Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Brian McLaren on Pluralism

posted by Scot McKnight

In this interview with Spencer Burke, Brian McLaren maps his view of pluralism and how this view can chart a new kind of Christianity.

 



Advertisement
Comments read comments(81)
post a comment
Samir Selmanovic

posted May 31, 2010 at 12:07 pm


Thank you Scot for posting this.
I think that the issue of pluralism should be included in the Bible Study for any adult Christian being baptized today. At best, it will be a way to show the beauty and justice of Christ. To the very least, it will allow us to discuss different paradigms of relating to people of other faiths and make us more thoughtful.
Samir Selmanovic



report abuse
 

P. Tallon

posted May 31, 2010 at 12:25 pm


For McLaren, sounds like pluralism just means not being a jerk. MERE CHRISTIANITY bk2 ch1 still seems more genial + substantial.



report abuse
 

Scott

posted May 31, 2010 at 12:27 pm


I think, for the most part, we have always truncated “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” into a singular, “Truth Proposition” that then leads us toward that “Us vs Them” zero-sum equation. If Jesus is not only the “truth” but also the “way” then I have to go about dealing with others in “the way” of Jesus, not just arguing propositionally that He is the only valid truth. Arguing that He is the truth in a way other than the one he himself demonstrated doesn’t lead to Life. Additionally, there are many people who may be a bit off, propositionally speaking, who still demonstrate “the way” of Jesus even better than me. Thich Naht Hahn, Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama come to mind. How am I to argue my “Truth” with someone who actually demonstrates “the way” of Christ better than I do? We need to gain the humility to see that God is at work among all people– humility to recognize that and call it out as good. That recognizes the pluralistic nature of humanity without falling into the trap of relativism.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted May 31, 2010 at 12:42 pm


The problem (aside from the fact that the tone of the chapter decidedly does not match the tone of this interview) is that the fight is often brought to us. We are asked to define what we believe about Christ.
We believe, as John 14:6, and pretty much the rest of John 14, states. Jesus is the way to God, and there is no other way. How could this NOT have implications for people of other faiths?
How could a Jew or a Muslim, having heard my response, not infer a judgment on his own faith. The implication of that passage is that they do NOT believe in God in any sort of life giving way. John 14 is fightin’ words, as the kids would say.
So we can either pretend that our non-Christian friends are obtuse, or we can address the implications of our position. To me, the latter seems more intellectually honest, and more respectful of my friend.



report abuse
 

Jamie

posted May 31, 2010 at 1:15 pm


Kevin,
I agree with you. It seems as if Brian wants to hug the non-Christian without offending them just before they go to hell.



report abuse
 

tripp fuller

posted May 31, 2010 at 2:32 pm


Hey Scot I would be interested in your response to his exegesis of John 14:6.



report abuse
 

Brad

posted May 31, 2010 at 3:26 pm


“Christ did not establish any doctrine; he acted. He did not teach that there was redemption, he redeemed. Christ’s relationship to God, nature, and the human situation was conditioned by his activity. Everything else is to be regarded only as introduction. . .No one can lecture himself into eternity.” – Soren Kierkegaard
Do world religions contain truth? Only a fool would say no. The problem is that Jesus came to do away with religion as it is is known and practiced in our world. Ironically, the “institutionalization” of the church by all of us has brought back the very Temple Worship (ritual) Jesus came to fulfill and move beyond (relationship). I don’t think McLaren’s question on Pluralism gets to core of what were really talking about here (I confess however that I’ve not read the book). In Genesis at the creation the world and every thing in it was full of the “shalom.” It was whole. It was “good,” and man in God’s eyes was “very good.” Timothy Keller addresses this in The Reason for God. In 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 Paul elaborates on the absolute interconnection of every part of the church, calling it a body – not a machine or institution, etc.
Jesus said “Love your enemies.” which means we are to have no enemies because we are interconnected. If I am to be in relationship with other parts of the body of Christ, and if God’s desire for every person on the earth is to be part of that body , then I am connected, in relationship with every person on the earth. If I am a friend to someone, and they are a friend to someone I do not know, I am that person’s friend as well because I am connected to them through my friend, and I would even go so far as to say, I impact that person’s life through the impact I have on my friend, just as that person impacts my life through the impact that person has on my friend. The chances are that I am a friend to someone who knows someone who knows someone who is my enemy. Thus, I am connected to my enemy (See the story of the Good Samaritan). The point is that God’s original design, and His design for the new creation is in my estimation a design of being ONE, as Jesus prayed in John, of being whole, complete, interconnected. The very Triune God we worship is a God of plurals (Tri) united as one (une), the essence of interconnectedness, relationship.
Every Sunday a group of us go to a Park where we bag groceries, deliver them door to door in a neighborhood where a lot of people don’t have much money but do have a lot of difficulties, then we invite these folks to a community meal to hang out, play guitar and sing, play games, and visit. Sometimes we pray for each other. Many people come to this who are not, as far as I know, followers of Jesus. I don’t worry about this. I simply show up and DO what I hear the Spirit telling me to do. I figure that if God wants me to talk about the way, truth, and life, then he’ll make it plain to me (mind you, I don’t shrink from my faith in Christ if asked). I TRUST that in showing up and loving people, God will act. I am a high school teacher, and I sponsor the Revolution Group whose motto is “loving others one person at a time forever.” We simply do loving acts for others in big and small ways. Many of these students are not disciples, but I TRUST that God will move in their lives as they hang out with him (that is His Spirit, and the Body of Christ).
It’s what I think Kierkegaard was getting at. You know the old thing that most Christians get it when Jesus says, “Come.” It’s that second part that gets left out: “Follow me.” I’ve not read McLaren’s book, but I would venture to guess this is what he’s talking about when it comes to a Helenistic (Greek/Roman) view of Christianity
Here’s the thing: I think we in the West, particlarly the U.S. want to cut to the chase. We’re always in a hurry. The quickest way, we think, to convince someone about Jesus is through words. But we forget that lasting change takes place when what we DO shows Jesus. Of course what we do takes longer to sink into the hearts of others. It’s the difference between authority and influence. Process is so integral to real, radical (at the root) life change. Over the three years of his ministry I am convinced that Jesus lived and showed the disciples through his life who he was and what life was all about. This is why they all were willing to die in my estimation. In the park we go to – we’ve been going now for about 9 months, and what we noticed is that after about three months, the community started asking, “How long will you guys be here for?” (Most “church programs” last a couple of weeks). Within six months the community began trusting us. Now many in the community are taking over the work. We are becoming less as they become more
Everyone has something to bring to the body. Until Christianity is no longer considered a religion by those who profess to be Jesus’ disciples, and until our actions match our words in this regard, we will continue to be relegated to just another world view/religion. Jesus was able to function in the Temple, the synagogue, the street, the Roman Palace, etc. A Muslim who puts his faith in Christ can now serve the Muslim community – I couldn’t do that. He knows what to say and what not to say – customs, culture, etc. Yet, he and I are connected, related, ONE in Jesus Christ. We play our significant parts.
Pluralism isn’t the issue. Loving others is loving God. This is really what it is to be a follower of Jesus.
Leading with the mouth hasn’t worked real well has it? Maybe we need to lead with our hands and feet, with our lives.
Following Jesus is the issue. And i don’t think this is a New Kind of Christianity. I think its a Forgotten Christianity.



