UPDATE: Brian McLaren graciously responds to this post, my previous post on Framing the Discussion and my later post where I have Questions for him (which he responds to).
I have no time today to write a substantive review of Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christianity. (As an independent producer/director, I have work that needs to get finished.) So I will point you at two reviewers that I would recommend you read and some further background for the on-going discussion.
Mike Wittmer has begun a series on the book. He’s on Question 2 right now. Of course, Mike is part of the Military Industrial Complex Theological Seminary/Church Leadership Vested Interest Group (TS/CLVIG for short) and a Kuyperian, no less. You’ve been warned. Here are direct links to his Introduction and Question 1.
The second link is to Darryl Dash in a review that is possibly stronger and more blunt than I’ve ever heard him before. He quotes Brian on the need to rethink the whole Christian enterprise,
At some point, though, more and more of us will finally decide that it would make more sense to go back and revise the contract from scratch. And that work has begun. It is nowhere near complete, but the cat is out of the bag… [emphasis added by Darryl]
And Darryl responds,
And that cat is on a tear. McLaren attempts the impossible, essentially tossing out what you always thought was true, and starting again from scratch. The Fall of Genesis 3? That’s really a coming-of-age story. The storyline of the Bible? It’s really about the downside of progress, and about how good prevails in the end anyway. The Bible is a community library, and the violent, tribal God of the Genesis flood is “hardly worthy of belief, much less worship” – but those were early days, and our view of God is always changing. Jesus didn’t come to start a new religion, nor is Christianity the answer in itself. In short, almost everything you know about God, the Bible, and Christianity is wrong, according to McLaren. [emphasis added]
McLaren is quite upfront that his theology has been powerfully informed by Harvey Cox’s The Reason for Faith and by the theology of Marcus Borg. (He identifies Borg as a fellow emergent traveller and Cox winds his way through McLaren’s footnotes.) So you might find Borg’s BeliefNet post on John 14:6 informative – as it squares with that of Brian’s understanding of the verse in ANKoC. And this will give a little taste of the theology of Cox along with this. (I confess that I find Cox’s definition of the present “Age of the Spirit” rather bizarre – as if the Holy Spirit was incapable of doing much until now. An extremely low view of the power of the Spirit I would posit.)
As pointed to in the previous post, Jeremy Bouma has begun a series that investigates and questions the theology of the Emergent Village wing of the Emerging Church. As Brian has been and still is a key leader in the theology of EV, Jeremy’s posts are important to the discussion.
I also want to point you to my friend Sonja, blogging as Calacrian, and her post from this morning that begins with a Frost poem that has been resonating of late for me, as well.
…we’ve come to a place where there are a goodly number of people who are comfortable with the way things are (or are headed) in the emerging conversation. But there are also a goodly number of people who (for a variety of reasons) are no longer comfortable with it. Me, I feel like Robert Frost standing at the two roads diverging in the woods. Do we really have to choose?
This discussion around Emergent and ANKoC is going to be hard. Lines have already been drawn. (I hear, “nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong” echoing that last sentence.)
I was awake until 4am last night struggling with this stuff. Wondering how a conversation that had begun in part about oppression had itself become oppressive – where transparency would be talked about but not practiced. Where questioners would have shame labels hung around their necks – while the questioned would play the victim card. It has begun to feel like the Twilight Zone or perhaps what my kids once called Opposites Day.
I awoke this morning to an interlocutor suggesting I was in league with Screwtape – because I dared to ask questions – of an Emergent leader.
That is the level of dis-ease in this discussion. Which extends further and deeper than the present presenting symptoms – as stories of betrayal, infidelity and coverup are woven into the very fabric of the marketing of this new kind of Emergent Christianity.
And yes, Bob, Screwtape is laughing. But at what or whom, exactly?