Archives For McLaren

They had turned the way of Jesus, I felt, into the club of the Pharisees, and they didn’t speak for me, even though their spokesmen dominated the dialogue night after night on cable TV. The terms “Evangelical” and even “Christian” had become like discredited brands through their energetic but misguided work.

I increasingly understood why more and more of my friends winced when the name “Jesus” was mentioned in public. It wasn’t due to a loss of respect for Jesus, but for those who most used his name. In spite of all this, few of my fellow pastors and leaders had the courage to speak out for fear of losing members or their contributions. For a while, I’m ashamed to say, I was among their silent number.

A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith (McLaren, Brian D.)

The above words are one of the things that anger me about today’s church. The ones who seem to have it right just will not take a stand against those who are polluting the name of Jesus!!

I know that the author of the words above is considered a “liberal” by many of the  fundamentalist evangelicals and therefore is not to be trusted with God’s word (their words not mine). Here is a little about what Wikipedia says about him.

Many of the books that McLaren has written, including the “A New Kind of Christian” trilogy, deal with Christianity in the context of the cultural shift towards postmodernism. McLaren believes this theology enables him to approach faith from what he considers a more Jewish perspective which allows faith to exist without objective, propositional truth to believe. He has also challenged traditional evangelicals’ emphasis on individual salvation, end-times theology and the prosperity gospel. He also creates an antithesis between personal trust in God and belief in his propositions:

“I believe people are saved not by objective truth, but by Jesus. Their faith isn’t in their knowledge, but in God.” – Brian McLaren

It takes courage to strike out against those who pollute the name of Jesus and there are many out there that do just that. They want to put one form of selfish message on Jesus to tell you that he wants everyone to be millionaires or other such things.

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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…