report abuse
 

Dave Moore

posted May 31, 2010 at 4:02 pm


McLaren’s reference for correcting things is a Christianity that most of us don’t subscribe to: a crusading type of zeal that is incapable of treating those outside the household of God with respect and decency. It’s a nice debate tactic, but hardly persuasive.
As to Jn. 14:9, I wish McLaren took his own counsel. Yes, we should treat others like Jesus did, but Jesus was not adverse to “tough love” when it comes to those outside the household of God. John 8 makes that eminently clear.
Until McLaren gets over the excesses of Christian fundamentalism, I’m afraid his keen insight will be of little use to the body of Christ.



report abuse
 

Chad

posted May 31, 2010 at 4:15 pm


The question (that seems avoided, IMO) is about how to love our neighbors of other faiths in a way that invites them into the family of God through Christ. For those of us who believe the gospel is inherently evangelical, to love is to share with the hopes of converting. To some, that might sound like Mclaren’s “dualism,” but I don’t equate evangelizing with conflict and violence.



report abuse
 

Virtual Methodist

posted May 31, 2010 at 4:32 pm


Dave… Most of John 8 was addressed to those “within the household of faith” and his comments to them were a lot tougher than to the woman caught in adultery…



report abuse
 

RJS

posted May 31, 2010 at 4:51 pm


Interesting.
First – the three options of Totalitarianism, Dualism, and Pluralism give an impression that these define the space of all response. This is misleading as the Christian response exemplified in the NT – from Acts through the epistles is none of the above.
Second – the distinction of forms of Pluralism gives no indication whatsoever that there is anything within Christianity – other than it defines “our identity” – that is good for the world. No reason for evangelism (again see Acts through the epistles).
Third – the emphasis totally sidesteps the growth of the early church and the fact that the consequence of the resurrection was a desire to spread the gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ. The spread of the gospel related in the book of Acts is the story of a work of God.
I’ve been reading the book as part of a discussion group recently – and it is interesting because one of the first questions that came up as we discussed “the narrative question”: was “why does McLaren ignore Paul?”
McLaren seems to suggest, in fact, that we go wrong as soon as we look at Jesus “backwards” through the experience of the early church – even through the writing of Peter and Paul. Since the gospels all come out of the early church perhaps we get it right only if we see the Jesus of the gospels behind the distortions of the early church … “the real Jesus” who culminates the story of the OT.
We’ve only made it through ch. 6 thus far … so I cannot comment on any of the rest of the book, including the pluralism question yet.



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted May 31, 2010 at 5:01 pm


One of the issues for me is the meaning of the word “pluralism.” This term, in and of itself, brings up two corollaries: truth and salvation. Pluralism means essentially that there are different ways to tell the Truth, or more often in a pomo context, no one Truth but only pluralistic pursuits of truth. So, pluralism de-privileges one system of truth.
Second, in a Christian context, pluralism touches on salvation: pluralism implies, if it doesn’t overtly affirm, various approaches to salvation.
In other words, to bring up pluralism is enter into a soteriological discussion by definition.
Maybe others don’t see this, but it seems to me that Brian comes close to defining pluralism as the doctrine of tolerance. Tolerance, for me, is a relational affirmation of how to get along with those with whom we differ in a public square or public context. It is a way of living in pluralism, but it is not the same thing.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted May 31, 2010 at 5:08 pm


@Brad
I’m curious about some of your assumptions.
“The problem is that Jesus came to do away with religion as it is is known and practiced in our world.”
He said he came to fulfill the law. He said nothing about doing away with religion and, in fact, instituted some religious practices that we follow today.
Your point about following Jesus vs. simply talking about him is well taken. That said, Jesus did quite a bit of preaching and speaking himself. It’s both/and, not either/or.
“I’ve not read McLaren’s book, but I would venture to guess this is what he’s talking about when it comes to a Helenistic (Greek/Roman) view of Christianity.”
Not really. He uses this narrative to urge his readers to eschew the traditional reading of the bible. Especially, he rejects the notion of original sin, as well as damnation. In short, he sees the traditional view of sin, what he calls the “soul sort” narrative, as a heresy that invariably leads to violence and destruction
He sees a large role for elected officials in bringing about the kingdom, especially as it relates to economic redistribution and environmental policy. He envisions all religions working together through political institutions (he founded the Matthew 25 network to support the candidacy of Barack Obama) to help God conquer sin.
That’s why this little video is somewhat galling. His book is NOT just saying that we should be kind and understanding of those who believe differently about God.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted May 31, 2010 at 5:25 pm


Scot,
He comes close to pluralism as a doctrine of tolerance – a way of following the command to love one’s neighbor in a world where hate carries the day far too often. This is certainly an approach I think we should take – and one for which we can make a strong case from the NT.
But why use the word pluralism in this case – especially given the baggage attached? The way the question and discussion is framed it vilifies two approaches and casts the only viable approach as one which is inextricably intertwined with a religious relativism.
I shouldn’t comment in too much detail though before reading the relevant chapters of the book.



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted May 31, 2010 at 5:28 pm


RJS, I agree with what you see but I think the categories he uses emerge from a weak definition of pluralism — which remains in religious discourse a soteriological category too.



report abuse
 

John M.

posted May 31, 2010 at 5:44 pm


It’s intersting that the Dalai Lama credits a conversation he had with Thomas Merton back in the late 1960’s with demonstrating to him how he could appreciate the good and truth in Christianity (and other religions) while reamining loyal and committed to Buddhism.



