McKnight Interviews McLaren

Scot McKnight recently sat down and asked Brian McLaren three questions about what exactly McLaren believes (see above). I have the three questions transcribed below, but I think the last question is the most important.

In the third question, McKnight asks McLaren if he’s a universalist. Don’t hold your breath for a direct answer because McLaren doesn’t give one. McLaren says that he is not an exclusivist but that he can’t say that he’s a universalist either. He won’t commit to either view. McLaren’s says that he’s working within a new “narrative” in which those old questions of heaven and hell don’t make sense anymore. In spite of McLaren’s obfuscation, I think it’s pretty clear that he’s a universalist.

Here are McKnight’s questions:

“Most of us detect a provocative ambiguity, while others wonder if there’s not a deliberate refusal to clarify your views… Why not just come out and tell people what you believe?”

“Many of us wonder if you have abandoned Generous Orthodoxy. How do you square what you are rejecting in A New Kind of Christianity (the Greco-Roman narrative) with your earlier affirmations of Generous Orthodoxy?”

“You seem to be coming out as a universalist… Is this true? And if it is, what led you to be a universalist?”

(HT: Robbie Sagers)

43 Responses to McKnight Interviews McLaren

  1. Scott S. August 15, 2010 at 3:11 am #

    It is VERY clear that he is a Universalist, he just won’t admit it.

    I think its crazy that he thinks we should ask the question: “how can this creation be healed and how can we participate with God in the healing of creation.” But he doesn’t take what scripture says the answer is. I think that it’s great how Scot pointed out that we should have more of an eternal view on things, that definitely shifts focus on what is important for the Church to deal with.

    This guy sounds like a politician, just want’s to make everyone happy.

  2. jigawatt August 15, 2010 at 10:26 am #

    Denny, this post isn’t about homosexuality but a lot of your posts are. Why are you so obsessed with homosexuality?

  3. jigawatt August 15, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    At the end of my comment there was supposed to be an end-sarcasm tag, but it didn’t show up.

  4. Charity August 15, 2010 at 10:54 am #

    Hi Denny

    Having watched and listened to the video, it seems to me that McLaren quite clearly says that he isn’t a universalist. That’s about the clearest thing that he says apart from that he isn’t an exclusivist. I suppose then that he’s saying that there’s room to be something between these two extremes.

  5. Trevin Wax August 15, 2010 at 1:11 pm #

    Denny,

    What irks me about this conversation is how condescending McLaren is to McKnight, as if Scot is too muddled a thinker to be able to comprehend McLaren’s new paradigm. No… Scot knows and understands McLaren’s paradigm and chooses to reject it. The irony seems to be lost on McLaren when he talks down to McKnight in a way that excludes him for being “exclusionary”.

  6. Denny Burk August 15, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    Trevin,

    I agree. I have never heard McLaren as condescending as he is in this interview. I thought Scot was really patient and didn’t respond in kind.

    Thanks for the comment.

    Denny

  7. Mark August 15, 2010 at 4:41 pm #

    Satan doesn’t tell false preachers to just go out there and loudly preach a filthy lie. He works sneakily into people, telling them to believe things that sound orthodox, while yet the underlying foundation is rotten to the core.

  8. Ali August 15, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

    Which is which? They both look the same? Is there a parable in that?

  9. Ali August 15, 2010 at 7:22 pm #

    Or, should I say, who is who?

  10. Charlton Connett August 15, 2010 at 7:28 pm #

    Based on what McLaren says in this interview it seems like he has simply embraced a radical form of existentialism. Am I the only one getting that? His inability to look to the eternal in examining questions and his constant focus on purely this-worldly problems seems to indicate he is refusing to deal with anything beyond his current existential reality.

  11. Frank Turk August 15, 2010 at 11:07 pm #

    Denny — I don’t follow Dr. McKnight as closely as I used to. Has he come out recanting any of his older defenses of McLaren? It seems to me that at some point he will need to retract some of that because he does recognize McLaren is leaving the fold.

  12. Jeff Miller August 16, 2010 at 5:07 am #

    Thanks for posting Denny. Mcknight seems to be saying there are things he can agree with McLaren about. I always appreciate someone trying to see what “the text” is actually talking about over against uncritically received interpretive tradition.
    But if McLaren is loyal to Jesus then he will submit to Jesus’ take on the narrative of Israel. That narrative is one of exclusivity. Jesus is the temple where God will meet man. He came for Israel, to be Israel, and to ultimately define Israel around himself and his own loyalty to God. On the other hand, if we are united to Jesus Christ then we will acknowledge that the exclusivity of Jesus does not share heart space with pride, oppression, or racism.

