Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Must Everything Change? 17

posted by xscot mcknight

This will close our summary of Brian McLaren’s new book, Everything Must Change, and I will post a “review” of the book Friday. My next series will be on Paul Louis Metzger, Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church.
“There is one great step,” Brian contends in chp 32, “we can take to dismantle the suicide machine and the framing stories that legitimize it: to stop believing in it, and to believe, in its place, a different story, the story of the kingdom of God” (284).
“For Jesus’ followers, to believe in him meant — and means — not only that we have faith in Jesus, but also that we share the faith of Jesus: that our world is on a suicidal trajectory, and that our lives can make a difference” (286).
Brian (chp 33) believes we must expose the covert curriculum at work in society today. The good news is that we must opt out of the Democrat vs. Republican framing story.
“Another world is possible, available now for all who believe” (303).
So his appeal: “God calls us to reconcile with God, one another, and creation, to defect from the false stories that divide and destroy us, and to join God in the healing of the world through love and the pursuit of justice and the common good” (305).
It involves:
personal action
community action
public action
global action



Advertisement
Comments read comments(41)
post a comment
T

posted November 7, 2007 at 9:56 am


?There is one great step,? Brian contends in chp 32, ?we can take to dismantle the suicide machine and the framing stories that legitimize it: to stop believing in it, and to believe, in its place, a different story, the story of the kingdom of God?
I like this, and I think it’s a point worthy of being made. I agree wholeheartedly with what Michael Kruse has argued extensively–that, in sum, (mostly) free markets are far better than command markets. BUT, that system’s ‘justice’ and ‘mercy’ is equal to the sum of its many parts. As such, it is ultimately suicidal if the people within it live for themselves and not for God, their neighbors, and even their ‘enemies’–if they fail to enter the reigning of God and follow the Jesus way. Even in a free market, “if [we] do not repent, [we] will also perish.” This needs to be said much more. Too many Christians, in rightfully defending mostly free markets, have also bought into the economic “unlimited (long-term) pie” theory, which is likely wrong, even in the long-term, and works to excuse hoarding and selfishness in a never ending short-term.



report abuse
 

ChrisB

posted November 7, 2007 at 10:09 am


our world is on a suicidal trajectory, and that our lives can make a difference
That is essentially the ancient Christian message. But the question is why is it on that trajectory and what do we do about it? I think McLaren’s answer (such as it is) is a bit off-target.



report abuse
 

T

posted November 7, 2007 at 10:14 am


Also,
We have not, as Michael has also alluded to, done very well in the Church at teaching people clearly how to make their work itself part of what God is doing in the world, helping them to make “good use of the things of this world without becoming attached to them.” (Again, I think this is largely due to having a “heaven when you die” gospel rather than a “kingdom among us” one.) This twin challenge of truly good use without attachment needs to be met intelligently and thoroughly in the American Church. Our understanding of “good use” is shallow, while our denial of the attachment is deep.
We need to spend some time considering how to establish and maintain in ourselves and others a priority for the governing of God and its right dealings with others above even our food and clothing and money, even as we “make good use” of the things we have. Doing that, with any significant number of people, will have a very positive impact on the world, not least among the participants.



report abuse
 

Matthew

posted November 7, 2007 at 10:50 am


Sometimes the focus on justice, though maybe lost in years past, can sidetrack the true message of salvation.
http://www.matthewsblog.waynesborochurchofchrist.org



report abuse
 

Ben Wheaton

posted November 7, 2007 at 10:58 am


Our world is on a suicidal trajectory, as McLaren says, but it is also doomed to continue on that trajectory until the judgment day. I think that McLaren is fundamentally mistaken, even though he is, on the surface, correct about the need for Christians to act for the poor and oppressed. All social action will ultimately fail because our world is too corrupted by sin. Therefore, a proper perspective would be that social action is a way to mitigate evil, while recognizing that this is only a temporary fix. McLaren says that the problem with the world is its false framing story; fair enough, but he then goes on to say that the solution to this problem is to believe a new framing story of peace and love, and to work for reconciliation between all peoples. That is where the problem occurs, for the root cause of the trouble in our world is not that we have bad framing stories, it is that we are alienated from God by our sin against him. All the dialogue and social action in the world will not do an iota of good–will, indeed, be turned to greater wickedness than there was before–unless that fundamental alienation between God and Man is eliminated. And the only way that can occur is if men repent and believe in Christ Jesus. Thus, it can be said without blushing that the Southern Baptist Convention has, in the last 50 years, done more for social justice than, say, the Episcopal church in the same timespan because of its missions program.