report abuse
 

Brad

posted May 31, 2010 at 6:56 pm


kevin (and scot)
I can’t speak to McLaren’s book, as I noted I’ve not read it. So maybe I shouldn’t even be writing on this blog. But I can address you’re curiosity to what I wrote.
i understand what you’re saying about Jesus fulfilling the law and not doing away with religion. In the sense that I think you state it, I would agree. I mean for a Jew to do away with his all his jewish practices after putting faith in Jesus is not something I think Jesus would espouse, especially since he was a jew. For a Hindu to do away with ALL his Hinduisms, for a Muslim to stop praying 5 times a day for example, for a Buddhist to do away with all meditation per se, is not something I think Jesus would espouse. I think Jesus would say, whatever you do, do it for/to the Lord. And a Hindu who puts his trust in Christ can serve Hindus in a way I couldn’t.
There’s this statement where Paul writes, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” In a group we were talking about how the freedom of Christ makes us absolutely free to do anything, but of course, sometimes if we want to do something it may be detrimental to us or others, etc. which means it is not beneficial. Here is a fundamental: self-orientation or other-orientation. This may be closer to what I mean about “religion.” Ritual so that the “goats” can check off the list their righteous acts and attain heaven/Nirvana/god status/etc. by their own doing versus true worship which is centered on God, or centered on others (loving/serving others is loving/serving God).
I’ll grant that Jesus “instituted” things like the Lord Supper/Communion – which is mostly practiced as a ritual and not a meal as it originally was done by Jesus himself and the early church. Or like the Lord’s Prayer which was a way for Jesus to say, in my opinion, pray about these things simply, or maybe just, pray simply, and this prayer has become in some institutional settings a ritual which is done on a regular basis. It’s not the regularity, it’s not the recitation again and again that is “religion.” It goes back to that old sheep and goats thing.
In Matthew when the sheep say, “When did we feed, clothe, visit you [Jesus]?” They have no idea they did those things to Christ because they actually saw and heard the human in front of them and had great love/compassion for him. By the same token, the goats ask the same question, but their intention is to do what Jesus did because it is what Jesus would do, not because they actually saw and heard the starving person in front of them. The sheep were other-oriented. They danced around those humans in need. The goats were self-oriented, doing the right thing because it was the right thing and they could add to their accomplishments by having those humans in need dance around them. It’s an incredibly subtle distinction in practice, though on paper it seems simple enough, kind of like a sermon that is spot on but fails to resonate in the life of the preacher or those who “hear and see” the sermon. This was what I meant by leading with one’s life and not words.
I grant that using words are not bad or wrong, and that it is not an either/or proposition as you suggest. The problem arises when there is no balance between them, which has maybe always been the case but in our Western churches, particularly American churches, words seem to trump actions. I would also submit that what made Jesus’ words and sermons so powerful were his acts (healing, feeding, etc.) This gave him credibility with all but, ironically, the religious. I think Jesus understood this when he told those in the temple courts, “For which acts do you want to stone me?” They reply, “We don’t want to stone you for your acts but for what you say.” Jesus replies, “Then don’t listen to what I say. Look at what I do.” He knew that if someone looked at what he did, that someone would be moved to at least try to know him more fully. And this is where I think what we do is the primary introduction to the gospel. Our actions are good news. This path is in my estimation a much more powerful, albeit often times slower-moving, and grueling witness.
Lastly, I’ve not read McLaren’s book, but I would say that Paul makes it clear that the world is broken, and Man was responsible for breaking it when he shifted from being oriented toward (or dancing around) God and others and his relationship with God and others to being self-oriented (having God and anyone dance or orbit around him). I think God wants no one to perish or be “damned” (CHOOSE to be absent from God’s presence), but it seems clear in Scripture that some may choose that. Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about this because we don’t have to judge (which I do anyway which is a sin). All we have to do is let God love others through us by His Holy Spirit.
Another lastly, Paul makes it clear that God allows elected officials to be placed in office, but Jesus didn’t really seem to spend much time dealing with governmental policies because, let’s face it, if you were looking for power and prestige or some new world governmental position, Christianity is not what I would suggest you choose to live. Mostly because you end up dying for it historically. I don’t have a problem with “religions” working together on policies, etc because following Jesus is not a religion in that sense. It transcends philosophies, religions, politics. It is a way of life, and that way is love, and that usually ends up in suffering and death but with great joy.
By the way (Scot), this is why I think “pluralism” is not an appropriate term. Pluralism is fundamentally political/philosophical term. Applying it to a Jesus-follower would definitely Romanize faith in Christ which, if you follow the trajectory, I think would end up doing away with faith (some argue that this is already the case). I don’t (contrary to George Bush’s view) see Jesus as a philosopher or Christianity as a philosophy. It is fundamentally a WAY of life (not really a RATIONAL exploration of knowledge, being or truth). To love others and to love God at all costs and in the light of grace. It’s funny, because if Jesus wasn’t actually resurrected then I think any philosophical term might be applied to any of his teachings, but it is his actual life, death, and life again, WHAT HE DID, that makes all of us talk about him and these IDEAS. If that’s it, as Kierkegaard states, then Christianity is already dead and buried. Yes, we need both words and acts, but it’s the acts (of God) that give any creedence at all to the words. Otherwise it’s just philosophical niceties.



report abuse
 

nathan

posted May 31, 2010 at 8:03 pm


even though I tend not to be a fan of D.A. Carson, he actually outlines the ways people can deploy the word “pluralism” in his opening sections of The Gagging of God.
Pluralism is not solely a political/philosophical/soteriological term.
It also simply describes reality as we find it–a world full of differing religious and non-religious experiences, systems of thought, etc.
Any call to a reasoned engagement with those systems is beneficial and good, imo.
As Christians it’s important that we learn to walk a path that does not devolve into (1) “all paths lead to God” –a position even uniformly rejected at my so-called “liberal” divinity school–or (2) the idea that pluralism is some dirty word and all that Christians need to do is demolish the categories and descriptions of other religious systems without regard to the clear fact that there is oftentimes no correspondence to the assumptions and categories of Christianity in those very systems being critiqued.
Sadly, too many evangelicals still operate with this idea that all the “liberals” ultimately just want a hearts and rainbows theology of “lets all just get along and not engage our differences”, when the reality is that some incredibly fruitful dialogue is happening in the very halls of the institutions we saw fit to simply abandon when theological crisis/conflict began.
Brian is a product of that legacy…and so are some reactions here…



report abuse
 

John W Frye

posted May 31, 2010 at 8:22 pm


Who can argue with the exhortation that committed Jesus-followers should learn to speak well of and to people of other faiths, and perhaps learn from other faiths as well? But is this pluralism?
With Scot, I was expecting a vigorous discussion at the soteriological level and was offered good sociology instead.
I think Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that her soteriology was all wrong and that salvation is indeed of the Jews. Not too much wiggle room there for her.



report abuse
 

Ted M. Gossard

posted May 31, 2010 at 9:56 pm


I’m a terrible commenter on this blog, because I’m so unused to having to do everything all over again as in name, email, etc., so I lost what was for me a long comment.
I agree with John Frye here. McLaren wants to reject traditional lines orthodox Christianity has drawn, and in line with RJS’s thoughts, then Acts is irrelevant in terms of its narrative being carried on to this day.



report abuse
 

Tyler

posted June 1, 2010 at 4:05 am


What is Mr. McLaren trying to say here exactly? That we should be nice to people and treat them with the love and grace of Christ? Who in the real world would disagree with that? Yes, love your enemies. Yes, the Dalai Lama might actually be nicer than the guy that sits behind me at church, etc., etc. The irony in these kinds of discussions is overwhelming. So many of us are willing to hoist up total strangers (whose true legacies have been airbrushed by time and naivete) as heroes in order to scold our own brothers and sisters into useless forms of guilt and shame. Why? Is it so that we are excused from actually loving “one another” i.e. those in the church? I don’t know a single soul who is out there bashing people of other faiths (literally or rhetorically) in order to secure the fort. All I see are people like Mr. McLaren and his disciples creating ugly straw men in order to hide the fact that seems to reject the plain teaching of Scripture regarding the fate of the unevangelized. How is this the way of Christ, the one who engaged not with straw men, but with real people?



report abuse
 

Nathan

posted June 1, 2010 at 10:07 am


It seems much of the disappointment here rises from the expectation/assumption that the conversation should only proceed with the understanding that “pluralism = philosophical pluralism”.
It seems to me that McLaren has parked at the challenge of speaking about faith in an environment of “empirical pluralism”.



report abuse
 

Nathan

posted June 1, 2010 at 10:10 am


@ John Frye:
RE: Samaritans
And yet the Samaritans of that passage still went on worshipping “incorrectly” (i.e. wrong theology) and the scriptures declare that they received the Kingdom.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted June 1, 2010 at 10:11 am


