The Gospel of Jesus Christ vs the Gospel of Brian McLaren

Recently, I did a post covering the absurdity of labeling ideas “post” when the idea isn’t really “post” anything. Conveniently enough, today I came across a post by Brian McLaren talking about ‘postcolonial theology.’ True to form, just because he labels theology postcolonial doesn’t mean he’s moved past the colonial idea of conquering and subduing what is viewed as inferior or as a blockade to change, rather, he’s simply change the target of colonialism. Sadly, it’s still a racist theology, but the target of the racism has changed.

McLaren’s antipathy towards orthodox Christianity is summarized when he states,

By distinguishing some theology with a modifier – feminist, black, Latin American, eco-, post-colonial, or indigenous, we are playing into the idea that these theologies are special, different – boutique theologies if you will.

Meanwhile, unmodified theology – theology without adjectives – thus retains its privileged position as normative. Unmodified theology is accepted as Christian theology, or orthodox theology, or important, normal, basic, real, historic theology.

But what if we tried to subvert this deception? What if we started calling standard, unmodified theology chauvinist theology, or white theology, or consumerist or colonial or Greco-Roman theology?

The covert assumption behind the modifier post-colonial thus becomes overt, although it is generally more obliquely and politely stated than this:
Standard, normative, historic, so-called orthodox Christian theology has been a theology of empire, a theology of colonialism, a theology that powerful people used as a tool to achieve and defend land theft, exploitation, domination, superiority, and privilege.

If that doesn’t sound disturbing, I’m not writing well or you’re not reading well.

To any casual student of Church history, this is a highly faulty description of orthodox theology and simply shows the nefarious intentions of Brian McLaren and other emergents in subverting the true Gospel of Christ. Notice how Brian makes a blatantly racist statement; he shows he’s comfortable with black theology, latin theology, feminist theology, et al. But normal theology – the theology he thinks is bad – he labels as “white” theology. In other words, “white” is bad and if you’re white, you have a hell of a lot of conforming to do in order to please God, whereas non-whites are already there since whites have persecuted and colonized non-whites. Continue reading


What are you for?

It seems common among Christians of the evangelical background – whether conservative, liberal, emergent, or whatever – to imply that their opponent is somehow anti-Jesus and that if Jesus were to come back down to earth today (as He did 2,000 years ago) He’d really stick it to the opponent.

The emergent/liberal/whatever group likes to look at conservative Christians and say, “Jesus would overturn your churches man! He’d go into a flying rage and call you all hypocrites!” They point out that the churches that have coffee shops or bookstores open before and after the services would be in deep trouble; Christ would throw the coffee into the faces of the adherents and call them a broad of vipers. Of course, He’d leave there and go to the church down the street called “Hell’s Sanctuary” that met in a bar on Sunday mornings, gulp down a few beers with the people there, take a few drags off His cigarette, and then discuss how enlightening Zizek’s newest book was.

The conservatives immediately point out that Jesus would have condemned the non-conservatives for acting like Pharisees. The Pharisees set certain rules and parameters on what constituted “holy living” and the emergents/liberals have done the same. The conservative would point out that unless you believed a certain way or acted a certain way or went to a certain type of church, the emergent/liberals would have nothing to do with you. In their minds, Christ would walk in and in perfect Koine Greek that would make any seminary professor blush – or for some sects of evangelical Christianity, He’d speak in perfect King James English – condemn the emergent/liberal Christians for their focus on actions and deed while ignoring the importance of creed. After such a condemnation, He would go down to First <insert town/street> Baptist, deliver a moving solo, preach a 45-50 minute exegetical sermon pointing out the intricacies of what a particular Greek word means, and then give an invitation singing all 52 verses to “Just As I Am.”

A lost and dying world looks at both and simply shrugs them off. They shrug off the emergent/liberal Christians because that version of Jesus is a tamer version of any celebrity. That Jesus might be cool and edgy, but so is Russell Brand or Quentin Tarantino. Jesus becomes an enlightened celebrity and His followers become tag-alongs or an annoying fan club. They look to the Jesus offered by the conservative Christians and they see a cold-hearted Jesus who cares about nothing but Himself. While His ethics might be nice, He’s no different than someone who protests outside of an abortion clinic or speaks up against homosexual marriages. Such a Jesus might have the right morals, but He’s just one man out of many. In both cases, Jesus ceases to be Jesus.

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We need an Athanasius; we need a William Wilberforce (Part I)

Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. – Matthew 22:37-38

I’m just getting into John Chrysostom’s Homilies On the Incomprehensible Nature of God (CUA Press). The homilies attempt to explain that we can know nothing of the nature of God, but we can still know God. St. John gave these as a response to the neo-Arians who said that we could know the nature of God.

In order to give some background information, the introduction explains the controversy of Arianism and what it brought about. He talks about how how the adoption of the Nicene Creed was a response to Arianism. Yet he points out:

“…Arianism did not die; in fact it grew for four decades and was still a disturbing factor at the end of the fourth century. Indeed, it might have been reestablished after Nicaea were it not for Athanasius of Alexandria.”

