Beyond Business-as-Usual Christianity

Brian McLaren talks about hell, the emerging church, and seeker Christians who are fed up with traditional Christianity.

Brian D. McLaren's laid-back style might fool you into thinking he's a hip college professor. In reality, he's a pastor and a leader in the emerging church movement. His book 'A Generous Orthodoxy' and his 'A New Kind of Christian' trilogy have challenged conservative evangelical views of Jesus, the Bible, and non-Christians. He spoke to Beliefnet about 'The Last Word and the Word After That,' which explores the concept of hell and completes his trilogy.

Congratulations on making TIME magazine's '25 Most Influential Evangelicals' list. How did you feel about being included?

It's complicated because my sense is that the article was really trying to equate the word 'evangelical' with 'conservative Republican.' Although I think there are many wonderful things about conservative Republicans, I don't fit in that category. So I felt I probably was the oddest duck in the article (laughs). On the other hand, I was glad if I could be an example of someone from an evangelical background who is not happy with the tone of the religious right. So if I provided an alternative voice, I'm glad that I could be included.

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You were involved in controversy when the Kentucky Baptist Convention rescinded your invitation to speak because of a controversial paragraph in your book 'A Generous Orthodoxy.' You said, in part, that making disciples doesn't necessarily "equal making adherents to the Christian religion." Did you think the dis-invitation was justified?

When I go to speak somewhere, I'm a guest so I'm not offended if someone would invite me and then decide they would rather not have me. And [the Kentucky Baptist Convention] were very kind and polite in the way they did it.



When you wrote that paragraph, did you feel it would make waves or did it seem natural to write?

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