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted November 7, 2007 at 11:10 am


Ben,
I have to wonder if you have read this book. You are advocating the framing story Brian has engaged — the apocalyptic framing story. And maybe you’d like to see him express “reconciliation with God” more forcefully, but there is in the post above precisely this point — that it begins with reconciliation with God through Christ (I quote from p. 305).
To be sure, this is not his emphasis in this book. Instead, his book is about taking the kingdom framing story to the issues that press against us.
His framing story of a revolution of hope is the central factor that you seem to deny in what appears to me to be your framing story of doom.



report abuse
 

T

posted November 7, 2007 at 11:45 am


Ben,
Related to Scot’s comment you stated: “the root cause of the trouble in our world is not that we have bad framing stories, it is that we are alienated from God by our sin against him.”
It may help you understand Brian better to realize that humans sin, even originally, out of trust in bad (untrue, death causing, God distrusting) framing stories, such as “you won’t die, do this and you’ll be like God yourself.” Believing these kinds of stories is the faith component of the very sin against God (and man) that you mention. Trusting them leads to sinful action. Repenting of trust in various “framing stories” and trusting Jesus’ ideas instead is repenting from from the kind of thinking that leads to sin.



report abuse
 

Mark Z.

posted November 7, 2007 at 12:46 pm


Matthew #4,
I’d say the focus on justice is the true message of salvation. Jesus makes it very clear that reconciliation with God depends on reconciliation with our neighbors. (For example, Matt. 5:23.) Elevating the “message of salvation” above justice means “OK, God, someday I’ll get around to showing mercy to the rest of your children, but right now I want you to forgive my sins.” Doesn’t work that way.



report abuse
 

Ben Wheaton

posted November 7, 2007 at 12:52 pm


Scot,
You are correct that I haven’t read McLaren’s book. I was engaging with the ideas that the book seems to advocate based on your posts and other web reviews (both friendly and hostile) that I’ve found on the web. I’ll try to find one in a library. Would “framing stories” be the equivalent of “worldview?” If so, then I have no problem with the framing story notion. However, my point was that I am uncomfortable with McLaren’s framing story because it leaves out the depth and ingrained nature of sin in the physical as well as spiritual world. You are right in saying that I have a framing story of doom versus McLaren’s framing story of “hope.” However, I would prefer to say that the framing story of “doom” is rather one of REALISTIC hope, something that I believe McLaren’s framing story is lacking. Barring the return of Christ in glory, the world will continue to be a suicide machine. McLaren seems to hold out hope that we can change this machine from its suicidal plunge. I disagree.



report abuse
 

Michael W. Kruse

posted November 7, 2007 at 1:28 pm


T #1, 3
Thanks for the affirmations. With regard to economic questions, I think market economies are very compatible with biblical teaching and they are the most just. However, justice alone is never sufficient. It must be married to values of ?injustice? like mercy, compassion and restoration. There has to be a vision that is larger than justice but incorporates justice.
What troubles me about much of the idealistic critique I hear these days is the apparent attempt to achieve the Kingdom of God by revamping social systems (Everything must change!). Because markets don?t achieve perfect outcomes we should ?fix? the system rather than seek a society with a relatively just economic system (which is the best we can attain) but nurtures ?injustices? like mercy, compassion and restoration. I think McLaren would agree with me here but I think his critique frequently confuses and conflates issues in ways that falsely frame systems as the problem (and therefore the solution is a system solution.)



report abuse
 

NolanRen

posted November 7, 2007 at 1:33 pm


“…is one of REALIsTIC hope…” that is a common argument by all “realists” but it does not make your view any more real. The point that McLaren is getting at, as I have seen from his works and similar authors, is that Genisis begins with a “good creation” and that sin enters in, Gen. 3, and we, as Christians today, must work towards a renewed creation. The action, all forms of it, must be a working out of the reconciliation of God to His creation, throughHis people (“Love God, love others”). It would be difficult to reconcile the world around you by not acting something out. In fact, the “framing story” or “worldview” that each of us understands will guide our actions. And by living by a right framing story, your actions will reconcile what God created, and lead to a hope that God will complete what Jesus’ actions started.