@Tyler
Reading your comment, I thought “these would have been good questions for an interviewer to ask, instead of powder puff softballs.”
Then I went to Spencer Burke’s website, where I found this description of his little show:
“in this weekly videocast Spencer Burke interviews today?s most prominent voices affecting the church in transition, from Shane Clayborne to Phyllis Tickle. Watching these provocative interviews, you can see how learning is expanded through relationship, while tough issues are tackled in an open and authentic manner.”
Yeah, real provocative there, Spencer.



report abuse
 

Diane

posted June 1, 2010 at 10:32 am


I wonder if Jesus Creeders constitute an audience disconnect for McLaren. In other words, I don’t think we’re his audience. I believe there is a large audience for his message. It’s the same as Tillich–yes, you grow beyond him, but people like McLaren and Tillich are important first steps for many people in their faith journeys. Is there a reason not to let people have these first rungs in the ladder? Are they somehow wrong?
On another note, it was hard work to watch the video as every 12 syllables everything stopped so more could load. (I have a fairly state-of-the-art laptop, bought last spring). Also, watching a person tends to interfere with the message for me. I would have much rather read this … just saying. :)



report abuse
 

Tim

posted June 1, 2010 at 11:12 am


@Diane (25)
What is the name of the McLaren/Tillich rung of the ladder? Or
In what way are Jesus Creeders more advanced?



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted June 1, 2010 at 11:28 am


@Diane
McLaren’s audience largely consists of those who have become disaffected within their own churches. He asks the questions the churches don’t seem to be asking, and so his readers assume he’s the only one who has answers. Which brings me to…
@Tim
It seems to me that most of the commenters here have already wrestled with, and often solved, many of the basic questions McLaren’s readers seem to find so vexing.



report abuse
 

Scott

posted June 1, 2010 at 11:33 am


Diane and Tim (25, 26),
My rung’s even higher than all the ones mentioned, but until people arrive, they aren’t able to see it. :)



report abuse
 

Scott

posted June 1, 2010 at 11:40 am


Kevin (27)
humility please… we’re all “vexed” by something… I’m reminded of Jesus’ words to the Pharisees:
John 9:39-41
Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.



report abuse
 

Travis Greene

posted June 1, 2010 at 12:07 pm


I fail to see what’s controversial here. A call to love and respect our neighbors with differing religious beliefs, along with an explicit rejection of anything-goes relativism, should not be alarming.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted June 1, 2010 at 1:27 pm


“humility please… we’re all “vexed” by something…”
Absolutely. The natire of God’s foreknowledge vexes me routinely, to cite just one example. I am not what you would call a “scholarly” person.
But I don’t think it is arrogant to claim to have settled basic questions of the faith, right down to the fundamental question of whether one even need to believe in Jesus to reach God. The bible is crystal clear on that point, and McLaren relies on obfuscation to lure believers into rethinking it for some reason.



report abuse
 

Diane

posted June 1, 2010 at 2:17 pm


kevin s,
Thanks. You speak my mind. I would add, the audience is those who still need milk–those who need tenderness because they’ve been injured by well-meaning but misguided Christians, those who feel a yearning towards the Divine and the love of Jesus but stumble over stereotypes that paint all Christians as haters …etc.



report abuse
 

Diane

posted June 1, 2010 at 2:22 pm


Scott,
I think what Kevin s is saying is that many JCers have put to rest questions of salvation, the resurrection, how can I be a Christian and still respect people of other faiths, how can I be a Christian and not be on the side of the Crusaders/fundamentalists/zealots who distort Christianity …



report abuse
 

DRT

posted June 1, 2010 at 3:13 pm


Great conversation. I guess I am just immature in my thoughts, but to me:
Jesus is the way (he is the redeemer), the truth (he teaches relationship correctly) and the light (he shows the right way). There is no way to the Father except through his redemption. I don?t see how that is an exclusive claim to some sort of belief in him any more that I am the way and truth and light in providing Christmas toys to children in the Angel Tree, although it is true. They don?t need to believe in me to benefit from what I did in the same way we don?t need to know Jesus to benefit from his redemption. I probably helps to have his truth and light (example) of how to live, but WE ARE ALREADY REDEEMED! Sorry, got carried away there.
Some of the best Christians I ever met did not follow Christ.
Dave



report abuse
 

RD

posted June 1, 2010 at 4:12 pm


I think Brad HAS made a bold statement regarding sorteriology, and I think his are the most thought-provoking comments so far. He has touched on the heart of what it means to be a Jesus follower. Jesus, I think, did this himself in his telling of the Good Samaritan story. Often it isn’t emphasized that the story was told by Jesus in response to the question that was posed to him, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” I often wonder how different the response would be had that fellow asked the Apostle Paul that question instead of Jesus.



report abuse
 

John W Frye

posted June 1, 2010 at 4:16 pm


DRT #34,
Surely you jest! Would you explain the impetus of the evangelistic fervor and mission of the early church if “…they don?t need to believe in me to benefit from what I did in the same way we don?t need to know Jesus to benefit from his redemption”? Your comment is outrageously untenable.



report abuse
 

nathan

posted June 1, 2010 at 4:19 pm


I wouldn’t put Tillich and McLaren anywhere near each other on any kind of theological ladder…just say’n. :)



report abuse
 

DRT

posted June 1, 2010 at 4:41 pm


John #36,
Unfortunately I am not jesting with this position. Please help me see how I am in error.
If people are not helping others (the good samaritan) or murdering children (what is that god in the OT?), or calling Ceasar lord and a god, or worshiping mindless rituals without actually taking care of people, then it would probably be pretty beneficial to evangalize and to have them follow the truth and light of our redeemer.
Actually, per Jesus teachings it is the best example of how to participate in the KoG (following his ways).
However, if someone is sacrificing their life in the way of the truth and life without believing that Jesus is the redeemer, they are still participating in the kingdom work and have indeed already are building up wealth in heaven. They are following Jesus…
Dave



report abuse
 

DRT

posted June 1, 2010 at 4:44 pm


…..I remember listening to some sort of emergent podcast or conference from a few years ago and they asked the rhetorical question, “would Jesus try and convert the Buddha if they met”. I think the answer is no.
Dave



report abuse
 

RD

posted June 1, 2010 at 4:53 pm


John @ 36
I think Dave (#38) is saying much the same thing that Brad did in his two posts. The idea of escaping hell by way of “believing” in Jesus isn’t something that was necessarily taught or modeled by Jesus himself. It has always seemed to me that the notion of evangelizing – turning someone away from their own ideas about God in order to follow our ideas about God – is much more of a human construct. It is so much a part of human nature to create groups of similar interest and belief. It’s no surprise that the early church began to model this in it’s teaching. But, there are so many instances where Jesus could have clearly made the statement that the only way to be saved from Hell was to intellectually acknowledge him. True, there are verses that come close to this statement, but most seem to be located in John’s Gospel which was written much later than all others and clearly reflects a very different concept of Jesus.



