I try to take Jesus’ teachings and example and show what resources they can bring to people today in grappling with global crises – whatever the religion of the people is who are getting involved. I don’t want to make the Christian religion the issue, or Western Civilization the issue, or whatever … I want to help people see the resources that Jesus offers to everybody as we and future generations face unprecedented global crises."

[ Is it just me, or is this another reiteration of the old quest for the "historical Jesus"?]
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Leaders call 'Emerging Church Movement' a threat to Gospel Posted on Mar 23, 2005 by David Roach

"When asked whether a person must trust Christ as dying to make atonement for sin in order to be a Christian, McLaren replied, "I want to help people understand everything they can about the cross. ... I wouldn't say that having that understanding (Jesus dying as a substitute for sinful humanity) is all that it means to be a Christian. I think that some people might have that understanding and not be interested in following Jesus. They want Jesus' blood to pay for their sins so they can go to heaven, but they aren't really interested in following Jesus in this life."..."

[So what if "some people might have that understanding and not be interested in following Jesus." What a few "might" do invalidates the doctrine? Maybe it is not all there is to being a Christian but the Apostle Paul makes it a pretty core and indispensable item in I Cor. 15.]

1 comment:

A. B. Caneday said...

Hi, Bill!

I've been too busy to visit your blog for awhile.

Today, I took some time.

I have an observation on McLaren's response to the question at the top of this entry.

McLaren states, "Many Christians seem to believe that God’s relationship with the universe is deterministic, that God has already filmed the future in his mind, and what we’re seeing unfold in history is the showing of a movie that’s already 'in the can' so to speak. I don’t believe that. I believe God’s relationship with creation—including us—is interactive. God gives us warnings, which are an invitation to change our ways. God gives us promises, which are an invitation to persevere when the going gets tough. A great example is the prophet Jonah. He was sent to Nineveh to prophesy doom, in hopes that the people would repent so the prophecy wouldn’t come true."

The fundamental problem with McLaren's response to the question is that he caricatures the position with which he disagrees.

I think that it is reasonable to understand that McLaren thinks that he is representing Calvin's/Luther's/Augustine's belief by saying, Many Christians seem to believe that God’s relationship with the universe is deterministic, that God has already filmed the future in his mind, and what we’re seeing unfold in history is the showing of a movie that’s already "in the can" so to speak.

This is a gross misrepresentation of Calvinism/Augustinianism. It is a gross caricature of what you and I believe.

On the other hand, I cannot disagree with what McLaren says when he states, I believe God’s relationship with creation—including us—is interactive. God gives us warnings, which are an invitation to change our ways. God gives us promises, which are an invitation to persevere when the going gets tough. A great example is the prophet Jonah. He was sent to Nineveh to prophesy doom, in hopes that the people would repent so the prophecy wouldn’t come true.

McLaren does not state the matter quite as well as I would prefer, for instead of saying, I believe God’s relationship with creation—including us—is interactive., I would say, I believe God’s relationship with creation—including us—is covenantal. Interactive is not the biblical category; covenantal is the biblical category.

What is my concern and what is my point? It is not McLaren's formal affirmation of belief that is problematic in itself. Rather, it is his repudiation of a belief that he thoroughly caricatures that is the problem. After caricaturing Calvinism he rejects Calvinism. What is the problem here? He does not offer the slightest hint that he has any accurate or truthful understanding of Calvinism. Hence, he provides not the slightest hint that he has any accurate or truthful understanding of Scripture's teaching concerning God's relationship with his created order despite the fact that what he positively affirms formally agrees with what Scripture teaches. This is, I believe, the precise flaw with Open Theism and with Open Theists, also. They do exactly the same thing. They caricature Calvinism/Augustinianism and then repudiate the caricature. This is McLaren's error.

Here, then, is a classic illustration of the cruciality of what we both affirm and deny. If we deny a wholly fabricated caricature of beliefs concerning Scripture and then contrast our affirmations over against that fabricated caricature of beliefs, we prove to be traitors to the cause of truth. For if we truly love truth, we are obligated to represent truthfully those beliefs and systems of beliefs that we repudiate. Otherwise, when we contrast our beliefs with caricatured beliefs, we introduce profound confusion and falsehood and we do serious injury to truth and to the cause of truth.

In other words, if we expect to be taken seriously as purveyors of truth and not as purveyors of lies and of falsehoods, we are obligated to speak the truth not only concerning what we affirm but also concerning what we deny. Failure to do this renders many false teachers.