report abuse
 

Michael W. Kruse

posted November 7, 2007 at 1:45 pm


I don’t see a downward spiral of the world toward annihilation but neither do I see a gradual progression until one day we wake up and the Kingdom of God has arrived. I think the picture is of the Kingdom of God becoming evermore visible and radiant over time in its witness to the Kingdom that will one day be consummated. But that consummation will be a direct intervention in history and a significant transformation.
One of the things I found odd about this book was the lack of a clearly articulated view of what the Kingdom of God is. I was particularly intrigued by his description of Eu-topia on 296-297. It is just vague enough for there to be uncertainty, but I could easily read this passage to mean that there is no future intervention in history and that we will evolve into the Kingdom of God. If that is what he meant I wish he would have been explicit. If it is not what he meant, then I wish he would have been clearer.



report abuse
 

Sage H.

posted November 7, 2007 at 1:46 pm


#9 Ben
Did Christ come to take away the sins of the world or not? He has already come in glory.



report abuse
 

Ben Wheaton

posted November 7, 2007 at 2:01 pm


Sage H.,
D-Day has happened, the battle of Berlin is yet to come.



report abuse
 

Michael W. Kruse

posted November 7, 2007 at 2:06 pm


Nolan #11
“…as Christians today, must work towards a renewed creation.”
I think McLaren would agree with this and I think this is by far the dominant narrative within the Emergent Conversation. But I think it leads to a false biblical anthropology.
I realize that one strong Enlightenment/Modernist narrative considers nature as merely raw material for human exploits. But casting the biblical narrative as “Eden, Fall, Eden restored,” is not the biblical narrative. It is “Eden, Fall, New Jerusalem.” In other words, the story begins in a garden and ends in a city. The difference is between humanity as ?minimally invasive caretaker? versus humanity as ?creative co-regents and stewards? bringing all creation (human and non-human) to fruition. I get a strong sense of trying to move from one Modernist paradigm (autonomy through technological progress) for another Modernist paradigm (freedom as oneness with nature devoid as possible of human institutions.) The ?restored creation? narrative seems to me to come more from an Enlightenment Rousseauesque natural romanticism than from scripture.



report abuse
 

T

posted November 7, 2007 at 2:33 pm


Michael,
I think we share the strong conviction (for my part, as a limited economist and full-time lawyer) that if you’re talking about (human) government systems, you need to keep your hopes on them relatively low, realize every governments’ many significant inabilities, and also keep a comparative (not utopian) way of thinking when critiquing them. And keep a lookout for unintended consequences of even the best programs! They’re a killer! (But some government policies can be based on God’s ideas, even of mercy, and to good and effective ends. The bankruptcy code is (was) a good example. So was rebuilding our ‘enemies’ after WWII. There are similar policies–both real and imagined–that are worth thinking through.)
That being said, I do think too many Christians in the West fail to realize how radically everything does change in light of what God announced, and did, and is doing through Jesus. How radically he hopes and intends for us to VOLUNTARILY rethink and redirect our entire lives and resources in trust of his powerful and merciful actions through Jesus! For example, I do think that once you hear and understand the gospel of the kingdom, everything (including why and potentially what I do for a living) should change. What one fears, what counts as a ‘loss’, etc. radically changes. Learning that God is at work in the world for the good of the world (and that he’s wanting to work with and through me) changes everything about “career” questions, money questions, and the like. And there’s more, of course.
On the whole, I think Brian is trying to poke at some patterns of macro and micro behavior that have built up like plaque, which a more robust understanding and practice of gospel would have prevented and can now remedy. Further, I think he sees a connection between our inherent accumulative, self-protective, rebellious tendencies and the version of the gospel that has focused on trusting Jesus for the next life (as opposed to a gospel of heaven effectively leading earth now with healing results now and later). Our flesh has individually and collectively taken advantage of this “after-life” gospel to get some distance from Christ’s claims to things here and now, and he is pointing to the results of this kind of ‘faith’. To the extent we believe God has given up on making things more just and merciful here, we encourage others to do the same. The Church can do better by embracing and announcing Christ’s “way” which gives life now and later.



report abuse
 

Michael W. Kruse

posted November 7, 2007 at 2:45 pm


#16 T
Well said, T. I especially like your second paragraph.



report abuse
 

Brian

posted November 7, 2007 at 3:56 pm


Michael (#15),
While there is something to be said for the the “Eden, Fall, New Jerusalem” paradigm, I find its use rather limited in understanding broad movements in human history. The complication is that before we get to the New Jerusalem we first have the fall of the great city Babylon. Any thoughts on that?



report abuse
 

Brian

posted November 7, 2007 at 3:59 pm


Or do you see Babylon as primarily connected with Rome in preterist terms?



