Is Brian McLaren “Whoring” the Gospel?

Posted: February 19, 2010 by Rick Hogaboam in Book Reviews, Debates, The Mysterious World of American Evangelicalism, Theology
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Tim Challies seems to think so in his recent review of McLaren’s book, “A New Kind of Christianity”. Check out his blogpost here. A couple excerpts:

It would take more time than I’d be willing to give it to offer a point-by-point explanation of what responses McLaren proposes for each of the ten questions or to document the ramifications of his new theology. He denies the Fall, he denies original sin, he denies human depravity, he denies hell. And that is just in the first few pages. Needless to say, all of this leads him to a radically unbiblical view of the cross and the purpose and work of Jesus. Though he insists that he considers the Bible “inspired” (though certainly not in a traditional sense) he also says that most Christians have read it wrong, having viewed it as a kind of constitution in which God gives Spirit-breathed, inerrant revelation of himself. “I’m recommending we read the Bible as an inspired library. This inspired library preserves, presents, and inspires an ongoing vigorous conversation with and about God, a living and vital civil argument into which we are all invited and through which God is revealed.” After all, “revelation doesn’t simply happen in statements. It happens in conversations and arguments that take place within and among communities of people who share the same essential questions across generations. Revelation accumulates in the relationships, interactions, and interplay between statements.”

What does the Bible accomplish then? What does it teach us about God? “Scripture faithfully reveals the evolution of our ancestors’ best attempts to communicate their successive best understandings of God. As human capacity grows to conceive of a higher and wiser view of God, each new vision is faithfully preserved in Scripture like fossils in layers of sediment.” The Bible is an ongoing conversation about God’s character in which humans come to progressively more accurate understandings of who he is. There is no reason to think that any of them actually had it right. His reinterpretations of Job and Romans are a sight to behold, so muddled and so fabricated that they become absolutely nonsensical. There is a deliberate ignorance at work here.

Challies holds no punches in the following words:

Here, in A New Kind of Christianity it’s as if McLaren is screaming “I hate God!” at the top of his lungs. And swarms of Christians are looking at him with admiration and saying, “See how that guy loves God?” I don’t know what McLaren could do to make the situation more clear. In fact, his book is nearly indistinguishable from many of the de-conversion narratives that are all the rage today. Compare it with Bart Ehrman’s God’s Problem and you’ll see many of the same arguments and the same misgivings; you’ll find, though, that Ehrman is at least more honest. He at least has the integrity to walk away from faith altogether rather than reinventing God in his own image.

McLaren says he would prefer atheism over belief in the God so many of us see in Scripture. Well, he is not far off. This new kind of Extreme Makeover: God Edition Christianity is no Christianity at all. It is not a faith made in the image of Jesus Christ, but a faith made in the image of a man who despises God and who is hell-bent on dragging others along with him as he becomes his own god.

As Winston turned up the light, he saw that prostitute for what she really was. Here McLaren turns up the light and we see what his faith, what his Christianity, really is. We see it in all its toothless, caked-on horror. This new kind of Christianity is simply paganism behind a thick coating of false humility and biblical language. It is an expression of rebellion against God far more than it is a pursuit of new intimacy with the Creator.

And like Orwell’s whore, many will go to this book seeking intimacy with God only to content themselves with rebellion against him. For each is satisfying in its own way.

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