Wednesday, September 26, 2007

McLaren's New Book

Well Brian McLaren has another new book coming out, Everything Must Change, and here is what is being said about it in an email I somehow got, my comments interspersed:

In Everything Must Change, you will accompany Brian around the world on a search for answers (is not the Bible enough, why do we need to go to the world for answers about God). Along the way you'll experience intrigue, alarm, challenge, insight, and hope. You'll get a fresh and provocative vision of Jesus and his teachings (we do not need a fresh view of Jesus we need a Biblical view). And you'll see how his core message can infuse us with purpose and passion to address the economic, environmental, military, political, and social dysfunctions (I would suppose these dysfuntions are those defined by McLaren as dysfunctional) that have overtaken our world (I thought the Gospel was about God bringing a people to Himself, here is where the social Gospel of old shines through).

Jesus' message is more than a ticket to heaven or a formula for personal prosperity ( I agree whole heartedly, as we all should). It is an invitation to personal and global transformation (there we go again as the message of Christ is hijacked for another agenda). It is a radical challenge to the underlying stories that drive our social systems--social, economic, and political. It invites us to imagine what would happen

- if people of faith moved beyond political polarization and a few hot-button issues to the deeper questions nobody is asking ( I agree that Christians often choose some issues and conveniently ignore others but this does not mean we should not take stands where God takes stands).
- if the worlds' leading nations spent less on weapons and more on peace-making, poverty-alleviation, and creation-care.
- if a renewed understanding of Jesus and his message sparked a profound spiritual awakening in a global movement of faith, hope, and love ( I do believe that we need to renew an understanding of Christ and the cross but McLaren’s message does not do that).
- if we believed that God's will really could be done on earth and not just in heaven (What does he mean by this and does he really mean that Brian’s will would be done).

If you're are hungry for a fresh vision of what it means to be a person of faith, Everything Must Change applies the good news of Jesus to a world in need, igniting a revolution of hope that can change everything. Beginning with you. Beginning now (again missing is that the good news, the Gospel that McLaren proclaims, does not seem to match the Gospel of scripture. Yes we are called to do many things and to follow the commands of Christ but that is not the Good New, the Gospel is that through Christ our Great High Priest we can come to God, everything else flows from that)

Now, I do believe that the church needs to change but it is not the change that McLaren envisions. I also believe that people have missed the message of the cross, but again not as McLaren seems to see things. We should agree that Jesus’ message is not simply a ticket to heaven. But, McLaren’s real message is just as legalistic as the “fundamentalists” he often seems to be pointing to. He feels that the key to a vibrant faith is doing something and in his case it is simply the social gospel of old.

Don’t get me wrong we are to help the poor, feed the hungry and love our neighbor but the problem is that one has to have the right heart and that right heart does not come from the doing of “good” things but from Christ and the cross.

The message that needs to be proclaimed by churches is that the cross changes people. It is Christ’s sacrifice in His life, death and resurrection and His being our great High Priest that transforms. If one were to read the book of Hebrews you would see that the cross is the vital to our faith as that is what opens the veil (Heb 6:19-20) to allow us to be brought to God. As far as doing good, reading Hebrews 6:9-12 shows that it is the love for God, for His name, that results in the work of caring for the saints and not the other way around. Yes we are to care for others but that care has to be grounded in a correct understanding of the cross as Hebrews deals with.

So what I find interesting as I read McLaren is that he speaks little of the cross, in a Biblical manner, and much about social work but we cannot accomplish the social changes he desires with the heart God desires unless we are brought to God by the life, death and resurrection of Christ. By the way none of this is a secret as it stands bold and clear in all of scripture and is made abundantly clear in Hebrews.

I would suggest that instead of reading McLaren you read God’s Word. Scripture is there bolding proclaiming who Christ is, what He has done and the results that He empowers His people to do. There is no Secret Message and while we as a Church do need to change it does not start where McLaren starts it but it starts with Christ and a correct understanding of the Gospel.

Before someone says “how can I say this all without reading the book” let me say this e-mail came from those advertising a book tour of sorts. Also, I have listened to McLaren and read some of his writings and he says little that is new in what I have seen.

1 comment:

franklin said...

Hey, saw your comment (#20) at Challiesdotcom and couldn't agree more. The real problem w/ McLaren is he is preaching LAW! In fact, I've come to conclude that the real problem isn't Emergent vs. Traditional, etc. The real problem is what it has always been: Gospel vs. Law.

Amazing how quickly we are drawn away after another gospel...which is not Gospel at all!