report abuse
 

NolanRen

posted November 7, 2007 at 5:26 pm


I agree with “Eden, Fall, New Jerusalem” but I understand “new Jerusalem” as something bigger. The renewing of Jerusalem is about more than the recreation of a city.
Jerusalem was the place where God lived, and still lives as many believe outside of Christianity. There was a direct connection to the place of Jerusalem and the presence of God. The “new Jerusalem” is the renewing of God’s direct living. No longer living within His followers but living at the center of creation, which was traditionally thought to be Jerusalem. The Kingdom of God, the place where God’s will is done, becomes the “new Jerusalem” upon His return. And that offers us hope in what we do today.
I agreee with you on the fact that we will not wake up one day and we will have reached the Kingdom. Faith and hope are part of the picture as well. God will do something to bring the new Jerusalem to life but we also take part. Rev. 3 says those who hold the commads of God will become pillars in the new Temple within the new Jerusalem. Both, God and man have a job in the creation of the “new Jerusalem.”



report abuse
 

Mark

posted November 7, 2007 at 6:40 pm


I recently ran across a quotation from a recent book by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, about the Beatitudes. He says it ??isn?t so much a list of rules to follow; it just tells us what sort of lives show that God is in charge;? lives that are characterized by dependence on God?s goodness, that show forgiveness, single-mindedness, longing for peace and for justice, and patience under attack. People who live like this already belong in the new world: the kingdom is theirs.”
This is just another way to say that the Beatitudes describe people who have come to see a new — life giving — framing story in place of the death-dealing story the world is always selling us.



report abuse
 

Brad Cooper

posted November 7, 2007 at 7:32 pm


Hey Ben,
I’m with ya.
I don’t think that it’s fair to call your eschatology one of doom, frankly. I find the idea–that Christ will come back one day and make everything new–is one of hope. “But hope that is seen is no hope at all.” Romans 8:24
To me it seems very difficult (even impossible) to read the various NT eschatological prophecies and see that things are going to get better and better until Christ returns. If you read the Olivet Discourse or Revelation or 2 Th 2 or 2 Tim 3, etc., it simply describes things as getting worse and worse NOT better and better. There are a few highlights such as the gospel will be preached to the whole world. But that’s the exception.
I remember several months back that Scot summed up the present situations as read out of Romans 8 like this:
“Creation groans, we groan, the Spirit groans.”
We must work to bring light in that darkness, but that will not be the overall picture.
Peace.



report abuse
 

Brian

posted November 7, 2007 at 9:15 pm


This discussion is showing that eschatology impacts how we think and live in the present age. But yet much of the emergent movement prefers to downplay systematics in general. While we may have reservations about that approach to the Bible, it has a way of rearing its head anyway.



report abuse
 

Korey Kwilinski

posted November 7, 2007 at 9:38 pm


Michael #15
“I think McLaren would agree with this and I think this is by far the dominant narrative within the Emergent Conversation. But I think it leads to a false biblical anthropology.”
I feel that renew might mean something different with McLaren. Not necessarily complete renewal of the original, but restoration of important things we have lost. Now I suspect you still might disagree, but I feel you paint the differences too starkly. It doesn’t seem to me so anti technology and urbanization. Now if you mean a complete abandonment of natural environments or lack of interest in preserving plant/animal habitat in any form, be it for hunting, fishing, or protection of endangered species, then perhaps I’m wrong. I don’t read anything in McLaren that doesn’t seem consistent with “humanity as ‘creative co-regents and stewards’ bringing all creation (human and non-human) to fruition”. It would seem he’d have to abandon even the most environmentally friendly farming because I can’t even see that as “minimally invasive”. I just don’t see the repudiation in his writing of human society, culture, technology, institutions, or infrastructure (maybe some of it and some of its manifestations, but in totality). He seems to use the internet quite a bit and it’s hard to imagine it existing if minimally invasive caretakers were in charge.



