Monday, January 22, 2007

Feeling Superior

I just ordered A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren and I expect that when I read it I will find that I agree with some of what he says and disagree with other parts. Why would it be otherwise? The only person on earth with whom I agree 100% is me! But since I don't live alone on this planet I need to find ways to get along with others. I know that some of the readers of this blog will be inclined to dismiss McLaren out of hand because he is part of the Emergent Church. Oops, there I go making mistake number one...assuming. So maybe none of you have a problem with the Emergent Church. And maybe if you do, you have something to share of value. No, wait, it's not maybe, it's definitely. Dialogue is the key and it starts in a simple belief; I (and my group) are not superior to anyone else (or anyone else's group).

What's all this have to do with McLaren? It is the topic of a really wonderful blog entry posted here. I'm moved to try even harder to be a better neighbor, how about you?


Hollands Opus said...

I think Brian Maclaren makes some very good points in that blog. When we simply treat people as gospel fodder, it is not much better than viewing pornography (with respect to the way each objectifies a person), though perhaps in some minimal sense better intentioned.

Jesus also taught us who our neighbor is in the parable of the Good Samaritan. He or she is everywhere.

You too Ian, make a very gracious point about the error of being puffed up, i.e. feeling superior. I think that I accurately – emotionally, willfully, and intellectually - comprehend the gospel and the atonement, that Jesus Christ alone can reconcile man to God. That is, I think that prophets, Jesus and the apostles only spoke truth and taught about the way of “salvation” accurately. I think anything that contradicts that is in error and is hurtful to people’s souls. And in spite of myself, I find myself caring about people.

If I ever feel that makes me superior, I have every reason to question my humility – indeed my relationship to Jesus Christ. I also know that the certainty with which I speak lends itself to interpretations of smugness and superiority at times. That error lies within me, not the hearer – for the most part. Sometimes the prophetic voice though is severe, even while loving.

Some Christian philosophers that I hold in very high esteem acknowledge some significant theological problems with Brian Maclaren. And theology surely informs our sense of Christian duty and love. I have not studied him yet. But those same Christian thinkers also are very quick to point out that some of the observations that MacLaren has made about the evangelical are right on. Brian MacLaren surely cares about his neighbor.

I would be interested in your thoughts on the book, Ian. Postmodernism is an epistemological mess in my estimation and the Emergent church has taken a postmodern turn in SOME of its manifestations. But I imagine there is some other good stuff in there.

Twistedevangelical said...

I liked the post as it really connected with the Great Commission. I respect McLaren because he seems to be a genuine bridge builder.

With each day that passes, I see gifts lying on the ground that I once refused to pick up because they were on the wrong side of the street. Lately I've been making my way through traffic to find my brothers and sisters with differing points of view. McLaren to me is one of those voices. And I think his type of thinking makes it possible for Christians to unite on various issues. And to me, that can only lead to more people wanting the love of God right here and now.

cleanhead said...

Ian I know you've got to have something to talk about I'm waiting!