  13. Andrew Cowan August 16, 2010 at 8:21 am #

    Frank,

    McKnight distanced himself from McLaren in his review of A New Kind of Christianity, which can be found at http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/march/3.59.html

  14. Charlie August 16, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    I am going to coin a new phrase. Every time someone asks me a very pointed question to make me reveal what I believe, but I don’t want to answer it and reveal what I believe, I am going to reply, “I plead Miami!”

  15. Dave Moore August 16, 2010 at 11:55 am #

    My first book was a critique of annihilationism (or conditional immortality), especially as embodied in the writings of Clark Pinnock. Though I take major exception to Pinnock’s view, he was kind enough to endorse my book along with the likes of J.I. Packer, Wayne Grudem, and Dallas Willard. That is preamble to my comment.

    I read Generous Orthodoxy by McLaren and was also frustrated by the “provocative ambiguity.” However, I believe we as evangelicals must do a better job restraining our own dismissive comments, ad hominems, and condescending rhetoric. Augustine’s hermeneutic of charity must be resurrected.

  16. Ryan K. August 16, 2010 at 12:01 pm #

    This is just sad. For all the promise the emergent church offered about a fresh “conversation,” all we have gotten is a bunch of strawmen and dearth of integrity that will not give honest answers.

    The irony is that McLaren has to demonize and “fundamentalist hunt” to make all his points.

    To pretend at this point that McLaren is not just repackaging 20th century liberalism is just absurd.

  17. henrybish August 17, 2010 at 9:30 am #

    Romans 16:17-18

    I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

  18. Sam G. August 17, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    In fact – McLaren IS an exclusivist. 17:48 + / – “Maybe I could transport people from ‘your’ paradigm to ‘my’ paradigm.” Ryan K. said is well – The whole while McLaren speaks against hunting – he’s actually hunting, himself. He also seams to be bringing up the “message of Jesus Christ” quite often but hasn’t clarified what message that is. This is actually the core of issue. The Gospel. Christ crucified. Christ wasn’t born of a virgin, didn’t live a perfect life, wasn’t crucified on the cross, and didn’t resurrect on the 3rd day so we can ‘learn to see the image of God in others’. McLaren’s Gospel is so off base – if the Gospel is Miami – he’s definitely in Portland / Seattle.

  19. Brent Riggs August 17, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

    This may sound too blunt, but I wonder when genuine Christianity is simply going to choose to call McLaren what he really is: non-Christian, and move on. We bend over backwards giving the benefit of the doubt hoping to hear something which indicates some authentic understanding of Scripture (and rightfully so for the most part) but there comes a time when we should finally shake the dust off our sandals and simply declare false teachers and deniers of the true Lord Jesus what they are. Time is short. People need clarity and truth… not this wishy-washy, condescending, look-how-smart-and-open-minded-I-am, arrogant confusion-paradigm. Harsh, I know. But again, time is short and people need the simply clarity of Gospel of Christ.

  20. Brent Riggs August 17, 2010 at 5:55 pm #

    Followup comment after listening again… I also find it both amazing and telling that while McLaren quotes all sorts of writers and books and concepts, he doesn’t quote Jesus or the Bible in a discussion about faith and theology. I guess I’m just trapped in my delusion (according to McLaren) and old way of thinking. As for his desire to steer people away from the traditional view of “us and them”, “saved and lost”, I wonder if Brian will try to convince the Lord Jesus if He should come off that approach when he finally meets Him. And while he’s at it, maybe McLaren can finally enlighten God about His need to explore some news ways of looking at His once-delivered Timeless Truth (as McLaren encourages today’s Christians to do). God apparently should have thought out His Biblical translation plan a little better because Brian has much more tolerant and effective ideas on how this could have been done too. Geez… how can this type of stuff actually be seriously discussed or considered by anyone with an open Bible. McLaren declares the primary question of the Bible is not “who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell?”… really? Nothing could be more clear; nothing is more pivotal; the overriding theme of the entire salvation epic IS that question… who cares what Brian McLaren thinks is more important than that question and how dare he steer people away from what God has emphasized as the most important question. Our Savior died for that question. Our God gave His only Son for that question. The Bible was written to answer that question. McLaren declares to know better what Christianity is about more than the Author and Finisher himself? McLaren has “deconstructed” himself right out of the simple saving Message that God Himself delivered with absolute clarity. Forgive me for sounding impatient. I just tire of having to follow up with confused people who listen to this ear-tickling mush, helping them sort through the doubt and uncertainty McLaren’s brand of “gospel” engenders.

