Here is a window into the heart of Brian McLaren’s deep shift project and in this case the heart is how to express the gospel. He forces the content of the gospel onto the front burner by reframing and “targumizing” Mary’s Magnificat into the conventional gospel. In other words, the original Magnificat is the original gospel and as now reframed one sees this conventional gospel. This is from p. 107 of my copy of Everything Must Change.
I’ll tell you my first response: there is enough truth in this that it deserves being said but I’d be careful in using this. I winced a few times. I could go line-by-line saying what I like and don’t like, but I leave that to you. I have numbered them for convenience of reference for our discussion. One question worth asking here is if you think sort of approach “makes the point clear.”
1. My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my personal Savior, for he has been mindful of the correct saving faith of his servant.
2. My spirit will go to heaven when my body dies for the Mighty One has provided forgiveness, assurance, and eternal security for me — holy is his name.
3. His mercy extends to those who have correct saving faith and orthodox articulations of belief, from generation to generation.
4. He will overcome the damning effects of original sin with his mighty arm; he will damn to hell those who believe they can be saved through their own efforts or through any religion other than the new one He is about to form.
5. He will condemn followers of other religions to hell but bring to heaven those with correct belief, He has filled correct believers with spiritual blessings but will send those who are not elect to hell forever.
6. He has helped those with correct doctrinal understanding, remembering to be merciful to those who believe in the correct theories of atonement, just as our preferred theologians through history have articulated.
This section on Mary is preceded by a survey, in chp 12, of empire elements in the Gospels — stuff like the use of “Messiah” or “Lord” or the presence of tax collectors and sinners and stewards in parables.
The next chp begins with Mary and then sketches how Zechariah’s message and John the Baptist’s message and Jesus’ opening sermon drive home the same themes of empire reversal.
The next chp deals with Peter’s confession — made near an empire city named after an empire builder — and how Jesus spoke of the cross and then it looks at Jesus’ presence before Pilate where Jesus makes an astounding comment hours before his death and where Brian hangs his own cap for what kingdom means:
“My kingdom is very much in this world, but it doesn’t work the way earthly kingdoms or empires do” (118). Jesus was then led to the cross. It appears empire wins. “Or so it appeared.” Nice touch Brian.