Thursday, February 11, 2010

A heretic by any other name (2)...

Mike Witmer continues to review and comment on Brian McLaren's latest book "A New Kind of Christianity." The discerning reader will understand that what McLaren is promoting is not a new kind of Christianity but an old kind of heresy.

He does not believe that there was a Fall (or original sin or total depravity or hell) but that what we have traditionally called the Fall is actually “a coming-of age story” which—wait for it—describes “the first stage of ascent as human beings progress from the life of hunter-gatherers to the life of agriculturalists and beyond.” I have quoted him verbatim so you know I am not making this up. I asked my Old Testament colleague where Brian may be getting this from, and he said that this sounds like modern Judaism (which doesn’t believe in a Fall or original sin), except that even it wouldn’t say that Genesis 3 represents a step up.

Brian says a lot of other things in Part 1, but as you can see, he is no longer having a Christian conversation. He prefers the Hebrew God Elohim over the Greco-Roman God Theos, for the former prefers the messiness of story and evolution while the latter is a “perfect—Platonic god” who “loves spirit, state, and being” and is “perfectly furious” with his fallen creation and just wants to smash it all to hell. Theos may be popular with the “fire-breathing preacher” (does anyone know anyone like this?), but he “is an idol, a damnable idol.” Brian writes that he would rather be an atheist than believe in the God that most of us think is found in the Bible.

Four other observations:
1. Brian seems to be offering a modern Jewish rather than Christian perspective on the opening chapters of Genesis. His flat-out denial of a Fall, original sin, and total depravity and his dismissal of Theos raises questions about his view of Paul, who clearly teaches the former in Romans 5, and the New Testament, which refers to God with the Greek term Theos.

2. Brian does not seem to believe that there was a first man and a first sin, but that Genesis 3 is a myth which describes how the entire human race became farmers. This view fits with his acceptance of evolution, as most who embrace evolution find it hard to believe that there was a first man who rebelled in a cataclysmic Fall. I don’t know how the farmer bit fits, but it is funny.

3. The fourth question which Brian will address in this book is “Who is Jesus and why is he important?” Given that Brian doesn’t believe in a Fall, original sin, or hell, that is a very good question. I can’t wait to hear why God would come and die for a world that didn’t need his help.

4. Brian seems incapable of writing a book without taking repeated cheap shots at seminary education. He often reminds us that he missed out on seminary and is better for it, that he would not see what he sees in Scripture if he had gone to seminary. On that we agree.
Read the entire post HERE.

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