  21. Joel August 17, 2010 at 11:13 pm #

    Thanks for this. I wish Brian would work out a plausible solution to the problem of election. 1) He would engage with it critically and defend a solution 2) he would stop giving non-answers with is not actually doing theology. Feels like protection of brand name and market share. Too bad.

  22. RD August 18, 2010 at 5:01 am #

    Brent,

    The long arc of the biblical narrative isn’t as simply defined as you’ve made it. In the Torah, for example, there is no concept of Hell. In Genesis God tells Abraham that he will live to be old but makes not claim that he will then go to heaven. In the OT when God blesses and saves it is an earthly blessing and deliverance. In almost all of the OT the struggle for believers isn’t against Satan or his demons. Brian, I think, is saying that we need to look at the arc of the biblical narrative in context of history. Our ideas concerning God literally evolve over thousands of years, and we clearly see this in the pages of scripture. He makes the comment that there really is a wider path on which God can lead people in faith. We (evangelicals) tend to make the path a very narrow one. Even with regard to the incarnation of Jesus, the Bible isnt completely consistant on how this occurred. Paul’s idea about how Jesus became God’s son is not the same as the Gospel ideas that Jesus was born of a virgin, for example.

  23. Charlton Connett August 18, 2010 at 9:01 am #

    RD,

    I think you have missed a lot of the Biblical narrative.

    When Cain and Able made offerings to God, what did God say to Cain? “Sin is crouching at the door. It’s desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7) I’ll agree that this does not imply a war between Satan and his demons and God and his angels, but it does demonstrate that man’s primary conflict is spiritual. This same conflict is repeated throughout the Old Testament.

    In Exodus, when God calls the Israelites out of Egypt what does he do first? He demonstrates he is superior to every one of their gods. He brings death to the Nile, strikes their people, animals, and crops with disease, blots our the sun, and even kills all their first born. God demonstrates to the Israelites and to the Egyptians that he alone is God. His battle is not with the people of Egypt, nor is it even with Pharaoh, it is with idolatry and spiritual rot. God himself makes this clear when he says that he raised Pharaoh up so that he could demonstrate his power.

    This is only two examples. We could go on to mention the fact that God commands the Israelites to avoid idol worship. We could discuss the spiritual warfare seen in Daniel. We could talk about how God chastises Israel in the prophets for chasing after other gods, who are not really gods. If you want a great example of spiritual conflict and warfare look to Job, which is probably an event from the times of the patriarchs, based on Job’s lifespan and the worship and events recorded in the book.

    Yes, the idea of men going on to be with God in heaven is not explicitly described, but Enoch’s being taken by God, and the way Elijah is caught up to heaven both indicate that there was an idea of afterlife present in ancient Jewish society. Likewise the many passages on Sheol indicate that the Jews understood that they were waiting on one who would judge the dead. Even in Job we see confidence of an afterlife as he states that even if he dies he knows he will see his redeemer in his flesh and with his own eyes. So while there is no explicit description of heaven or hell, for the Jews there was definitely an idea of judgment for the dead, leading to punishment or blessing. (The idea of Physical resurrection as it has come into the Christian tradition is imminently Jewish.)

    I also disagree with you about how Paul says Jesus “became” God’s Son. Paul says how God “declared” Jesus to be his Son. (Romans 1:4) But, Paul does not say that Christ “became” God’s Son in anyway that contradicts what is laid out in Scripture. Do you really think Paul is laying out the argument that a mere man, born nothing more than a human, could go on to become God? (Romans 9:5)

    My point being: the things that you say are not in the text, may very well be there. These are not new arguments, they date back over a hundred years now. And conservatives have been responding to them just as long. Brian McLaren is not breaking new ground if he is arguing for an evolving view of Scripture or God.

    If McLaren’s argument is that we may be making the way too narrow, then he is simply wrong. Christ himself made the way narrow. He even said, and I paraphrase, “the way that leads to life is narrow and there are few that find it.” We do not do people a favor by “broadening” that which God made narrow. And if the way should be broadened, then what, pray tell, should be the limits?

  24. RD August 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

    Charlton,

    This probably isn’t the place to get into addressing your comments since space here is limited. Still, I thought I’d at least touch on some of them:

    When Cain and Able made offerings to God, what did God say to Cain? “Sin is crouching at the door. It’s desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7) I’ll agree that this does not imply a war between Satan and his demons and God and his angels, but it does demonstrate that man’s primary conflict is spiritual.