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted June 1, 2010 at 4:59 pm


DRT, your points are well made.
Still, you will have a hard time squaring them (1) with other statements in the NT about being lost or about things like Acts 4:12 or about those who were not covered by the Lamb etc — there’s lots of this in the NT — and there’s lots of stiff warnings from Jesus, not the least of which is Matt 7 about “few” that find the kingdom, and you will have trouble squaring this (2) with the Great Tradition of the Church, and perhaps most difficult with (3) the missionary movement of the Church which went largely unopposed until the rise of modernity, if not postmodernity.
I don’t find the idea that all are saved by “Jesus” whether they know him or not anything other than colonialism unless it is objectively and truly God’s revelation. He didn’t say I am the way the truth and the life and then not say “no one comes to the Father but through Me.” It’s the “me” that matters here. It’s not just his ways but him.



report abuse
 

Kenton

posted June 1, 2010 at 5:04 pm


OK, then how about the Good Samaritan story RD brought up in (#35). I think McLaren is saying the Samaritan that “gets it.” That’s pretty overwhelming someone like me who grew up all “Sola fide.” It’s not the Pharisees that “get it.” It’s not even the followers of Jesus who “get it.” It’s a freakin’ Samaritan. Wrong religion. Bad theology. And yet he “gets it.” Jesus’ answer here to “What must I do to inherit eternal life” isn’t “believe the right Christology” it’s “go do what the Samaritan did.” I think what McLaren is saying in this question of pluralism is that there are LOTS of people around us who – like the Good Samaritan – “get it,” but they don’t identify as Christians.



report abuse
 

Tim

posted June 1, 2010 at 5:09 pm


Nathan @37
What does the phrase “just sayin'” mean? I hear people use this phrase, and I don’t get what it means at all.
Tim



report abuse
 

Andy D

posted June 1, 2010 at 5:22 pm


Kenton @43
The point Jesus seems to be making with the Good Samaritan is about who our neighbor is and how to love him/her. While “getting that” is important, there are numerous examples of Jesus stressing how important right theology is. I don’t think we can understand/live that parable, then suddenly claim we “get it” as if all of the nuances and details of Jesus’ message are captured there.



report abuse
 

Kenton

posted June 1, 2010 at 5:47 pm


Andy (#43)-
But isn’t the point of “right theology” to love our neighbor? We’ve made “right theology” the ends instead of the means. I think that’s the old kind of Christianity that, frankly, I’ve had enough of. The New Kind of Christianity BMcL seems to be proposing is making right theology the means to love our neighbor.
Sign me up.



report abuse
 

DRT

posted June 1, 2010 at 5:48 pm


Scot,
Thanks for replying. Acts 4 to me is quite true. There is no one (man) else other than Jesus through whom you will find salvation. The key is salvation. Jesus provided that atoning sacrifice and we are saved.
One of the things that I wonder about when we think of people in other religions is the degree to which we feel they are in a strong faith with their god or belief system. I mean how many times do we have people within our own faith coming to us and doubting that we have “true” faith. Heck, the bible study teacher in my church threw the “ye of little faith” thing at me just for not being a YEC.
So these people in other religions, what are they thinking? I have the honor of working with a great many people who are from the Indian subcontinent. I have a great time engaging them in this conversation since they are inherently from the perspective of the “other”. I often get “they are wrong” as the answer when I tell of this exclusive view. The reason they give is that they say “Jesus was a great man, he would never say anything like that”. It makes me think….
But if we always think of these people outside of Christianity as having some sort of incredibly strong faith then we are mistaken. Like much of American Chrisitianity they are going through the motions for lack of a better way to look at the world. It’s not that they believe in things against Jesus, it’s that they have nothing inherently motivating to believe in about Jesus. Look at the colonialism. That is enough to turn most away, imho.
your points 2 and 3 to me are the work of men. Church tradition is suspect to me, as is conquering tendencies in men. Men want to conquer in the name of religion, or power, or their name, or anything. It comes with the equipment.
Church history is suspect for the same reason that I find your third point suspect. Boys will be boys. They want to dominate and exclude by their very nature. It is natural.
Thanks for the good conversation. I feel honored to be able to bounce my ideas off of you all.
Dave



report abuse
 

Naum

posted June 1, 2010 at 5:55 pm


@Scott #41
“He didn’t say I am the way the truth and the life and then not say “no one comes to the Father but through Me.” It’s the “me” that matters here. It’s not just his ways but him.”
What does “me” mean? Is it a magical incantation, a special recipe, the right words or works? What does it mean Jesus says “through Me”. Do you have to understand Jesus in a catholic or protestant theology? Are Coptic Christians and other “renegade” forms suspect. I understand what you are saying, but then Jesus words in Matthew 25 says something more along what DRT and the “Good Samaritan”?
And regarding “The Great Tradition of the Church”, since reading and studying a great deal of church history, that not a redeeming notion ??it’s actually depressing, all the evil carried out under the banner of Christ. People exiled, burned, tortured, executed, etc.? for simply having a different view of the Trinity or other esoteric point of theology that even, I, well read, makes my head spin and I’m not certain of?



report abuse
 

DRT

posted June 1, 2010 at 5:57 pm


Kenton,
I like your comment. Quite frankly Christianity has only three rules. Love God. Love Others. Don’t sin against the Holy Spirit. I interpret the don’t sin against the Holy Spirit to mean that if you are wondering what to do, pray and think and feel and get advice, and then do what you know is the right thing to do. To go against your truth is (which should be to love God and your neighbor) then you are lost. You will not find the Kingdom.
So if it is about these three, sign me up.
Dave



report abuse
 

RD

posted June 1, 2010 at 6:06 pm


IN Matthew 25 (the only verses where Jesus directly speaks about the actual events that will take place at the last judgement) it’s interesting that Jesus makes absolutely no mention of his own atoning role in salvation. If ever there was a time to introduce proper Christology into the discussion this would have been it, don’t you think? Again, see the Good Samaritan story. Andy #44 identifies the most common interpretation of the story (how we are to love neighbors). But, the POINT of the story is salvation. Eternal life. Not just how to be a good neighbor. Jesus is addressing, once again, the criteria for attaining eternal life. When the Jewish fellow responded to his question of “What does the law teach?” Jesus could have certainly provided the Good Samaritan story as a depiction of loving God and loving neighbor, but he could have gone on to address his own role of atonement. He didn’t. He simply told the man, “go and do likewise.”



report abuse
 

Nathan

posted June 1, 2010 at 6:13 pm


@Tim,
re: just say’n.
For me, in this particular instance, I’m just offering my particular opinion and not really looking to get into any discussion of the relative merits of whether or not McLaren and Tillich are in the same category/rung/whatever.
hope that helps.
:)



report abuse
 

Kenton

posted June 1, 2010 at 6:21 pm


Scot, et. al.-
Can we take John 14:6 and put it back into the 14th chapter of John in between verses 5 and 7? I always hear that verse and it’s never (or perhaps “rarely”) in context.
The first two words of v. 6 are not “I am” but “Jesus answered.” Jesus is answering a question the disciple Thomas is asking. What question? Well, it’s NOT “Hey, Jesus. What about those guys who follow Buddha or Confucius. Will those guys go to the father?” (“Oh, no. *I* am the way…”)
No, Jesus and the disciples are getting a little frustrated with each other. Actually that should read “a lot frustrated with each other.” It’s been building up and starts to reach a head in Chpt 13, when Jesus starts washing the other disciples feet. Everybody loses it. Peter gets snarky with a “Why don’t you go ahead and wash my butt while you’re at it?” (v. 9) It finally peaks in Chpt 14.
Jesus: “Don’t get your panties in a wad. Trust God, trust me.” (14:1) “You know the way to go.” (v 4.)
Thomas: “Uh, no we don’t where are you going without ever knowing the way?”
Jesus: THIS IS THE WAY! Not your way! You guys want me to kick some @$$ around here. That ain’t the way. Do it the way I’m showing you. You ain’t gonna get there any other way.
-Kenton



