What happened to McLaren, Bell, and Miller?

Kevin Miller has an article at CT’s Leadership Journal reflecting on the departure of Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, and Don Miller from evangelicalism. Ten years ago, these three were supposed to be the leading lights of a new kind of Christianity. But where are they now? Miller writes:

Why has this happened? Is it a fluke, an anomaly that the three leading voices for a new evangelicalism have all, to one degree or another, left the church’s teachings and worship?

Is this a morality tale about celebrity’s corrosive power, a power Jesus understood and fled from (John 6:15)? Well, yes, but I think it’s something much deeper, something that points not just to them, but to us, not just to three voices but to hundreds of thousands of evangelical ears, mine included.

True, Brian, Rob, and Don, being creative souls who long for beauty and truth, flew too close to the sun. But evangelicalism fitted them with wings of wax.

As a movement, we treasure the individual getting right with God, the religious born-again experience, the innovative way to do mission. Sounds good, but when individual trumps communal, experience trumps received teaching, and innovation trumps the Great Tradition, you get exactly what we’ve all just lived through. It can go no other way.

Miller goes on to note that all three of them became untethered from the teaching and worship of the church. Read the rest here.

(HT: Tim Challies)

13 Responses to What happened to McLaren, Bell, and Miller?

  1. Terry Galloway February 22, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    This makes me think of Andy Stanley and his false teaching. He and Joel Osteen will probably not leave evangelicalism because it is the family business. They preach a false gospel and all the people just have their ears tickled. I read Ezekiel 9 last night where the Lord said to mark the people who were sad and crying because of the detestable sins being committed and to kill all those starting in the Temple who were not marked!

    God is very patient with the church but it will be getting worse in judgement against the visible church that supports the things He hates. Matthew 24:8-14 NLT

    But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

  2. johntjeffery February 22, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    Kevin A. Miller: “True, Brian, Rob, and Don, being creative souls who long for beauty and truth, flew too close to the sun. But evangelicalism fitted them with wings of wax.”

    My response: So it is evangelicalism’s fault, and we are to blame, and we have got to get it right, ad nauseum, ad infinitum?!?!?! So it all boils down to their evangelical “wings”? What about the fact that they didn’t fly too close to the sun at all, but away from it into the darkness, having first flown out of the fiery pit to which they will return? What about considering the possibility of a false analogy, based on anti-evangelical presuppositions? Where was the evangelicalism Miller refers to in the First Century A. D. that sprouted the false “super-apostles” in Corinth, and the false teachers and false prophets elsewhere (Acts 20:29-30; 2 Tim. 3:1-13; 2 Pet. 2:1-3:7; 1 Jn. 2:18-19; and Jude 4-19)? The cause and effect assumption that drives his indictment of modern evangelicalism does not appear at any point to have examined the modern scenario from a Scriptural perspective. As such it has been weighed in the balances and been found wanting when it comes to credibility.

    Kevin A. Miller: “It turns out that we evangelicals need a loftier ecclesiology, where the words of St. Cyprian sound natural to our ears: “He can no longer have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother…”

    My response: Ah! Now the smoke is clearing, and the agenda becomes more apparent. We have heard this “Mother Church” lingo before. It has a familiar ring to it. A very Roman ring. A Tridentine ring. A Counter-Reformation ring. The loftier ecclesiology Miller is apparently arguing for is what they have at the Church of the Resurrection , where he serves as “Associate Pastor”. The leaders wear collars and robes and are called “Father” or “Bishop”. One of the ordinances is referred to as “The Eucharist”, and the other sprinkles “a little dab’ll do ya’” on unbelieving infants. The call upon the communicants to make confession with priests or lay leaders. This is his “loftier ecclesiology – one step closer to Rome in an Americanized Anglo-Catholicism.

    In Miller’s concluding bullet comments he stays in stride with his clericalism and “High Churchism”. His answers include: 1) more clericalism based on an Old Covenant pattern, and 2) the Church as the “Mother of the Scriptures”.

    Kevin Miller: “Let me get specific about what this will take.
    • A more robust view of the role of the minister. “The priesthood of all believers” has been used to excuse rampant individualism. But when God spoke to the Israelites, “You will be for me a kingdom of priests,” he also gave them Aaron and his descendants to serve as priests in a particular way. The New Covenant removes the need for new sacrifice, but not the need for covenantal elders and guides.
    • A more robust view of Scripture. “Sola Scriptura” has been used to mean, “Only the Bible and me–whatever I read the Scripture to mean.” It means instead “Only the Scripture has primacy in authority—yet that Scripture was written by the church to the church for the church, so it must be read within the church.”
    • A more robust view of rejection. Brian, Rob, and Don wanted what we all want, a faith that will make sense to our culture and take hold there. But Jesus taught that the applause is loudest for the false prophets, so we need to learn how to rejoice in being maligned, especially with the growing prospect of persecution.”