    The original Hebrew rendering of these verses reflect a different idea than what is traditionally perceived when reading the text as it’s been translated through greek into english. What the Hebrew text gives us is the idea that God did not find Cain’s offering displeasing, rather he found Abel’s offering to be “unexpectedly delightful”. Another way to read the text is that God was unexpectedly awed by Abel’s offering. The exchange is very much the same idea of two young children bringing a craft they’ve made for a parent. Both are appreciated but one stands out over the other because of some unexpected talent or expression. Now, Cain’s response was envy of God’s response and he directed his jealousy toward Abel. And God, in the Hebrew, tells him that he needs to adjust his attitude and not be jealous of Abel. And, if he will drop his envy he can “participate” in the joy that God is feeling, and they can all experience the celebration together.

    In Exodus, when God calls the Israelites out of Egypt what does he do first? He demonstrates he is superior to every one of their gods. He brings death to the Nile, strikes their people, animals, and crops with disease, blots our the sun, and even kills all their first born. God demonstrates to the Israelites and to the Egyptians that he alone is God. His battle is not with the people of Egypt, nor is it even with Pharaoh, it is with idolatry and spiritual rot. God himself makes this clear when he says that he raised Pharaoh up so that he could demonstrate his power.

    Yes, God demonstrates superiority to other gods. But the gods are the gods of nations and empires. They are inextricably connected to empire. It is nation against nation (God/Israel vs Aten/Egypt) not individuals vs Satan.

    We could go on to mention the fact that God commands the Israelites to avoid idol worship.

    As I stated above, this does not reflect the idea of a developed teaching of Satan. In ancient days polytheism ruled the day and the worship of gods was directly related politically to the strength and identity of empire.

    We could discuss the spiritual warfare seen in Daniel.

    Daniel was a much later text likely written during the ruthless rule of Antiochus Epiphanes (circ 165 B.C.). It begins to express ideas of life after death noting, for the first time, a distinction between heaven and hell (up until this time everyone, both good and bad, sinners and saints, went into the misty netherworld of Sheol).

    If you want a great example of spiritual conflict and warfare
    look to Job, which is probably an event from the times of the patriarchs, based on Job’s lifespan and the worship and events recorded in the book.

    I have to disagree with you here. I think Job likely was written during the Babylonian exile and is a fictitious work that addresses the very basic question that the Israelites were asking at that time: why must we suffer and why do horrible things happen to devoted people? And, when looking at the identity of Satan in the Job story, you can’t help but see the difference in his character and function as compared to the much later Gospel accounts of Satan where he is depicted as being far more adversarial and cunning.

    …for the Jews there was definitely an idea of judgment for the dead, leading to punishment or blessing. (The idea of Physical resurrection as it has come into the Christian tradition is imminently Jewish.)

    Apocalyptic theology developed within Judaism very late, during the time of the Maccabees (and it’s not at all reflected in the Torah). In fact, not all Jews ever agreed with the idea of resurrection of the dead or life
    after death. The Sadducees who governed the temple during Jesus’ time certainly didn’t.

    I also disagree with you about how Paul says Jesus “became” God’s Son. Paul says how God “declared” Jesus to be his Son. (Romans 1:4) But, Paul does not say that Christ “became” God’s Son in anyway that contradicts what is laid out in Scripture.

    In none of Paul’s writings does he express the belief that Jesus was the son of God because Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit. In fact, he made the simple, straightforward comment in Galatians 4:4 that Jesus was “born of a woman” which in no way denotes a special birth. It is certainly clear that Paul did believe that Jesus was/is God’s son, but the only place that I’ve seen where he comments on how this was made manifest is in Romans 1:3-4 “…regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who as to his spirit was appointed to be the Son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead…” Paul’s focus was almost always on the resurrected Jesus. He rarely ever discusses his earthy ministry, his teachings, his healing ministry. For Paul Jesus is the son of God because God raised him from the dead first and bestowed on him the special designation.

    Other Jewish Christians believed Jesus “became” divine when the Holy Spirit descended on him at his baptism. Still others believed his divinity was removed while on the cross (“Father, why have you forsaken me??!!”) so that, in essence, God wouldn’t be killed.

    Do you really think Paul is laying out the argument that a mere man, born nothing more than a human, could go on to become God?

    I’ve taken WAY too much space thus far so I’ll respond to this only by saying that, yes, I do think there is clear evidence that some of the original apostles viewed Jesus in the traditional Jewish way the messiah would have been viewed, simply as a servant who was given special annointing by God to serve in the messianic capacity. (Why is Jesus never referred to by the apostles as the son of God in the Book of Acts? he’s always referred to as God’s servant) I don’t think Paul thought Jesus was a “mere” human. I think he clearly believed him to be divine. However, I also don’t think Paul shared the Gospel’s version of how Jesus became divine.