report abuse
 

Scott

posted June 1, 2010 at 6:22 pm


Would someone knowledgeable like to address the Greek phrasing in “No one comes to the Father but by me.” I’ve come to realize that, in many cases, a statement like this COULD be interpreted:
“All who find the Father have found Him because of what I have done.”
as easily as:
“You will not find the Father unless you give full rational assent to my state as Messiah and Christ.”
This second interpretation (the traditional one), claims that all finding of God is predicated upon conscious belief in Jesus. In the first interpretation (which may or may not be valid) Jesus would be informing us all that, “if you have found God… whether you realize it or not, you have found Him because of the work He did through me.” This makes a big difference.
In my reading of the Tao Te Ching (among other pre-NT writings… including the Greek “Mystery” stories that SO PRECISELY predict the story of the Gospels) I’ve been stunned to hear the words and actions of Jesus verbalized in some cases a full 500 years before his birth. It helps me to know that God is communicating consistent and Christ-centered truth before during and after the days of Jesus to many, many wise and honest seekers of Him.
Anyone else have this experience?



report abuse
 

DRT

posted June 1, 2010 at 6:46 pm


Scott,
Yes. It is everywhere. But we are dense, egotistical, lawyerly (in the bad way), self satisfying humans and for once and for all he finally had to come down here and say it to our faces, and we still don’t believe him.
Dave



report abuse
 

DRT

posted June 1, 2010 at 7:00 pm


Here you go Scott :)
???e? a?t? ??s???? ??? e??? ? ?d?? ?a? ? ????e?a ?a? ? ???? ??de?? ???eta? p??? t?? pat??a e? ?? d?? ????.
Dave



report abuse
 

Scott

posted June 1, 2010 at 7:19 pm


Thanks Dave– that’s perfect Greek to me!



report abuse
 

Andy D

posted June 1, 2010 at 7:37 pm


Challenging thoughts and questions being raised throughout. Again, I want to echo Scott McKnight’s thoughts that Jesus considered his work (John 10:7; Jesus as door/gate + v. 11) not only his lifestyle and message of love the way to the Father. If we want to ignore other writings in the NT it is easier to believe in some kind of universalism.
Kenton @45
I think we’ve created too great of a dichotomy between belief/practice. More people are coming to realize that the two cannot be separated; our lifestyles are based on our theology, so we need right living which is founded upon right theology. Love is such an ambiguous term?how different can the other religious ethic be from the Christian ethic before it no longer qualifies as “the spirit of Christ?” The religious traditions of the world are full of shortcomings that only Christianity has properly addressed. This dilemma leads me to believe only holy living as derived from God’s revelation is sufficient; one which includes the knowledge of Christ’s work to cover our sins.



report abuse
 

Kenton

posted June 1, 2010 at 8:02 pm


Andy D (#56)-
“I think we’ve created too great of a dichotomy between belief/practice…the two cannot be separated…we need right living [and] right theology.”
Yep! I totally concur!
“Love is such an ambiguous term”
C’mon, Andy. Really??? You lost me there. Love is an ambiguous term??? I Cor 13??? John 15:3??? Even Forest Gump said that he “may not be a smart man…but [he knew] what love [was].”
Yes, the religious traditions have shortcomings, and while we take it that Jesus didn’t have them, my *understanding* of Jesus, and my *understanding* of my own faith does. Yours does too. So even if our revelation is complete, our understanding falls short. Isn’t that the same of those whose revelation is incomplete? Wouldn’t they also have an understanding that falls short? But they can still know what love is. And they can still live holy lives.



report abuse
 

Tim

posted June 1, 2010 at 8:08 pm


Thanks Nathan @50
Tillich and McLaren, two different personalities, eras, theologies, contexts. I asked my “ladder” question because a previous commenter compared them.
Peace



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted June 1, 2010 at 10:01 pm


“But isn’t the point of “right theology” to love our neighbor?”
No. The point of “right theology” is to learn how to love God, which involves learning to love our neighbor, fully and completely.
“We’ve made “right theology” the ends instead of the means.”
Who is we? Have you? I have not, though I agree that there are some who do.
“I think that’s the old kind of Christianity that, frankly, I’ve had enough of. The New Kind of Christianity BMcL seems to be proposing is making right theology the means to love our neighbor.”
I cannot think of a single major theological strain which does not emphasize love for our neighbor. The question, then, is how to formulate a theology that presents truth as well as love, not that the two are mutually exclusive.
McLaren telling people that, regardless of what they believe, they will go to heaven, is neither truth nor love.



report abuse
 

K. Rex Butts

posted June 1, 2010 at 10:20 pm


If McLaren has in mind the means by which we treat others who don’t share our convictions (hospitality, generosity, etc…), I think there are betters ways of addressing that issue than doing so in the context of John 14 and with the use of the term “pluralism”. To use that term and that context just seems to create too many barrier walls between him and the Christian church he is trying to address. The term “pluralism” and particular passage of John 14.6 in the context of pluralism is just too volatle and fires up too much defensiveness by those who perceive their convictions to be under attack by one claiming to share their convictions…certainly not a good communication strategy for trying to alter someone’s paradigm.
Grace and peace,
K. Rex Butts



report abuse
 

Kenton

posted June 1, 2010 at 11:29 pm


Kevin S (#59)-
“McLaren telling people that, regardless of what they believe, they will go to heaven, is neither truth nor love.”
And telling people that, only because of what they don’t believe, they will burn in everlasting torment in hell, is both??? See, I don’t think McLaren’s eschatology is “regardless of what one believes, they will go to heaven when they die” as much as “the Jesus of the N.T. is inconsistent with the ‘Theos’ we’ve made him into that in the end is going to fry pretty much everyone’s @$$ but a select few of us.” I know that distinction doesn’t make for a good sound bite, but I believe it would be extremely important to BMcL. It’s time to reconsider conventional heaven and hell eschatology. It’s a part of the NKoCty, and, again, sign me up.
K Rex butts (#60)-
There’s been a lot of getting tripped up over the term “pluralism” in this thread. Regardless of the choice of words, I gather BMcL wants to address the idea that we need to see our friends in other faiths not as “projects” for us to convert, but as conversation partners that can help us grow in maturity in our own faith. *Anytime* that concept is raised, a lot of folks’ minds are programmed to race to John 14:6. So it HAS to be addressed. I agree that it IS volatile, but if we never face it down, there will always be the disconnect. And then the thing he feels most needs to be addressed never will be.



report abuse
 

DRT

posted June 2, 2010 at 7:13 am


My overnight thought.
Regardless of what we believe, if we are not producing loving people toward others then our theology is flawed. I content that Christianity in general is not producing loving people.
As was said earlier, our theology drives our actions. I conclude our theology in Christianity is incorrect (but we know that already, right?). So wouldn’t Jesus approve of us having a potentially incorrect view of what happens in the final judgment if the price for that were that we all loved each other and treated people in accordance with love.
It makes no sense whatsoever to me to be “right” in our beliefs but wrong in our actions and somehow make that a correct Christianity. Like my friends from India say, we are wrong. It is better to get everything wrong about the technicalities of our faith and love others than to get the technicalities right and disparage others.
imho, of course.
Dave



report abuse
 

DRT

posted June 2, 2010 at 7:17 am


…and to address the “love God” part. I sense from kevin that that is the out that you take to justify something other than what is evident in the phrase to love God and love others. A technical definition that includes some sort of justification of “loving God” meaning that you have to have some certain knowledge of God to love God appropriately. Nothing can be further from the truth. Love has no why and love has no how. Love, is love to the person loving. If I love God, then I love God.
Therefore, but their actions all will know we are Christians. Not by our definitions. Go out and do likewise (show love).
Dave



