I’ve heard Brian speak a number of times, have been involved in interviewing him (with Imbi) on two occasions and, although I may not agree with all he writes, I’ve found him to be one of the gentlest people I’ve ever met. He epitomizes the gracious Christian. When I grow up, I want to be like him. (I’m actually a year older than Brian – and have little hope of ever growing up.)
Yet McLaren is the target of vicious attacks, regularly, from those who claim to be followers of Christ. He’s called every manner of heretic possible – from many who only know his writing through the often ill-informed opinions of others. And some of his internet critics refuse to confront him even when they are in the same room and there’s an open forum to ask questions. (If you follow the link, read the first ten or so comments.)
Brian pens A Friendly Note to His Critics:
…I hope that if you are among my good Christian critics, you will aspire to be a good Christian in the way you respond to my writings, even if you think I am a bad Christian for what I write or the questions I raise. We have a chance to model constructive dialogue rather than the religious bickering which has too often characterized all our religious communities. Even if I am as wrong you think I am, what good would it be to prove a wrong person wrong if in the process right people prove themselves mean-spirited, unfair, unreflective, inaccurate, dishonest, or hypocritical?
One final request. I hope that none of us will spend so much time in internal debate about our beliefs that we neglect putting our beliefs into action. It would be tragic for both you and me if our differences distracted us and others from what religion is supposed to be about: helping widows and orphans and others in need, and keeping ourselves “unspotted from the world,” as James says.
Read the whole thing, please.