  25. RD August 18, 2010 at 1:53 pm #

    Acts 3:13, Acts 4:27-31, Acts 10:37-38, Acts 2:22, Acts 2:36

    Notice how Jesus is referred to as “servant” or how he is referred to as being “annointed” by God or “made to be” both messiah and Lord. He’s not spoken of as being specifically divine or as being God’s son.

  26. Darius August 18, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    RD, you’re operating from a completely different paradigm as everyone else. You view Scripture as a product of men, while we view it as God-breathed. Until you have the Holy Spirit open your eyes to the truth, this seems a bit of a waste of a debate.

  27. Brent Riggs August 18, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    Darius,

    Amen. The tired, cold and frankly silly arguments that Jesus didn’t claim to be God, and the Apostles didn’t either… that somehow Jesus “became” God from a state of being “less than” that (in ANY way) originates from an a priori baseless viewpoint that has been disproven so many times it is indeed a “waste of time” to discuss it.

    People that hold this view hold it because it fits an agenda, nothing more. There is no sensible or honest reading of God’s Word that leads a person to believe Jesus was anything short of GOD from eternity past to future.

    FYI, this is also a viewpoint held by the likes of Copeland, Hinn, Meyers, Price, etc because it fits their “man is a little god” agenda.

    No matter how or where it originates, if you, to any degree, remove the eternal and complete God-nature from Christ, you present a false Christ and are therefore part of the worldwide spirit of “antiChrist”.

    There are a handful of essentials there can be no compromise on (NONE) and the deity of Christ is preeminent among them. To the chagrin of the world, and even many Christians who are bathed in the cultural acceptance of tolerance, political correctness and “all religious ideas are somehow equal if held in equal sincerity”, there is no room for “new ways of thinking” (ala McLaren) on what God has left no room on.

    It is a waste of time to discuss it unless someone is truly asking the question and needing help to understand, rather than presenting the tired old (and silly) liberal theological confusions.

  28. Charlton Connett August 18, 2010 at 6:02 pm #

    RD,

    Darius and Brent both make an excellent point. To try and demonstrate to you the reasons and evidence for our position would require space we simply don’t have and would go over points that others have addressed. Your view on Scripture is simply so different from mine that there is very little common ground for us to talk about. I would honestly say that the view you have laid out is in fact so far away from the historic view of the church, that you are walking a tightrope of denying the faith. If you are holding that Christ was a man who became God, then your doctrine may already have taken you away from orthodoxy and the faith that has been delivered to the saints.

  29. RD August 18, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

    If you are holding that Christ was a man who became God, then your doctrine may already have taken you away from orthodoxy and the faith that has been delivered to the saints.

    Charlton,

    I didn’t say that I personally believed that Jesus was a man who became God. I don’t think that there is any doubt, though, that during the first century A.D. there were Christians who did. I think that Peter and James (and likely John, too) were apostles that held onto Judaism, recognizing Jesus to be the Jewish Messiah. I think their view likely was that Jesus was annointed as the Messiah by God. It is completely in keeping with Jewish messianic thought. I believe the Book of Acts shows us this. It is a subtle distinction but one that is clearly present throughout the entire book. When Peter is preaching at the home of Cornelius read how he describes Jesus. Compare his testimony of who Jesus was and what he did with the testimony that we see in Paul’s letters. Read the scripture references I posted a few comments up and read them for what they actually say (Acts 3:13, Acts 4:27-31, Acts 10:37-38, Acts 2:22, Acts 2:36). Nowhere in Acts, that I’ve been able to see, is Jesus proclaimed by his apostles to be God’s divine son.

    Now, I think Paul had a HUGE problem with this. Read Paul’s remarks in the opening chapter of Galatians. He is fuming mad about some account of his personal salvation experience and his later ministry that is being circulated (clearly the churches in Galatia have seen it). I think this is likely some early version of Acts. Paul’s account of his own conversion and ministry differ from the account that the book of Acts offers. I think it is clear when you read through Galatians that Paul is at theological odds with James and the Jerusalem church, and I think one of the reasons he is in disagreement with them is over this issue of the actual divinity of Jesus. Paul clearly states over and over throughout his writings that Jesus is the son! In the book of Acts, however, Paul isn’t recorded as proclaiming Jesus to be the son of God. In Acts when he describes Jesus or proclaims Jesus he shares the description of Jesus that is presented by the Jerusalem apostles (servant, annointed one, Messiah) which was a profoundly Jewish understanding of who Messiah would be. I think this is why Paul vehemently proclaims in Galatians that the account he is giving in his letter (the Book of Galatians) to the churches in Galatia is “not a lie” (because clearly some account was being circulated that was a lie as far as Paul was concerned).

