Today I want to look at some words from Brian D. McLaren in his book A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith
Our faith is vain and self-centered if it only brings blessing for us or to us. It also must result in blessing that flows through us to the world…..
If we locate Jesus primarily in light of the story that has unfolded since his time on earth, we will understand him in one way. But if we see him emerging from within a story that had been unfolding through his ancestors, and if we primarily locate him in that story, we might understand him in a very different way. Once I had acknowledged (albeit roughly and crudely) these two very different ways of understanding Jesus, and once I acknowledged that nobody in the Hebrew Scriptures ever talked about original sin, total depravity, “the Fall,” or eternal conscious torment in hell, a suspicion began to grow in me about where the six-lined narrative might possibly have come from. I was able to articulate it a few months later in a conversation with a friend, as I recounted my little exercise in setting up the backward and frontward lines of sight to see Jesus: “What we call the biblical story line isn’t the shape of the story of Adam, Abraham, and their Jewish descendants. It’s the shape of the Greek philosophical narrative that Plato taught! That’s the descent into Plato’s cave of illusion and the ascent into philosophical enlightenment.”
More and more people are coming to realize that the person of Jesus who we thought we knew was actually made up by others who came many years after him. I have not yet studied much about the thoughts of Plato but I do know that they had a profound affect on Augustine and that Augustine had a profound affect on shaping the fourth century church. As pointed above when we look at Hebrew Scripture which was the foundations for our Old Testament we don’t find many of the things that some now consider to be foundational to Christianity. That fact and knowing that Jesus didn’t actually say anything about them causes me to come to one conclusion and that is they are actually derived from human thoughts after the fact.
Yes, I do think that God continues to give us personal revelation even today so why can’t I just believe that all the things that man invented after Jesus was given to them by revelation? The main reason I can’t is because much of it has nothing to do with the messages Jesus gave us while he was on the earth and they have little or nothing to do with the messages he did give us. I am totally convinced that much of the history of the church was definitely not from Jesus. This includes the Constantine era when the church leaders were corrupted by worldly power. It includes the pre-Reformation period when grace was being sold to build bigger and bigger cathedrals. It also includes periods like the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the burning of heretics. These action were certainly a result of the lust of power by the people of the times. They were not from Christ.
As Mr. McLaren points out in the book above the emergent church movement is attempting to go back to those things that Jesus did teach and to discard much of the past baggage loaded on the church by succeeding generations. We do not owe allegiance to our ancestors but instead only to Jesus himself. It is time to come to realize the difference between the two.
Finally it is also time to heed the first sentence in the quote above. Our faith should not result in vain and self-centered thoughts focused on self. Our faith must result in blessings that flow through us to the world…