McLaren: Whipping Boy for the Conservative Church

I am amazed at the response I get to the writings of Brian McLaren.

It fascinates me the things people see in his words. He has regularly been vilified as a proponent of relativism (denying the validity of truth altogether), and is used as a by-word to scare people from the pulpits of conservative Churches nation-wide...

I happen to think he is a much-needed voice in the Western Church.

He has written one of the best books on the Kingdom of God that I have ever read (at least from the perspective of a pastor; looking for a book that is accessable to non-academics, personally applicable and engaging, and covers the range of the topic), has a firm grasp on the pulse of our post-Christian culture, seems to have real insight on how to preach the gospel in such a context, and he is a constant voice for intellectual humility amongst Christians.

I find his challenge to the Western Church to be spot on. We have become, in many instances, a self-contained sub-culture, completely irrelevant to the world. (I know the word relevance gets spit upon by conservative Christians, "what it really means is syncretism, going soft, letting the culture dictate to us, etc." but the simple fact is that God is NOT irrelevant to the world, and if we are, it is because we are out of sync with Him...)

I certainly don't want to go on record affirming everything he has said, but I do want to get him a legitimately honest and open hearing, before he is condemned to the Tower of the Inquisitor!

SO, let's have it, what exactly is your problem with McLaren?



You know the old joke:

Poli-tics is a Latin phrase meanings 'multiple blood sucking creatures.'

I couldn't help but think of this when I came across the following phrase:

A columnist in the local paper referred to the congressional changing of the guard in 2006 as accomplishing nothing "except alter the label on the enema bottle..."

...amused chuckling...


I have had a few political conversations lately and it had me thinking through a few things. I am not a political junkie, but I keep an ear to what is going on. I read the local paper and listen to conservative and liberal talk radio throughout the day in my work truck; but I don't watch TV. I am independent and have only voted once for a member of either major party, I have what would be 'conservative' stances on some issues, and 'liberal' ones on others, but I am far too firm (even extreme) on most of my positions to be called a 'moderate.'

But here is where the rubber meets the road.

I am very firm on my political opinions, and I hold them because I believe them to be correct (I know that this seems redundant, but in today's intellectual climate it needs to be stated!!) and yet, I don't find my convictions to be a sufficient motivation to portray those with whom I disagree as incompetent, ignorant, or malevolent. It is precisely this that I find so repugnant about politics (as well as other arenas for intellectual debate):

The inability of most people to grant credibility to those with opposing views.

Without this willingness to allow others to hold opinions divergent from ours, we can never engage in real conversation and debate. You can't have intellectual debate if the real underlying issue is not the policy at hand but rather it is simply that your opponent is stupid, ignorant, or evil. If we never engage in honest interaction with those who differ from us, then how can we actually claim to believe that what we assert is in any sense of the word 'true?' If we are afraid to engage with others who hold different opinions without claiming that they are defective human beings, then we are really saying we have no faith in the veracity of our convictions. If, conversely, we believe our assertions to be accurate than we would welcome the opportunity for robust, lively, and cordial challenges to those assertions.

It is precisely this that I believe is necessary to any real dialogue:

A willingness to grant legitimacy to ones opponents.

This willingness should not be confused for a lack of resolve about ones owns opinions, moral character, or intellectual rigor. This willingness is not about our assurance of the truth, but rather about our honoring other human beings as such, as well as our resolute stance in open and honest pursuit of the truth!

Unfortunately politicians on both sides (and people in general) tend to be lacking in such a willingness. It is this emphatic need to demonize opponents that the younger generation finds so repulsive in the American Church.


N T Wright Interview

The cure is more complicated than the diagnosis, yes?

It is and it isn't. The relief of global debt has actually been figured out. There are serious economists and bankers who have worked on this. I'm not an economist or a banker, but I have seen and talked to people in that field. They've got strategies where if you do this now, then you can do that next year, and so on. There would be ways through. Somebody said the sort of broad-brush sums we're talking about would cost, say, America roughly the amount that it spends on going to the movies each year. It would cost roughly that amount to put the whole thing back the right way around. Then we could all proceed together. What really sticks in my throat is that while all this is going on, the American government, along with my own government and several others, talk about bringing freedom and justice to the world, when we are doing the precise opposite. Use of imperial rhetoric to cover up our own consistent greed . if we have any Christian moral courage, this is what we ought to be talking about. Face it, we are in a world where two-thirds of the people are poor and crying for justice. One-third of the people are rich and wanting more sex. I want to say, what is wrong with this picture? This cannot be the way the Creator-God intended the cosmos to work.