    Now, having said that, I never said that I don’t believe Jesus to be the divine son of the living God. I do. But, to deny that there have always been differing opinions concerning the nature of Jesus, how his divinity was made manifest, etc among his followers down through the centuries (including even within the pages of scripture) is just not being honest.

  30. Charlton Connett August 18, 2010 at 8:30 pm #

    RD,

    Where you see conflict I see a difference in focus. Where you think the church has always had some who disagreed about whether Jesus became the Son of God through divine intervention, or whether he was always the Son of God through eternity, I hold that those groups that interpreted Scripture in the former way used a poor hermeneutic and were heretical. As I said, and Darius before me, you and I have such a different view of Scripture that we simply will not and cannot agree on matters like this.

  31. MatthewS August 18, 2010 at 10:23 pm #

    1) I think McKnight’s comment was very insightful, that McLaren claims to play outside of and removed from the “old paradigm” yet he tickles the same old questions.

    2) I don’t think it reflects well on Brian at all to express sympathy for how hard it must be for Scot to comprehend where Brian is coming from. McKnight of all people has defended him and offered the best possible spin on his work for years. Condescending to someone that is at least your equal does not make you look smarter.

  32. Wes August 19, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    Brent – Amen… I couldn’t agree more with you, especially your wondering when we just say “enough is enough” with this and move on. And this is the second blog this week I’ve seen RD hijack. He’ll have us on his defense of homosexuality soon enough.

    “How can two men walk together except they be in agreement?”

  33. RD August 19, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    And this is the second blog this week I’ve seen RD hijack.

    I didn’t realize that expressing my perspective and convictions on issues that are posted on a blog is the same as hijacking it. So, the deal is that the blogs need to simply represent the thoughts of only those who think the same way about a particular issue?

    Issues concerning gender roles, committed homosexual relations, interpretation and authority of scripture, the nature of God (open theology), understanding the end times, the nature and role of the Holy Spirit, ecological stewardship, etc. are all very important issues that directly impact our personal Christian walks as well as the state of the Church in America. Thoughtful, prayerful dialogue about the intricacies of these issues is important (at least I think so).

    More and more Christians are reading the scriptures critically and asking tough questions. On a host of issues from creation science to sexual identity they are trying to reconcile what scripture says with what science is discovering. For example, Dr. Mohler says that the earth and the universe just appear to be old but are really no more than 6000 years old because of a set of geneaologies that are provided in scripture. That, somehow and for some reason, God just made it look old.

    I think the reason that Brian McLaren and Clark Pinnock and Tom Oord and MArcus Borg and Luke Timothy Johnson and others like them appeal to so many Christians and non-Christians is because they are willing to honestly examine every aspect of the faith. And where old traditions and understandings no longer hold up they are willing to seek the Holy Spirit to guide them into the truth.

  34. Wes August 19, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

    RD,

    My point is that you are sounding like a broken record. You’re not adding new arguments to support your point – you’re just repeating them. We’ve heard you, and don’t agree. Is there a point to continue to press the same points to an audience that has heard, but disagrees with you?

  35. Brent Riggs August 19, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    Wes & all,

    RD has us on this one. Don’t you know by now that in America if you keep repeating the same lie long enough, it becomes the truth?

    Seems to work great in Congress, Human & Earth Origins, salvation and ObamaWorld.

    BR

  36. RD August 19, 2010 at 10:59 pm #

    Wes, I may be the desenting voice (most of the time) on most evangelical blogs, but my intent is to make the point that not all evangelicals approach every issue in lock step.

    Brent, you condescendingly comment on my views by stating, “RD has us on this one. Don’t you know by now that in America if you keep repeating the same lie long enough, it becomes the truth? Seems to work great in Congress, Human & Earth Origins, salvation and ObamaWorld.” A widely read Christian blogger wrote the following: “If you think I’m wrong, then we disagree. Big deal. Christians can maturely disagree without insults, accusations or condescension. At least, we used to be able to. I’m not sure anymore…”

  37. Wes August 19, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    RD,

    As I said on the other blog, you’re the one who seems to be beating the dead horse…

  38. Brent Riggs August 20, 2010 at 12:02 am #

    RD,

    It has nothing to do with condescension. It has to do with the constant drumbeat of “tolerance” by theological liberals (who are in reality the most intolerant bunch breathing) and their relentless replay of tired and long-disproved liberal arguments about God, the Bible and Christianity. I tire of having to allocate precious time for and having to accommodate the same regurgitated $12 enlightened “thinking” that, while eloquent at times with it’s high language, is worse than empty and has only one purpose: obfuscate, dilute and de-power the Word of God once delivered to the Saints in clarity, harmony and completeness. The time is short for the Lord’s return and the day has come for the Christian Elijah’s and Paul’s to stop finding “common ground” with the McLaren’s, Osteen’s and RD’s of the world and return to preaching with power the Law which exposes sin, and Christ Crucified which saves us from sin’s eternal penalty. There is no more time for useless and repetitive arguments over high sounding theory and “new ways” to view the Bible.