report abuse
 

Michael W. Kruse

posted November 7, 2007 at 10:30 pm


#18, 19 Brian
Brian, I don?t know that I can fully endorse any comprehensive framework of eschatological interpretation. I do think that the Revelation was written for the encouragement of first century Christians to persevere under difficult persecution. I?m doubtful that the bulk of the book was intended to symbolize far off events with little connection to their present suffering. Rather it symbolizes ultimate triumph over their present suffering and, at the end of the book, it is linked to Christ?s ultimate triumph. Passages like Revelation and Matthew 24 are coming from a particular apocalyptic genre that I think has to be handled very carefully.
I?m looking more to passages like Jesus? description of the wheat and the tares. Good and evil mature alongside each other but when the harvest comes the evil is sifted out and burned. There is Jesus? imagery of the yeast working its way into the dough, causing it to rise. There is the Romans 8 with that describes creation groaning in the pains of childbirth, which gives the image of something growing until coming to fruition.
What strikes me about the destruction of Babylon in Revelation is that it is not replaced with a garden but with a city. I do see the Kingdom of God growing over the centuries but it comes in ebbs and flows. It will never approach anything like the consummated New Creation but I believe it will exhibit qualitative change. The New Creation will be the transformation of this creation into a radically transformed new material existence. What events lead up to the new creation and whether or not there is some last gasp explosion of evil at the end, I haven?t a clue. But I do not subscribe to the idea of a world spiraling toward destruction. I think that has more to do with strong influence of Dispensational theology and its continued influence on these issues than it does biblical exegesis.



report abuse
 

Michael W. Kruse

posted November 7, 2007 at 10:43 pm


#20 Nolan
My primary distinction I was making is that biblical image is not of return to a garden. Within the Genesis story itself are indications of transformation through human labor. The command is given to “fill the earth,” as well as subdue and have dominion over it. All this is as stewards under God. Over the years this has been called the cultural mandate which presupposes the development of human culture to advance its work in filling the earth and being stewards over it. The city symbolizes this human creation and the New Jerusalem symbolizes God?s incorporation of human creativity into the New Creation.
I’m trying to carve out a place between what I believe are two false characterizations. One is the idea of nature as nothing more than raw material for our human agendas. The other is of humanity as caretakers resisting all transformation from pristine conditions. Neither represent biblical anthropologies in my book.



report abuse
 

Brad Cooper

posted November 7, 2007 at 11:42 pm


I’m not a dispensationalist….not by a long shot. And I do believe that there is room within the eschatological prophecies to allow for times when the Church’s influence in the world shines very brightly indeed. (But even that is really reading into and accentuating the positive aspects of the New Testament picture of the end.)
The overall picture, however, is not so pretty. You can write all of that off as apocalyptic….and Jesus and others weren’t really serious about all of that; but I think that is a serious mistake. Jesus put it this way: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matt 24:35). I wonder why he said that here….
On the other hand, if we let the Scripture speak, here is what we find:
Jesus calls false prophets, wars, famines, and earthquakes the beginning of birth pains. Birth pains come with greater frequency and intensity until the birth takes place (Matt 24: 8). Romans 8:22 uses the same imagery of birth pains and the context indicates that this groaning of creation will continue until the resurrection (“the redemption of our bodies”).
Jesus also says: “Because of the INCREASE OF WICKEDNESS, the love of MOST will grow cold….” (Matt 24:12).
2 Timothy 3 paints a similar picture: “terrible times….”
2 Thessalonians 2, 2 Peter 3 and Revelation have nothing positive to say about the end times either.
You may protest against someone’s eschatology that it is too dismal. You may say that we should expect this great peace to come over the world as the Church is obedient to Christ’s commands. That all sounds great. But show me in Scripture where you find this promise. If you are just pulling it out of the air, though, why should I or you believe it?
As for me, I will continue to pray for the Church to become more faithful to Christ’s commands–especially the repeated commands about loving God and people (even enemies and especially the poor); and I will seek to be faithful in my own life.
But my hope is in the promises of Christ, not in the ideology of any mere man. And the hope repeatedly held out to us throughout the New Testament is the hope in Jesus’ return, the resurrection, and a new heaven and a new earth. I can think of no Biblical promise that the earth as a whole will experience any kind of utopia before then. If anyone knows of such a promise, I honestly would appreciate the correction. Thanks.
Grace and peace in our Lord Jesus.



report abuse
 

preacherman

posted November 7, 2007 at 11:50 pm


I think we just need to understand that it is no long “I” but “Christ”



report abuse
 

Sage H.

posted November 8, 2007 at 12:16 am


#26 Michael
Wonderfully said, I agree.
#27 Brad
Very true. The way I read this, is to know that hard times are around every corner and for us to not look for utopia, but to keep our heads up and continue to follow him come what may. The Lord’s prayer is also said from this context.



report abuse
 

Brad Cooper

posted November 8, 2007 at 12:28 am


Sage #29,
Thanks for the affirmation. Peace.



