Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A heretic by any other name (1)...

I have had my fill of Brian McLaren. I have read his books up through "Generous Orthodoxy" which is neither orthodox or generous. But I am glad that others are still reading him with a clear eye so that those who have drunk from the bitter stream of error can know that there still is a voice for God's truth alive and well in the church.

Mike Witmer is reading McLaren's newest tome, "A New Kind of Christianity" (get it?). Not content to give us a new kind of Christian, McLaren now wants to reshape, re-imagine, and remake the whole thing. The church has always had hangers on like McLaren - Arius, Pelagius, Servetus, Finney, etc. Nevertheless, McLaren continues to promote the notion that somehow he is new. In reality McLaren and the rest of his emergent cohorts are as old as heresy itself.

I am going to be posting links to Dr. Witmer's series of posts reviewing McLaren's new book because it's important to not ignore the mischief of heretics. Jesus and the apostles had some very ungenerous words for those who spread error and confusion among the people of God.

In commenting on the introduction to "A New Kind of Christianity" Witmer writes:

I read the introductory three chapters of A New Kind of Christianity, and so far it’s an updated version of the Brian we’ve seen before. He claims to be “a mild mannered guy” who is only looking for a new way to be a Christian that will boost the declining numbers in our churches, and he can’t understand why his critics respond with “fear,” “clenched teeth,” and “suspicion and accusation.” Brian’s really good at winning sympathy, and soon I was loathing myself for ever politely disagreeing with such a nice man.

But then I remembered that this debate about the Christian faith—which he and his friends started—is not a personality contest. You can’t dismiss what Christians have always believed and then expect a free pass because you’re likeable. And just below the surface of Brian’s humble, can’t-we-all-just-get-along vibe is an accusatory tone that repeatedly compares his critics to a religious Gestapo whose leaders defend their conservative beliefs because they don’t want to lose their jobs.

That doesn’t sound like me. I am an easy-going guy who just wants to love Jesus. But to love Jesus, I have to know and believe something about him. Jesus is not an elastic symbol for whatever we happen to value (e.g., inclusive love), but is an actual person who can be known, trusted, and loved.

So why doesn’t Brian want me to know and believe the truth about Jesus? He says that his new kind of Christianity is led by Doug Pagitt, who isn’t sure that Jesus is God; Marcus Borg, who argues that Jesus is dead; and Harvey Cox, a Harvard Divinity professor who wants to blow the whole thing up and construct a new view of God that will connect with our secular age.

Read the entire post HERE.


Jase and Melissa said...

Then, I suppose those non-easy going, strongly mannered anti-emergents are really at the greatest disadvantage. I certainly hope I am -at least- likeable since that seems to be the preeminent condition to having a viable viewpoint. Perhaps us "non-progressives" should consider adopting a Portugeuse Water dog named "Po" to find that elusive common ground and popular appeal.

Todd Pruitt said...


Nice is the new orthodox.

It is interesting. Paul's perspective is that he would rather have someone with bad motives who preaches the Gospel over someone who does not preach the Gospel. It seems in our day we would rather have a nice Joel Osteen or Brian McLaren who are strangers to the Gospel over that mean 'ol John MacArthur. What matters in the church today is not the Gospel but a nice fellow.

threegirldad said...

Still waiting for someone to declare that 5-year moratorium...