    I’m not condescending… its time to be done with wishy-washy lukewarm Christianity that finds common ground with it’s detractors, deniers and diluters. The Lord Jesus didn’t do it. The Apostle Paul didn’t do it. And God made it clear that this kind of malleable, uncertain and unknowable doctrine is not just like waves of the sea being tossed to and fro but rather like vomit in His mouth that He wants to spew.

    What is insulting about the truth I spoke? Is it not true that in America (religion or politics) we can simply repeat something long enough and it becomes truth? Evolution, uniformitarianism, moralism, humanism immediately come to mind without even touching liberal theology or politics.

    You stated, “If you think I’m wrong, then we disagree. Big deal.” More than anything I’ve read from you, this statement is most revealing.

    You think to disagree on Biblical issues which God is clear about is no big deal. When it comes to eternity, the Bible, God and Jesus Christ, to disagree IS A BIG DEAL. You think to disagree on the sufficiency of Scripture is no big deal. You think to disagree on the deity of Jesus Christ is no big deal. You think to disagree about “new ways” to look at the Bible is no big deal.

    IT IS A BIG DEAL AND IT’S TIME FOR MEN OF GOD TO QUIT BEING LIKE OSTEEN AND MCLAREN, AND BE LIKE ELIJAH AND PAUL in how they proclaim, defend and preach Christ.

    I’ll not back down because you called me a name (“condescending”). I’ve not insulted your motives or person. I don’t know you. I’m sure you are a nice guy, love your family and friends. But you are WRONG about the Bible, WRONG about eternity, WRONG about CHRIST and wrong about other issues the Bible is clear about. Wrong. Not just “new thinking” or another way of looking at things. You are wrong, and I’m done with finding common ground with the McLaren’s of the world. They have the Truth in front of them and they choose to ignore, distort or confuse it.

    Shake the dust off, and find others who are open to the truth. Elijah not Osteen. Paul not McLaren.

    Time is short. The Lord Jesus is on the horizon ready to return. Even if you don’t believe it.

    If that’s condescending, so be it. If you find that insulting, so be it. It’s neither in reality, but name calling and playing the victim is typically the last defense of the God-denier, politically correct and liberal.

  39. RD August 20, 2010 at 10:34 am #

    You stated, “If you think I’m wrong, then we disagree. Big deal.” More than anything I’ve read from you, this statement is most revealing.

    Brent, the quote above is from your blog. You wrote it. I didn’t say it, you did.

    I do think it’s condescending to make a statement that I am repeating lies. These are issues of faith and matters of interpretation. You have your strongly held convictions about the truthfulness of your beliefs about how the Christian life should be led and what the authority of scripture is. But not all evangelicals agree with every aspect of your theology. I happen to disagree with more than most, probably. But in the dialogue comes greater understanding, I think. Issues of biblical interpretation vary greatly depending on the issues. Does Paul teach that speaking in tongues is a vital part of Christian prayer? Does the writer of Hebrews state that a Christian can lose their salvation? Is healing by the laying on of hands a current dispensation or was it effective and blessed only in the time of Jesus? Can women lead men in worship or teaching? Paul writes in in certain places that they can’t, but in another place he asks for the blessings for a female apostle. Why the discrepancy? I respect your right to forcefully proclaim your notion of the Christian gospel but I am a Christian who believes that in many cases you are proclaiming an ancient systematically created doctrine.

  40. Chris August 20, 2010 at 11:13 am #

    Well said Brent! Keep the faith and fight the good fight!

  41. Sam G. August 20, 2010 at 11:48 am #

    RD,

    Do you believe that you will be going to heaven when you die? Yes or No would be great.

    Then tell me why you believe you are going to heaven. And then share with me how you came to that belief. (i.e. Circumstances, church denomination, childhood influences, adult influences…etc…) and why you chose that belief system – ?

    I’m not looking for some kind of debate here – gathering from this conversation between you and Brent (and others), we would disagree on the majority, if not all, of your ‘convictions’. I’m thinking there’s greater core issue here. Like many, it’s a Gospel issue.

    Feel free to email me @ sjgietzen@gmail.com

    Thanks!