report abuse
 

RonMck

posted November 8, 2007 at 2:46 pm


Judging from the comments on this post and the previous one, the dominant story is still the Western in which ?the good guys ride out to shoot up the bad guys and rescue the pretty girl?. What I am hearing is the Kingdom of God will not come until Big Jesus returns on his white horse with is his stetson and six shooter and beats up the bad guys.
In the interim the Kingdom of God is just a nice dream. A good western needs a character who uses the ?turn your other cheek method?, but he always proves to be the noble fool. The third person of the Trinity is just like Little Joe in Bonanza, a nice guy with good intentions blundering into situations, but has to wait for big brother Hoss to come and sort things out.
We seem to have enormous faith the ability Jesus to establish the kingdom by returning and waving a big stick, but no faith in ability the Holy Spirit to establish the Kingdom by changing human hearts. Quite Bizarre.
Sin and evil have really messed up this world. If Jesus dealt with sin and evil, then everything should change. Yet the message I read hear is that everything will not change much. Unless a gospel says that everything can change, it is a pretty pathetic gospel.
I am not interested in a big stick gospel or a six shooter gospel.



report abuse
 

Michael W. Kruse

posted November 8, 2007 at 4:19 pm


#27 Brad
Brad, it wasn?t my intention to indicate that you are a Dispensationalist. Few people are. My point was that Dispensationalism has had a strong influence on how we understand eschatology. While full-blown Dispensationalism is relatively rare its impact is still very powerful. The ?Left-Behind? series is good evidence of that.
Let me restate my understanding by contrasting against two alternatives. One alternative says this world is doomed. There is no point in truly engaging it. Our mission is to get people saved. We have to get folks in the lifeboats before the Titanic goes under. The other alternative is that Christ is ushering in his Kingdom. If people are transformed, and we continue to work on social structures, then we will wake up one day and find the New Creation has arrived. There will be a seamless evolution into the coming kingdom.
I reject both of these positions. I think Christ is bringing about change in the world. That change has to be viewed in terms of centuries and millennia, not one lifetime or any given century. It comes in ebbs and flows with twists and turns. But even if every person on the planet became a Christian and tried to follow Jesus, we would still only be a shadowy image of the New Creation. That happens only at the last day.
I have no visions of utopia evolving but I do see significant change toward the Kingdom being more fully realized as time goes by. This is the point I was trying to make on one of the earlier threads about economic systems. Comparing our present economic system against what life will be like in the New Creation (and finding it wanting) is insufficient grounds for rejecting the current system. Each alternative has to be weighed against each other in light of the New Creation to determine what brings us closest to exhibiting the Kingdom of God this side of New Creation but no system will ever match the New Creation this side of Christ?s consummation.
As to the apocalyptic genre of literature, I think it is beyond the scope of this conversation to analyze that here. I know that the language is highly symbolic and hyperbolic in order to have its desired affect. I?m cautioning against reading this literature in the form of news reports about future events. I?m saying the genre is much more complex than that.
I find that I resonate strongly with Emerging Church critiques of pessimistic eschatology and the narrow focus on ?saving souls.? At the same time I read McLaren?s book and I?m alarmed (see #12 above) that he is creating a dangerous idealism that believes we can usher in the Kingdom. One author wrote that the tragedy of the fall is that in seeking to become like God we became less than human. I fear pursuit of idealistic solutions in anticipation of ushering in the Kingdom can delude us into efforts to become more than we can be and actually result in us becoming much less than we otherwise could have been.



report abuse
 

RonMck

posted November 8, 2007 at 5:37 pm


Michael #32
Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is at hand. He did not say that the New Creation is at hand. The Kingdom of God must have a manifestation apart from the New Creation.



report abuse
 

Ben S.

posted November 8, 2007 at 6:15 pm


Michael #32,
regarding your sentence, “I am alarmed that he is creating a dangerous idealism that believes we can usher in the Kingdom.”
It has long been with in the Easter O. tradition, set out by St. Athanasius to believe in Theosis. The process where Christ became man, so that man may become God. Not simply like God, but to actually take on God characteristics. I find this greatly empowering. Further, when looking at the heirarchical chain of being of the midevial theologians (St. Thomas A.) we see that when we love well and serve well we become more like God, our being moves up closer to the likeness of God’s being, when we sin we drop down closer to animals.
All this to say, if Atonement is about theosis, and the Christian life is about becoming more God-ish than shouldn’t establishing the Kingdom be with in our responsibility and/or grasp?