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted June 2, 2010 at 7:59 am


DRT #62, the connection of thoughts to practice is not as tight as you’d like it to be. Some people have wonderful ideas but they do not live them out. And for all practical reasons they are good people, not evil people.
Thus, good theology does not ineluctably lead to good behavior, just as good behavior does not prove good theology was at work. Your comment in 63 almost expresses my point.
I’m with you on the fundamental importance of loving God and loving others; my Jesus Creed book was on that theme, and I find that love is the best expression of who we are and our character, but the connection of ideas to behavior is not simplistic. You’ve got humans and human will etc..



report abuse
 

Diane

posted June 2, 2010 at 8:13 am


Thank you Dave (DRT),
I wonder sometimes whether the “Jesus Creed” ethos that Scot describes is sometimes overwhelmed by a cold intellectualism. I wonder too if this doesn’t reflect a larger “pulling back” from the freshness and openness that emerging offered for a time. I don’t see as many hurting people or doubting people posting as I used to. Maybe I am becoming a McLaren apologist because every time is name is mentioned, he’s predictably demonized. Where’s the “love your enemy?” Isn’t the church doing what it has often done, which is to “burn” anyone whose orthodoxy deviates one micron from the “line,” anyway who tries to open up the conversation or try to actually evangelize to people who are turned off by conventional and unloving answers? Hasn’t he become a scapegoat? What of the opinion, that I’ve heard overwhelmingly, that McLaren is a genuinely decent person and a good Christian?



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted June 2, 2010 at 8:29 am


Diane, au contraire. If you went through all the comments on this post I think you’d find a balance in favor of Brian and not against him, and I don’t see vigorous disagreement inconsistent with loving someone.
I didn’t count the comments and do stats, but my memory on this one is that many (to be sure, some of the same commenters commenting more than once) are in Brian’s favor.



report abuse
 

Diane

posted June 2, 2010 at 9:22 am


Scot,
My rough count is about a quarter in favor of McLaren. Of course, if we exclude “neutral” posts, the percentage of for and against would probably narrow.



report abuse
 

Kenton

posted June 2, 2010 at 10:32 am


Scot (#64)-
“[People who have wonderful ideas but do not live them out] are good people, not evil people.”
Uh, isn’t that the definition of a hypocrisy?
I can’t go there, Scot. What about the story of the Rich man and Lazarus? Jesus didn’t condemn the rich man for his lack of wonderful ideas, he condemned him for not living them out.
Yes, the correlation between beliefs and actions is not 100% as the stories of the rich man and Lazarus, and the Good Samaritan indicate, BUT, it is strong enough that the N.T. emphasizes it because usually actions will follow belief, and where it doesn’t it seems to me that Jesus would rather have our actions good and our beliefs bad than the other way around.



report abuse
 

Travis Greene

posted June 2, 2010 at 10:53 am


kevin s. “McLaren telling people that, regardless of what they believe, they will go to heaven, is neither truth nor love.”
Did he say this? No. He explicitly says he’s not saying “it doesn’t matter what you believe.”



report abuse
 

Diane

posted June 2, 2010 at 11:39 am


While I don’t think Brian is “sinning,” I do think of Bonhoeffer and his contention that you may have to get personally dirty to serve Christ. He was thinking of his own struggle with being part of the plot to kill Hitler, which, of course, on one level, seemed wrong to him. Sometimes evangelicalism is more important than our own doctrinal purity, though I know this is debatable.



report abuse
 

Michael

posted June 2, 2010 at 12:26 pm


I must be missing the obvious since this hasn’t been brought up yet (wouldn’t be the first time!), but…
If people can be good/loving (and who decides that?) apart from belief or knowledge of Jesus, why was the cross necessary?



report abuse
 

Andy D

posted June 2, 2010 at 1:56 pm


I wonder how the notion of repentance and idols plays into this discussion. “…he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world…” Acts 17:30-31 The apostles seemed to have a view that valued the missionary enterprise?or are we just sticking with Jesus? Re post #56 and responses: how far from Christian love can you deviate before being considered an ‘evil person?’ As close as some religions/philosophies come to Christ, we see these cultures practicing infanticide, slavery (in some form), caste system, etc. I wonder how many persons’ moral scale will tip in their favor. Can a person worship an idol, whether it be polytheism, pantheism, and still live a God-honoring life?



report abuse
 

Kenton

posted June 2, 2010 at 2:05 pm


Michael (#71)-
That’s a big – and somewhat loaded – question that bring up all sorts of issues regarding atonement, penal substitution, etc. As I see it, a lot of things were hashed out in the “atonement wars” a few years ago, and a lot of things were left on the table.
I’m strictly an amateur theologian, and probably have a lot to process in answering that question, but my short answer is that Christ’s crucifixion atones for sins apart from explicit belief/knowledge of the event itself.
Who decides who is good? Clearly, God himself does.
FWIW, a lot of what’s here presupposes the new perspective on Paul. Section 3 of http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_New_Perspectives.htm might help.



report abuse
 

R Hampton

posted June 2, 2010 at 3:24 pm


Jesus and Pluralism
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
Matthew 9:35-38
And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
Matthew 10:11-14



report abuse
 

RD

posted June 2, 2010 at 4:27 pm


Michael @71 asked, “If people can be good/loving (and who decides that?) apart from belief or knowledge of Jesus, why was the cross necessary?”
Was the cross necessary? Or was it a natural consequence of the movement (and teaching) that Jesus was sparking? Was atonement a later idea that the disciples created?



report abuse
 

Cristi

posted June 2, 2010 at 8:38 pm


Andy bro, I must commend your Evangelical stance against McLaren’s Pluralism. This interview had little substance, with vague answers, that charts nothing new for Christianity. What really interests me however, is the link Kenton posted on N.T. Wright. Here it comes again: the fate of the un-evangelized, as you have clearly delineated and as Kenton also suggests: “…my short answer is that Christ’s crucifixion atones for sins apart from explicit belief/knowledge of the event itself.”
Kenton, if you were answering Andy in your 2nd paragraph, I don’t see how you came to that conclusion from the article you posted. To be sure, it requires careful reading. But I agree totally with him in the section 3 you mentioned and section 1. Section 2 does have an intriguing new definition of the righteousness of Rom.1:17 (as pertaining only to God Himself), but he seems to make no direct comment on the next part of the verse “…The righteous shall live by faith.”
In part, I agree with much of his expounding this over-arching theme from the Law,Prophets, to Gospel, because I see no conflict between them either. But I do think he’s splitting hairs here, because later he does get back to the individual’s need for God’s righteousness, just in another manner of accounting (also like his use of “vindicated”). And I’ve always seen Rom.9-11 just like him (like many other Evangelicals I would guess). Sadly though, in his communal zeal, I noticed a cheap shot at Americans, blaming them for seeking a new scapegoat in Moslem terrorist after the cold war. What??? That makes me really doubt his perceptive abilities and his flavor of the “New Perspective” altogether. No pun intended, but he’s employed some subtle slights as well. Also makes me wonder how much these post-modern theologians have really staked on “the community” in this era. Don’t be surprised if it crumples again, as history has often decreed.
I wonder if all this “radical” questioning of orthodoxy is not leading to questions such as RD’s, who asks if the cross & atonement was really necessary, or an idea created by the disciples.
RD, have you gotten your theology from the DaVinci Code?



