Posted by: minnow | September 15, 2008

Personal Defense of Brian McLaren

So how has Brian McLaren given me hope for the Church?  I should probably give a little back ground (although if you have read some of my other posts you may have figured all this out already).  I feel like I have come to the party a little late even though new folks are finding the party all the time.  By “the party” I mean those within the Church who have grown up under a conservative evangelical strain of Christianity but have become discontent with the status quo.  The question I started this post with was asked of me by a person on whose blog I posted a comment.  I do not recall for sure what I wrote him because I wrote several similar comments that day but I probably said something to the effect of “reading McLaren’s book Generous Orthodoxy  caused me to give the Church a second chance.”  You see I had just about reached the point of walking away from the Church, never returning, and avoiding anyone I could identify as a “Christian” by way of their praise vocabulary. 

Instead of seeing McLaren as divisive I see him embracing many facets of the Christian faith from a wide range of doctrinal expressions.  For me, his reluctance to pick one expression and reject the rest has given me hope that Christ’s prayer, “Father, make them one as we are one,” actually has a chance of being answered in the positive.   I did not experience his books Generous Orthodoxy  or The Secret Message of Jesus  as throwing out scripture but rather as redirecting our focus to parts of scripture we seemingly had thrown out in our zeal to make following Jesus an easy to follow formula.  When he challenges some of the traditions of Man or some of our black and white attitudes he is not challenging the authority of God, but he just might be giving chase to some of the “money lenders” in the temple.  Truthfully, I was relieved to find out that someone else (popular enough to write a book so that probably meant there were more of us) felt some of the same discontent I had been fighting most of my adult life.

So, while I’m not too crazy about Building-Based Christianity both Brian McLaren and Shane Claiborne, another emerging kind of guy, have overtly encouraged discontent Christians to hang on.  I am not throwing the baby out with the bath water but I am ready to see the bathwater swirl down the drain.  Does this mean that Brian McLaren has never said anything that is a bit out there, beyond the box, and heading for the edge of the cliff?  No.  But then from my point of view I’ve heard some inside the box things Amen-ed and seconded that quite frankly I believe are outside God’s will.  Personally, I would rather be outside the box.

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