Pastor Brian McLaren came to Louisville this week, and his appearance at the Presbyterian Seminary has made the local paper. McLaren appeared with Diana Butler Bass and Marcus Borg at the seminary’s annual Festival of Theology. There’s not really anything new here that we didn’t already know about McLaren, but it’s worth taking a look at the reporter’s description of what he said.
McLaren said old forms of presenting religion — by proclaiming one’s own as true and everyone else’s as false — no longer resonate today.
“You bring more credibility to Christian faith by appreciating your Buddhist neighbor than by critiquing him,” McLaren proclaimed. “It’s a very, very different world, and a lot of people don’t understand it.”
Likewise, the report characterizes Diana Butler Bass’s remarks in this way:
Butler Bass said that the most important value taught by Jesus was to love God and neighbor, not to convert others, which she maintained leads to an “us or them” mindset.”
“It is not a faith that takes sides,” she said. “It is just loving God and loving neighbor. â€¦ It forms new communities. It sets new tables. It calls people who had nothing to do with each other to sit at table together and break bread.”
Both McLaren and Butler Bass are clearly chaffing against any notion of exclusivismâ€”the belief that salvation only comes to those who have conscious faith in Jesus Christ. Moreover, they are both clearly contending against any form of evangelism that relies on an exclusivist evangel. Instead, they reduce Christianity and its mission to social justice causes.
Make no mistake. This is old liberalism reincarnated, and it’s just as dangerous and as irrelevant as ever.