  42. Brent Riggs August 20, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    And thus the problem.

    You hold to the Liberal, Dr. Laura, Oprah idea that all sincerely held beliefs are equally valid and worthy of equal consideration. You SINCERELY believe you can “interpret” Scripture contrary to it’s obvious meaning and everyone else should honor that and consider it. Of course, even you might draw the line if I popped up with “I interpret the Bible to mean ‘God is evil and hates us all’ because some people to hell and others suffer.” You wouldn’t seriously consider my “interpretation” and would tire of hearing it if I wanted to argue it over and over.

    I draw that same line with God-haters, Bible-diluters, and Jesus-deniers. I do not feel compelled to continually try to convince someone Jesus is God, Hell is real and eternal, and 2000 years of interpreting the Gospel Message and Scripture all of sudden needs some McLaren/RD “rethinking”.

    What God has made clear rises above the noise of human foolishness, endless “spirituality babble” or liberal theological debate. I forcefully proclaim what God has forcefully proclaimed and declared with abundant clarity.

    You list off a bunch of common Christian areas of disagreement… areas that CAN be sincerely disagreed on because God has NOT chosen to declare them in such a way as to be a dogmatic. So for those issues, it is “no big deal” to disagree (in the sense that disagreement should not cause division). You take my “no big deal” that I wrote on my site completely out of context. You’ll never hear me stating “no big deal” on essential issues. It’s a HUGE deal. An eternal deal.

    What God has pronounced beyond disagreement should BE beyond disagreement. The central question of eternal destination, the deity of Christ and the single way to salvation HAS been pronounced beyond disagreement by God. Just because you choose your own interpretation and still disagree doesn’t change that fact. Where do you draw the line? Is nothing clear? Nothing dogmatic? Nothing beyond the “re-interpretation” of humans? Not to liberals.

    Liberty is not mean to be dogmatic or forceful. I’m a long time vocal advocate of liberty. I think Christians make FAR too many things dogmatic where God has not (reference your list for some examples).

    Yes, there are cultural contexts in Scripture that must be considered but to then extrapolate that reality to somehow mean that the deity of Christ and eternality of hell can be culturally interpreted in different ways by different ages/cultures is just plain lawyerly liberal nonsense.

    However, the sufficiency of Scripture, the nature of Christ and “us and them” (saved and unsaved) are NOT matters of liberty or cultural context. Nor is it a matter of INTERPRETATION (the favorite excuse of liberals to ignore the obvious). It is a matter of reading what God has made plain, putting away human pride and foolish human intellect (as opposed to Godly wisdom) and accepting what God declares without ambiguity.

    You’ll never find me “forcefully proclaiming” any issue of true liberty. You’ll never find me equivocating on essentials of our faith that My Savior gave His life for.

    Christians have far too long cowered and shrunk back from the world who claims authority over Scripture by title, high vocabulary, letters after their name or intellectual bullying. Frankly, the blame lies MORE at the feet of Christians who are woefully unprepared to defend the Gospel and typically know more about American Idol, football, their job or cultural trivia than they do about the faith they claim has saved them from eternal damnation. This willful ignorance of their faith and doctrine is the reason why the McLaren’s, Osteen’s, Hinn’s and RD’s of the world get as much air time and consideration as they do.

    It’s time for Christians to put away the therapeutic “Jesus will improve your life” Gospel. It’s time for preachers and teachers of God’s Word to have a backbone and proclaim the world/life-changing Bad News of Impending Judgment and the Good News of Salvation. It’s time to quit wasting time on discussions, teachers and information sources that are clearly contrary to God’s Word. There is a world of difference between Christians discussing, debating and struggling through God’s Word to find Truth… and wasting time arguing point and counter point with people who deny even the clearest Truths in Scripture.

    It’s time to be dogmatic, strong and forceful where GOD has revealed dogmatic Truth. And then to be extravagantly gracious and patient in matters of liberty (which Christianity has hugely failed at doing).

    I don’t respect your right to continue to spread confusion and doubt about God’s Word. I reject political correctness and liberal theology. I don’t respect what you choose to “believe” that is plainly contrary to the Gospel and Scriptures. You have the “right” to spread it, and the ability to “believe” it but Scripture does not compel me to respect it, give consideration of it, or tolerate a forum for it.

    I have not impugned your motives, heart or character… I cannot seen into a man’s heart nor claim to. But neither do I have to “respect” your effort to confuse, distort and dilute true Christianity.

    As I’ve said repeatedly, time is short. The Christianity of Osteen and McLaren needs to be wholly rejected and the Elijah’s & Paul’s of God’s Kingdom need to rise up and use the remaining time to preach with power and authority instead of simply offering another interpretation, another “belief”.

  43. Rob Haskell October 26, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

    Very interesting video. I think we should follow Scott’s humble example and stop 1) complaining about Brians arrogance (if it is there) 2) disagree with him sans all the ad hominims.

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