report abuse
 

Michael W. Kruse

posted November 8, 2007 at 8:17 pm


Ron #33 and Ben #34
Well I didn?t intend to take this thread off into discussion about eschatology, so if we are straying, Scot, please bring us back.
I see the Kingdom as ?King-? and ?-dom.? There is a ruler and dominion. I see Dominion at least three ways:
* It is a community of people subject to the king.
* It is a territory.
* It is a way of living and relating.
I do not see the Kingdom of God as having reached its fullness until 1 Corinthians 15:20-28. When all opposing powers are subjected and death is no more (New Creation), then the Kingdom of God will be complete. The New Creation and the order of living within the New Creation is the fullest expression of how we will relate as the Kingdom of God. We are called to live propleptically (as though the future is in the present.) That is how we give witness to who God is and to what God intends for the world. That witness is what draws people into the Kingdom and transforms them. I refer to our proleptic living as new creation (small letters) living in anticipation of New Creation (cap letters) living at the end.
So Ron #32, the Kingdom of God, in my understanding, lives a new creation (proleptic) orientation. Indeed, that is how it evidences the Kingdom. So the New Creation in the form of the new creation is at hand. Does that make my ramblings any clearer?
Ben S. #34
?All this to say, if Atonement is about theosis, and the Christian life is about becoming more God-ish than shouldn?t establishing the Kingdom be with in our responsibility and/or grasp??
??becoming more God-ish?? That is what I think we should be witnessing and that will transform not only individuals but cultures. (I think Protestants probably use sanctification as a close parallel for theosis.) But I don?t think we reach a state of inward sinlessness until the New Creation is realized. Until that happens, the Kingdom of God has not fully come. So, will we become only marginally more sanctified prior to the New Creation or will we come to a state of near perfection? Whatever the case I?m saying we don?t seamlessly evolve into the New Creation.
I’m still learning and forming my understanding of this but I hope this clarifies a bit.



report abuse
 

RonMck

posted November 8, 2007 at 9:06 pm


Michael #35
I agree that the Kingdom of God cannot achieve its fulness until after 1 Corinthians 15:20-28. However, we must be careful not to dumb down the Kingdom at hand by pushing all the promies of the kingdom out to that time.
If most of the people on earth were to become Christian, culture would be transformed and vastly closer to the Kingdom of God than what we have now. If the cross was as good as we say it was, then everything would be changed. Even the creation would be changed as some degree of blessing returns.
We must also be careful about assuming that all scripture about the new creation only applies after 1 Corinthians 15:20-28. For example, Is 65 refers to a new creation at a time when babies are still being born and people are dying at a hundred, so it cannot be pushed out to a time after death is destroyed. Renewing of creation is also manifestation of the kingdom of God in this age.
I think that our problem is that we look at New Zealand and America, which are “sort of” Christian, and think that that is the best that God can do. Our mistake is to judge what we can believe the Holy Spirit can do by our experience. That is mistake. Our assessment of what he can achieve should be against what scriptures promises.



report abuse
 

Michael W. Kruse

posted November 8, 2007 at 10:05 pm


#36 Ron
I hear you Ron. I believe we are not what we could be or ought to be in the present, and yet we can?t be the New Creation in its fullness either. That places us into a tension that forces us to depend on God. I think idle complacency (or resignation) and utopian idealism are twin attempts to escape that tension; to escape active dependence upon God for him to work things out in his sovereignty.
I feel like no matter how I say this (and this is not particularly aimed at you) it gets filtered according to the hearer?s apprehension of one pole of the polarity. No matter how I couch this it is going to be too little or too much.



report abuse
 

RonMck

posted November 8, 2007 at 10:19 pm


Michael #37
I agree with you.
Utopian idealism based on political power is particularly dangerous.