report abuse
 

Kenton

posted June 2, 2010 at 11:20 pm


Christi-
I wasn’t drawing the conclusion from the article, I was showing how the disconnect starts long before the question of pluralism arises.
Michael in #71 seemed to be approaching this from a more Lutheran “Sola Fides” position, which is in contrast to section 3 in the link. I don’t think we can address the question of pluralism without addressing this first. Otherwise we end up talking past each other.



report abuse
 

Brad

posted June 3, 2010 at 2:03 am


Wow – I’ve been on the road for a couple of days and there s a lot of commenting.
I won’t rehash my earlier comments (#7 and #17)
56 Andy: “only holy living as derived from God’s revelation is sufficient” I couldn’t agree more, but that revelation comes from all sorts of sources: experiences, people’s words and actions, the scriptures, all by the prompting of the holy spirit. What is holy living then – I submit it is wholeness (mind, body, soul – all lined up). All this bantering on this blog points to ideas with scripture. but i think that real revelation from scripture comes because it is in the mix of every other aspect of life (home, school, work, play, church activities (gag), relationships (marriage, children, siblings, parents), etc. you said, “our lifestyles are based on our theology,” and I think for many theology is esoteric, philosophical, intellectual, arid. But in terms of scripture – there is something breathing, living, organic, fecund going on with the Holy Spirit’s presence. I recognize that this makes alarms go off because some will say, “So how do I know if someone’s revelation is legit or if it’s a power play, etc?” SHort answer to me: Fruits. Second Answer: It doesn’t matter because my personal revelation does not have to guide anyone else. It is between me and God. And someone else’s revelation does not guide me unless I choose to follow it because I see that it is BENEFICIAL to all of us (see my earlier posts). Someone said earlier, “God judges.” I leave it at that (though I really don’t because I judge people all the time and it is a sin. I’m sorry). The next question: SO how do I respond when the pastor declares a revelation and I don’t agree with it. You can choose to ignore it, talk to the pastor about it, or make a public (in front of all the church you attend) statement about it. In any of these there are consequences. The meek will inherit the earth. Our relationship with God is personal. Kierkegaard writes much on this. Of course, it is also communal, though judgement is personal, between God and me.
You also talk about BELIEF and PRACTICE, and I would say, in my mind, the difference is between BELIEF and FAITH. I think in the NT it becomes clear that belief and faith are not the same thing. Faith has something to do with HOW WE LIVE. There’s that MAtthew passage where JEsus says to those who say, “We cast out demons in your name, we prohesied” etc., “Depart from me. You never knew me.” Clearly many will believe in Jesus, maybe even believe that he is the Son of God, that he died and was ressurected, etc, but Jesus seems to say they did not put their faith in him. They did not TRUST him to DO WHAT HE PROMISED, to never leave or forsake them, to be with them always, to save them. Hebrews talks about this as well ( the whole Abraham thing – BUT Abraham was really flawed – he was a pagan – worshiped idols – and tried to do what God promised on his own through Hagar and Ishmael – it doesn’t lessen his FAITH – Kierkegaard deals with this as well).



report abuse
 

Brad

posted June 3, 2010 at 2:05 am


57 Kenton – you answered Andy partially with this: “we all have incomplete revelation” I wholeheartedly agree p- though I can really only speak for myself. But if this is the case, this is a statement about every human being on the planet. In that sense we MUST view everyone we encounter as having incomplete revelation, and we must also view ourselves as having incomplete revelation if we even want God to use us in relationship with others. We’re all on the journey. We leave the judging to God, and we love each other no matter what our perception of someone’s place is on the path to Jesus. It takes the pressure off of us and places it squarely on the shoulders of Jesus at the cross where it should be – we simply respond to his direction in love and allow him to use us.
Here is a Mc Laren moment I think. The issue of relative or absolute Truth. I think a Christian must believe in Absolute Truth, that God is absolute Truth, but I also think that a Christian must not believe he or she possesses complete Absolute Truth. I had a friend who wrote a song called “I Keep God in a Shoebox/It’s Got HOles in the Lid.” HE treats the God he creates like an insect making it do what he wants. Once I believe I have absolute truth as I converse and serve others, I’m not really being directed by the Holy Spirit. I think “pluralism” is based on Relative Truth. I think NOT JUDGING OTHERS who have INCOMPLETE REVELATION JUST LIKE ME still affirms my personal belief and faith in Absolute Truth.
59 Kevin
What right does McLaren, you, me, or anybody have to tell anyone if he or she is going to heaven or not? We should let God, through us in submission to His Spirit tell them with DEEDS and WORDS what Jesus said and did. Then let them choose. And we musn’t give up on them. We must continue to LOVE and SERVE them regardless of their choice. (We might shake the dust off our feet and leave if they reject US, but we still remain available to reconciliation and relationship, just as God does).



report abuse
 

Brad

posted June 3, 2010 at 2:06 am


65Diane
I think you are absolutely right about the “burning at the stake” thing. I am not familar with much of the “emerging church” thing, but the little I have had exposure to, I am deeply interested in, but at the same time I have recognized a strong “intellectual overtone” in much of the teaching. I make no judgement about this. It is merely my observation. You also mentioned the “conventional and unloving answers” are a turn-off. I agree, but I think these answers are really more a result of tradition and culture, particularly the West. I sense that the Western Church (i.e.American) does not really live the way Christ and the early church lived.
70Diane
Compromise is a sin.
We all compromise.
We all sin.
Bonhoeffer was a sinner. (by his own admission)
I am a sinner. (my own admission)
Bonhoeffer and I are both sinners.
Jesus Christ’s grace is sufficient.
(PS – I think that the reason all but one of the apostles and many early disciples may have been put to death because of Christ is because THEY STOPPED COMPROMISING)
I hope I didn’t offend anyone. You are all very thoughtful, and I have enjoyed having to think because of you.



report abuse
 

RD

posted June 3, 2010 at 9:16 am


Re: Cristi @ 76 who asks if I’ve gotten my theology from the DaVinci Code.
No, though I did enjoy the book (movie was a bit lacking, I thought). I responded as I did because I think it is a valid question. Why was the cross necessary? WAS the cross necessary? Does humanity (and all of God’s created universe) need to be atoned for with a blood sacrifice? Where does the teaching of original sin, well, originate? When I read Genesis closely I really don’t see any mention of separation from God or an eternity spent in Hell because of transgression. I see a story that explains why human beings must endure hard living and suffer death. Is there anything in the account that expressly states the theology that disobedience led to damnation? Am I missing something?
And, if there is no original sin (at least in the way that Christianity has always expressed the idea), then was Jesus’ death really an act of atonement?



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.