    My response: The only point he got right (finally) was in his third bullet recommendation: “the applause is loudest for the false prophets”!

    Oh, and by the way, his title blurb begs the question: “A decade ago, they stood as the leading voices for our evangelical future.” And the question is: “Who says so?” I can think of along list of evangelical voices that are indeed the leaders for “our evangelical future”, and none of them look anything like the motley crew Miller is referring to! The actual question Miller asks in the blurb, “But do we know why?”, may deserve an answer, but not the one his article presents. Miller thinks that he has the answer to the question, but he is sadly mistaken as a reading of Church history will reveal. His liturgical and clerical “lofty ecclesiology” has had its own share of misfits, false teachers, false prophets, apostates, sodomites, etc. The “lofty ecclesiology” of the Romanist cult “mothered” the Scriptures into oblivion in an unrecognizable language chained to their massive cathedrals while generations went on their superstitious ways to an eternal hell. The Anglo-Romanists both here and abroad have proven themselves quite tolerant of every imaginable error in the highest levels of their “clergy”. Miller’s answer to his own question is a curse and a blight on the faith once delivered to the saints. The answer of the Lord in His Word is quite different. See for example the glaring differences between Miller’s counsel and that of the New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: Acts 20:26-35; 2 Tim. 3:14-4:5; 2 Pet. 1; 2 Pet. 3:8-18; 1 Jn. 2:20-29; Jude 3, 20-25).

    Sola Scriptura, Solo Christo, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Soli Deo Gloria,

    John T. “Jack” Jeffery
    Pastor, Wayside Gospel Chapel
    Greentown, PA

    22 FEB 2014

    • johntjeffery February 22, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

      *a long* rather than “along” in the last paragraph!

    • johntjeffery February 22, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

      FYI: The Church of the Resurrection is in Wheaton, IL, and their web is at churchrez.org [accessed 22 FEB 2014]. “Church of the Resurrection is a liturgical church of the Anglican tradition; we are affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Our Sunday morning services incorporate a blend of three great traditions: Anglican liturgy, charismatic worship, and evangelical preaching.” Source: Facebook at churchrez/info [accessed 22 FEB 2014].

  3. Ken Temple February 22, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

    But one could also tell they were heading that direction just by reading “A Generous Orthodoxy” by Brian McLaren – the trajectory was already there and that is why so many had problems with the whole “Emerging”/Emergent” church movement from the beginning. It’s underlying DNA had liberalism and leaving sound doctrine and the Bible and local church authority built into it from the start.

  4. James Bradshaw February 23, 2014 at 7:25 am #

    Why is Bell’s message so offensive? Like Calvinism, it’s simply another form of theological determinism, except that God will eventually convert the hearts of everyone instead of a few. It’s not saying that bad people will remain wicked.

    Are Christians required to believe that God consigns most people to Hell? Is this part of an orthodoxy that must be accepted if one is preach from the pulpit without being labeled a “false prophet”?

    • Rick Willson February 23, 2014 at 8:33 pm #

      In short, yes.

      • James Bradshaw February 24, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

        I think it’s sad that for you to find meaning in life, you must … MUST … believe that most of the people around you are going to burn in unending torment forever.

        I’ve never understood why fundamentalists are such angry, bitter human beings.

    • Ian Shaw February 24, 2014 at 9:55 am #

      When Bell’s leading arguments for God not sending anyone to hell begin with, “did God really say….it should immediately render back to Genesis 3 and the language used by the serpent to usurp the authority of God. It’s not offensive per se, it’s ignorant at best and spiritual suicide at worst.

      HIs trampoline/springs analogy falls flat on it’s face, as what we know about God is revealed in Scripture. To claim to not need to use Scriputre to see God revealing his nature to us opens up massive issues with not just hermeneutics, but Bell’s theology as a whole.

  5. Ian Columba February 24, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    I’m somewhat disturbed that the post about Kevin Miller’s article on Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, and Don Miller is offered without any commentary on the conclusions that he draws.

    If you read the article completely, Miller’s conclusion is to promote the authority of the “Holy Church” to corral creative people. I disagree completely. Read my assessment here: http://goo.gl/DuLwmQ.

  6. Andy Chance February 24, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    It would be interesting to see a follow-up article on other people who emerged from the same group (like Doug Pagitt, Dan Kimball, and Mark Driscoll.) In different ways, Kimball and Driscoll moved back toward evangelicalism, broadly defined.

    • Ian shaw February 24, 2014 at 11:32 am #

      I’m not 100% in the Driscoll camp, but I was glad to see yhe had enought sense to get outta Dodge when he saw the way his counterparts viewed their theology (or lackthereof).

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