report abuse
 

Brad Cooper

posted November 9, 2007 at 1:01 am


Michael #32,
Thanks for taking the time to engage me in this.
Frankly I think that you and I agree very closely on the practical aspects of this whole issue. The only exception may be that I tend to see an ebb and flow (and generally a more localized) pattern to the church’s ability to bring the kingdom to earth throughout the last 2000 years and you seem to see an onward progression (or perhaps an ebb and flow that results in an onward progression).
We certainly both agree that McLaren seems to be encouraging some kind of utopian eschatology where we suddenly wake up one morning and there is nothing but peace around the planet and every single person’s needs are being met. And we both agree that this is not Scriptural or realistic.
Most importantly, I think that we both agree that we must do everything in our power to meet all the problems of this world with the love and power of Jesus Christ. Ignoring people in need is obviously not an acceptable application of what Jesus said is the 2nd greatest commandment. Acts and Paul’s letters make it very clear that “saving souls” is of the utmost importance, but many passages make it clear that taking care of the needy is right up there with it. I especially think of Galatians 2:10. The Jerusalem apostles have one request of Paul as he goes about saving souls: continue to remember the poor. Or James’ definition of religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless: look after orphans and widows and keep pure (1:27). I could go on.
As to my actual eschatology, I enjoyed the “Left Behind” series, but I definitely do not agree with its eschatology. But since I am a pantribulationist (it will all pan out in the end), I could be wrong. I really don’t put much stock in anyone’s scenario for how they think the end time prophecies line up. I do in fact believe that the Biblical prophecies about the Lord’s second coming are predictive (they indicate pretty clearly that they are), but I think that we will really only understand them as they are actually unfolding (much like the messianic prophecies which were never fully understood by the disciples until after the resurrection–when Jesus himself explained them). At any rate, I do not get my understanding of these prophecies from dispensationalism, I simply read them and let them speak for themselves.
Revelation is, of course, of the apocalyptic genre. So I understand some of the complications here and frankly put little stock in my ability to understand this book. I think I understand it a little better every time that I read it; but of all the Biblical books, this one still holds the most mystery for me. For the most part, I tend to interpret Revelation based on other parts of Scripture.
The Olivet Discourse (Mt 24, etc.), Romans 8, 2 Thess. 2, 2 Tim. 3, and 2 Peter 3 (as I noted above) all seem to be pretty straight forward to me. And they all paint a very pessimistic picture of the world of the last days. There may be people that don’t like that tone (I’m not too fond of it myself), but I can see no justification for blaming the tone of those passages on anything but the Holy Spirit’s leading. Conversely, I can find no passage of Scripture that clearly contradicts this tone. If you can show me one I missed, please do.
Thanks once again, brother. Keep up the good work. And may the Lord bless you with everything that you need to accomplish his will in your life. Peace.



report abuse
 

Korey Kwilinski

posted November 9, 2007 at 2:37 pm


Brad #39
“We certainly both agree that McLaren seems to be encouraging some kind of utopian eschatology where we suddenly wake up one morning and there is nothing but peace around the planet and every single person?s needs are being met. And we both agree that this is not Scriptural or realistic.”
I think you should read the book. It’s hard for me to understand how one could think McLaren is advancing such a perspective, although I’m not saying you wont after having read it. I don’t deny that he may argue that the kingdom can continue to be brought into greater fruition without an apocalypse or direct intervention in history of Christ. But I don’t think he undeniably states that it is so.
Even if he did advance such a notion, which I know you have trouble with biblically, it would seem realistically not so pie in the sky. His hopeful optimism seems sufficiently realistic enough and reminds me of this quote from Reinhold Niehbur:
“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.”
On both eschatological grounds and on the basis of realism, I think all options are open regarding the status of the world when Christ returns and I really don’t think anything McLaren wrote indicates otherwise. And I suggest that the various perspectives derived from Scripture might be God’s way of helping us navigate naive idealism (so that we don’t embark on projects that do more harm than good or impatiently resist or deny progress in certain sectors when there are perhaps no sound alternatives) and seemingly hopeless fatalism (I know some contend its ultimately optimistic, but I wonder if someone like Martin Luther King Jr. had been saddled with such a view, would he have ever written the I Have a Dream speech or died for his vision?).



report abuse
 

Brad Cooper

posted November 9, 2007 at 9:42 pm


Korey #40,
You’re right. I do need to read the book and plan to do so.
My take on McLaren’s utopianism is my paraphrase of something Michael Kruse wrote (and Michael has read the book).
At any rate, to me the Biblical passages about the state of the world when Christ returns seem to be much darker than the picture McLaren seems to be hoping for.
But frankly, it doesn’t really matter that much to me from a practical standpoint. We need to make every effort to accomplish Christ’s will on earth–no matter what the limits of that might actually be. Our responsibility is faithfulness, not success.
BTW, I like the thought-provoking quote from R. Neihbur. Thanks.
Grace and peace in our Lord.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the hand of God's bounty (v. 7a).Step two: David became too

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: Deity or Deism noted: ...this reminds me of why I get a

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's new book is called Almost Christian: What the Faith of Ou

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or two with their hands ... but that's what makes this diet

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.