Archive for the 'Brian McLaren' Category
I trust many of you have had a chance to read Tim Keller’s article, ‘The Gospel in All its Forms‘ and you’ll be happy to know that one of his talks at the recent Dwell Conference expands upon the material in his article (download the talk entitled ‘Dwelling in the Gospel‘). What I’d like to get to hear now is how you responded to the point he’s making: that essentially there is one gospel in the bible but it appears in many different forms in different parts of the Bible. I’d also like to hear how you feel about the implicit (or possibly explicit) criticism that he’s laying at the feet of traditional evangelicals. Or perhaps if you’re from a more ‘emergent’ persuasion and you’ve listened to the talk you would have noted his critique of the view the Neo espouses in Mclaren’s ‘A New Kind of Christian’ which is essentially that the gospel is too diverse and contextualized to speak of one single gospel (James Dunn’s view in the article).
My own view is firstly, that the gospel that Tim Keller is promoting is the biblical gospel and we’re the poorer for not embracing it in it’s richness. Secondly though, and following on from my first thought, I think this article is extemely important and deserves a wide readership – or maybe Tim needs to write a book on it. Thirdly I think this understanding of the gospel, held in balance, will change the face of our churches. What did you think? I’d love to here from the two guys who I know read this blog and were at that Dwell Conference – Grant and Chris, nudge, nudge, wink, wink;)
…well at least according to Dr Graeme Codrington. That is one of his summations of Carson’s ‘horrific’ book ‘Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church‘. Now I know the title of this post was provocative and that this whole issue is actually a bit of an old wound that doesn’t really need uncovering but I just felt that I needed to chip in with my two cents.
Now before entering this discussion its become customary, I’ve noticed, to lay out your credentials – as in you’ve read ‘x’ amount of books on the emerging church, subscribed to ‘x’ amount of podcasts, met and chatted with Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt and read ‘x’ amount of emerging blogs. So what are my credentials? Well I’ve read a few EC books, I’ve downloaded a few Rob Bell sermons and the odd talk from Tony Jones, I’ve seen Brian McLaren from a distance at a talk he gave in Stellenbosch – oh and Doug Pagitt commented on this blog once! Not a very impressive list, but it’ll do for now. In light of that I want to offer my own super brief critique of Carson’s book:
I thought it was desperately too narrow in terms of its focus – it simply singled out a few people in the EC.
I thought some people (like Steve Chalke) were incorrectly associated to the EC.
From what I understand Carson did almost nothing prior to writing the book with regards to contacting and speaking with EC practitioners.
I thought it, at times, betrayed a lack of understanding as to what the EC is trying to achieve.
I thought the title was terribly misleading.
And I thought that way too many EC people were painted with a ‘hard postmodernist’ brush unfairly.
I still think Carson made some important observations about those he did critique.
I think he did stress a number of times that the EC was way broader than his critique.
I think some of his concerns hit the Emergent Village spot on.
I think there are a number of high profile EC figures who are steeped in ‘hard postmodernism’.
All in all I think the book failed to really be conversant with the Emerging Church. But calling the book ‘horrific’? Suggesting that Carson blatantly included lies? Come on! I’m becoming increasingly frustrated by this sort of polemic and its beginning to make consider my engagement with the EC in general. Dr Graeme Codrington is a well known figure in South African church circles and if he’s going to air his opinions about the book then I feel that I, coming from a different perspective need to voice mine (with whatever little voice I have) just to ensure that people out there realise there’s more than one side to this story. Graeme is concerned that this book will damage many people’s perspective of what could ultimately prove to be an extremely positive and rejuvenating movement within the church and I think he’s well within his right to point out what he finds misleading (as I think his father, Dr Reg Codrington, did quite fairly in the original post). I, however am equally concerned that some of the books and thinking that come out of this same movement may not only damage people’s perspective but rather the gospel itself. I’m also concerned when he appears to bend over backwards to condemn a work that, in my opinion, doesn’t deserve the level of criticism it is receiving in some quarters.
For what I consider a balanced approach to Carson’s book I refer you to Dr Mark DeVine’s critique. I know some of you are going to be hacked off with me for writing this post but I felt compelled to, having been influenced by Dr Carson so much in my thinking, spirituality and theology. The man makes mistakes in judgment, like all of us, but he is not a liar.
“Is Jesus a social, economic, and political revolutionary? Is the mission of the church primarily to confront society’s structures so they can be transformed? Or is its primary goal to confront individuals within these structures and pursue change in individuals that impact the structures they serve?” – Darrell Bock commenting on Jesus’ sermon in Luke 4 (Baker’s Exegetical Commentary on Luke 1:1-9:50, p.400)
Ok so the heading is a little misleading, but after reading this quote I couldn’t but help think that it does a good job of summarizing the difference between Brian McLaren’s view of the church’s purpose and my own personal view. As far as I can see McLaren and I want the same thing – we’ve just got radically different suggestions on how to get there.
Kevin Jamison made the following insightful little remark in the context of concerns that he holds about a certain ministry he used to be involved in. And although the remark concerns that particular ministry he also notes that this problem extends far wider to broader evangelicalism. Here’s what he had to say:
“It seems today that many Christians are more familiar with “Blue Like Jazz” and “Velvet Elvis” than they are with the book of Joshua, or even the book of Romans! Young Christians are trying to become “New Kinds of Christians” without ever really learning about the historic Christian faith.”
I must say that his sentiments ring so true with me. I’m beginning to meet younger Christians here in South Africa who are completely absorbed in that sort of literature but have never read large sections of scripture. And I say this as an out and out Donald Miller fan – I absolutely love his books. I fear though that a “New Kind of Christian” who doesn’t clearly understand an “Old Kind of Christianity” is going to end up as a “New Kind of Nothing Much”.
