Early on NEO seems to use the straw man that many today use, that of finding those who do not apply the scripture correctly and applying it to all. Of these arguments is the often used one of slavery. To say that because some Christians condoned slavery all that claim the bible as authoritative are wrong is using a straw man that burns easily. To say that Christians that claim the authority of scripture do not recognize the so called traditional grid they supposedly see scripture through is a ploy to stop an argument by simply saying one does not see what they think they see.
When NEO speaks to fallibility of man and thus them not really being able to interpret scripture authoritatively he is waling down the popular post-modern mindset. To deny absolute truth and being able to discern it denies what the bible says is truth and absolute. One cannot simply state that the only way one sees this is because they are looking through so called modern glasses. By trying to move from the authority of scripture to Jesus the route used neglects the fact that scripture is where we see and hear God. So scripture can be the foundation because it is the written revelation fo God and thus God’s word to us.
To imply that those that seek concrete answers from scriptures are not “humble seekers” is make an unnecessary conclusion. But, from Mclaren’s view (I mean NEO) this needs to be done as it would not fit nicely for there to be answers that would make something right and other things wrong.
I agree with the thought that scripture is often turned into moralisms but that only speaks to a wrong understanding of scripture and not necessarily a modernistic view. Even if it was a modernistic view this does not presuppose that a post-modern reading is better. The proposed reading of scripture very much sounds like the reader-response reading method which allows the text to say what ever you want as ling as it says it to you (whatever that means).
As we move on we seem to be getting into the ever deepening quagmire of post-modernism. To imply that truth is some moving nebulous thing allows for people to generate their own truth and that truth can not be questioned because it is the individual’s truth. This chapter reveals what I seemed to hear when I heard Mclaren on Larry King in that he does not want to answer anything that may place him on one side of an issue or the other. Thus the ploy is not to answer because in the minds of the post-modern world it seems that there are no real answers. In response to some of what is said in chapter 8 I need ask: Why does cultural change in truth have to drive scriptural truth?
When NEO speaks of a non combative way of sharing one’s faith I would have to say this is entirely possible without entering the post-modern world. It is true that Christians have begun to rely to greatly on apologetics and less on God but this again is not reason to abandon reason and truth.
It is in this chapter that I think NEO and thus Mclaren reveals a gospel that is not the gospel. NEO says on page 65: “And I really believe that not one person will be in real contact with God the Father apart from the work and wisdom and love of Jesus.” But what does it mean to be in “real contact with God” and where is Christ’s sacrifice for sin in this message. Is the gospel to NEO a life enhancement program? Interestingly this is much the same view of the gospel espoused by the seeker sensitive movement of which many in the Emergent church seem to be reacting against. The more things change the more they stay the same.
Well that is all for now more to follow. I realize that some of what I have said needs to be built on more but this is simply my thoughts as I read through the book. As I read more I see more of what is so dangerous in the goal of many in the Emergent movement, that of reaching a post-modern culture. In trying to reach a people the church begins to morph into post-modernity, which contrary to NEO is not a good thing.
Grace and Peace,