As Brian McLaren has drifted further and further off the reservation, I have taken to using scare-quotes whenever referring to him as an “evangelical.” Truth be known, however, he’s no longer even a scare-quotes “evangelical.” If you think I’m overreacting, wait until you hear this.
On August 13, McLaren announced on his blog that he would be observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. This is not a joke. He writes,
“Ramadan is the Muslim holy month of fasting for spiritual renewal and purification. It commemorates the month during which Muslims believe Mohammed received the Quran through divine revelation, and it calls Muslims to self-control, sacrificial generosity and solidarity with the poor, diligent reading of the Quran, and intensified prayer.
“This year, I, along with a few Christian friends (and perhaps others currently unknown to us will want to join in) will be joining Muslim friends in the fast which begins August 21. We are not doing so in order to become Muslims: we are deeply committed Christians. But as Christians, we want to come close to our Muslim neighbors and to share this important part of life with them. Just as Jesus, a devout Jew, overcame religious prejudice and learned from a Syrophonecian woman and was inspired by her faith two thousand years ago (Matthew 15:21 ff, Mark 7:24 ff), we seek to learn from our Muslim sisters and brothers today.”
This explanation is so filled with dangerous and damning error, it’s difficult to know where to begin. For starters, one cannot observe Ramadan as a “deeply committed” Christian. Fasting in the Christian tradition is irreducibly Christocentric. It involves praying to the Father of Christ (Mt 6:18) and longing for the return of Christ (Mt 9:15). The meaning and aim of the Muslim fast has nothing to do with Jesus. How can one observe Ramadan in any meaningful sense and do a Christian fast? The answer is that you can’t. If you try, you will end up distorting the Christian fast with syncretistic gobbledy-goop that is no longer recognizably Christian.
I would warn that McLaren is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but he has dropped the ruse. The wolf is prowling about openly.
P.S. Be sure to read Doug Wilson’s “pile-driving” of McLaren.