Who are the biggest ‘influencers’ in western Christianity today? Who are the real movers and shakers in the Christian public sphere? There’s only one guaranteed place to turn to for real answers when it comes to social influence: Facebook!
So here’s the top 10 Christian icons according to Facebook groups (…well the top 10 I could find, or chose to find anyway).
1. Rob Bell – Rob is the undisputed heavyweight of Christian Facebook leaders. His Nooma/Rob Bell group weighs in with 2775 members.
2. John Piper – The Pope of the Reformed tradition runs with a 1423 member group.
3. Donald Miller – Christian author of the moment Donald Miller weighs in with a group of 1203 members.
4. Mark Driscoll – The future Pope of the Reformed tradition ‘resurges’ into 4th spot with a group of 1059 members.
5. John MacArthur – Spreading Grace to You MacArthur rolls in at 5th with a group of 647 members.
6. Brian McLaren – Everyone is going to hell with Brian McLaren in this group of 624 members.
7. CJ Mahaney – If you’re Reformed and Charismatic then he’s your man! CJ whips out a group of 425 members.
8. Tim Keller – The missional maestro from New York racks up a group of 360 members.
9. Matt Chandler – The local ‘Village’ pastor steps up to the big league with a group of 264 members.
10. Benny Hinn – Through an absolute miracle Benny wiggles his way into the top 10 with a group of 215 members (although I couldn’t quite figure out if the group was an appreciation group or something he shouldn’t show to his family).
And there you have it – on the flawless authority of Facebook. (PS – let me about any other interesting ‘Christian Icon’ groups).
Brian McLaren on Christianity in the west:
“We have been arguing about the origin of species while an unprecedented extinction of species occurs on our watch; we’ve been fighting endlessly (and unproductively) about unborn children while achieving precious little for the already-born children in Darfur or Congo or Malawi or downtown Cincinnati. These stale expressions of bad faith have left many of us gasping for the fresh air of good faith.”
Hmmm…I better tell all those wonderful missionaries and Christian aids workers in Congo, Malawi and Darfur, that I regularly meet, to give up because they’re wasting their time – no one notices. I suppose I should tell that lovely couple, those friends of mine, not to bother with their ministry to children at risk on the Cape Flats because they should be picketing against abortion. Maybe I should suggest to my girlfriend that she give up working for a homeless organisation because us Christians don’t do that sort of thing, we debate evolution! Am I being facetious? Yes Iam, but come on Brian is that comment REALLY fair? Or is that the comment of someone who came from the most conservative twig on the most conservative branch of the most conservative tree?
Dr. Mark DeVine, the insightful and engaging theology prof, decides to re-read D.A. Carson’s ‘Becoming Conversant with the Emergent Church: Understanding a Movement and its Implications‘. As per usual he concludes that Carson only interacts with a particular segment of the emerging church – this is the cry of all the emerging church practitioners who didn’t enjoy Carson’s critique all that much. Yet in saying this DeVine goes on to point that he thinks Carson’s critique is quite accurate IN WHAT IT DOES CRITIQUE. Much of that critique centers around Brian McLaren and here’s a quote from DeVine regarding his views on this critique,
“Far from the mean, reductionistic treatment of McLaren some have charged him with, Carson is very thorough, fair, and even seems to look for every opportunity to praise McLaren where he can. For example Carson notes McLaren’s care in avoiding the simplistic notion modernism bad/postmodernism good-trap that so many others fall into. Nevertheless, Carson, through careful and footnoted examination of McLaren’s writings, exposes unbiblical conclusions, questionable analysis of culture, and contradictory assertions that characterize McLaren’s thinking. I read Carson before McLaren and when I got around to McLaren I took a bias against Carson with me. But, now having tried to read McLaren sympathetically with little success, I find Carson, upon second reading, very impressive indeed.”
Its funny, you go away for a couple weeks and everything seems to have changed. Looking into the blogosphere today is like driving through a new city; everything is different. Such is the nature of our world, ever changing which I suppose is why Brian McLaren has written a new book on why “Everything must Change”. Stephen posted something on this a while ago, he linked a review over at Tim Challies blog. But here is something from Scot McKnight, a friend of the Emergent. Should be interesting to see how he tackles this book. I have not read the book myself, but from first glance it seems interesting, especially since McLaren’s 4 systems seem to propose a certain metanarrative.
Its been cracked! My brother has figured out where Brian McLaren gets his inspiration from – the evidence is there, if you look carefully. (Don’t worry I’ll give ol’ Mac a rest after this one).
Tim Challies reviews Brian D. McLaren’s new book ‘Everything Must Change‘. Tim’s basic premise is that McLaren presents a view of Jesus in this book that simply isn’t the Jesus of the Bible. I must confess that this review deeply disturbs me – not because I disagree with it but because, having reading Tim’s other reviews for over a year now he’s normally on the money and so what disturbs me most is Brian McLaren and what he seems to be proposing. For the record I have not read the book and will endeavour to as soon as possible – for now I simply point you to a very reliable reviewer in Tim Challies.
Tim ends his review with a plea, and after reading the review I can understand why – listen to his plea:
“McLaren will bring thousands of sincere people with him in his quest to see how Jesus addresses the world’s most serious problems. I hope these people count the cost. I hope they know what they must reject in order to be a new kind of Christian; they must reject the very heart of the gospel. After reading this book it is my hope and prayer that this marks the time when the Emerging Church realizes that if it is to maintain anything even remotely resembling biblical orthodoxy, it must stop now and it must abandon Brian McLaren. They must say “enough is enough” and turn back.”