For those who do not know, Athanasius is often referred to as “Athaansius Contra Mundum” (Athanasius against the world). Athanasius was a deacon when he attended Nicaea, but in 326 (the year after Nicaea) when Alexander of Alexandria died, Athanasius took his place as Bishop of Alexandria. During Athanasius’ tenure as Bishop of Alexandria he was banished from the city no less than five times due to his refusal to back down on his beliefs concerning Christ.

Eusebius (not to be confused with the church historian Eusebius of Caesarea), the bishop of Nicomedia, was an open Arian and used his position of influence to have the government of Alexandria consistently harass Athanasius. Much to the chagrin of Eusebius, Athanasius willingly faced the persecution; after all, he was raised during the last great persecution of Christians under the Roman Empire (303-311) and watched many of his family friends and his mentors die in the persecution. What was banishment compared to what he had endured as a child?

Athanasius turned away the favor of man and a position of prominence in order to stand for the truth. As C.S. Lewis says of Athanasius in the introduction to “On the Incarnation” (St. Vladamir’s Press),

“He knew that the very existence of the Church was at stake; but he was utterly certain of the truth and he knew that it must in time prevail.”

Athanasius was faithful to the doctrines of Christianity and to Christ not out of some desire to be right or some attempt to win an argument or exert his power and control over people, but because he was dedicated to the Truth who is Christ. In being dedicated to the Truth, he desired that all men know the Truth as He revealed Himself. The Arians created a Jesus who was different from the Jesus of history and therefore Athanasius, in loving loyalty to Christ, stood his ground and suffered for his holy obstinance. Banishment back then was not a simple thing; being in Egypt, he was banished into the wilderness. He had to leave all that he knew five separate times and depart into the unknown (though the first two times he went to the Desert Father Antony, while the last three times he went to the disciples of Antony). Continue reading

The Exclusive Nature of an Inclusive Faith

One of the oddest events of early American history (while we were still English colonies) was that of Solomon Stoddard. For those who don’t know, Stoddard was a pastor in New England of a Puritan church, the problem is the church was facing decline. The reason is the younger generation just didn’t find Christianity all that interesting (even back then it happened). In order to be relevant and look successful, Stoddard relaxed the rules for church membership, saying that as long as someone said they believed in the most basic tenets of the Christian faith and lived a moral life, they could be considered a member of the church.

Such a relaxation of standards meant that a person did not have to volunteer to help with the church, attend church, etc. One person stood up, Stoddard’s grandson, and said that the church had to require more from church members. The church, not liking Stoddard’s grandson’s views, decided to fire his grandson from the church. That man, Jonathan Edwards, went on to become one of America’s greatest evangelists.

Go back over one thousand years ago from this incident and we see Christians persecuted in ancient Rome. The reason for their persecution isn’t because they’re out engaging multiple faiths and having inter-faith dialogues. In fact, they’re not even being killed for helping the poor (they are ridiculed for such actions, but it is not something the Roman government persecutes them over). Instead, they face persecution because they will not acknowledge Caesar as a god. The Roman Empire – which was a religiously pluralistic empire – didn’t care at all that the Christians viewed Jesus as God. In fact, they didn’t even care that the Christians only believed in one God (the Jews were allowed such a belief). The problem is that the Christians were going into the communities and teaching people that believing in multiple gods was wrong and that there was only one way to Heaven (something the Jews did not do).

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Is it time for a “New Kind of Eschatology”?

Recently, Brian McLaren wrote an article in the Huffington Post titled, “Needed: Christians Thinking Differently About the Future.” In it, he argues that because many evangelicals believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, or some type of end to the world, they have forgotten their current responsibilities. He argues that many evangelicals (and some Roman Catholics) argue that since the world is going to end and Christ will reign forever, does it really  matter how we treat creation, how we treat each other, or anything else? All that should matter under such a view, according to McLaren, is saving souls. McLaren argues that such a view does not benefit the world and, in his words, “If God has predetermined that the world will get worse and worse until it ends in a cosmic megaconflict between the forces of Light …and the forces of Darkness…why waste energy on peacemaking, diplomacy, and interreligious dialogue?”

While this might come as a surprise to some, I do agree somewhat with McLaren on this issue. For those who don’t know, my eschatological stance is best summed as, “Something is going to happen.” While I do have an eschatology that remains stable and absolute (i.e. that there will be a physical resurrection of the dead, there will be a judgment, Christ will reign over the world, there will be a new heaven and a new earth), the question of how this will all come about is a complete mystery to me. Likewise, it’s not all that important either.

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Christianity, Hell, and Islam

For those who don’t follow, I recently had someone leave a comment on my post “Brian McLaren, really?“. I attempted one response that was a bit long and he responded back with a long response as well. Rather than engage in a “comment debate,” I’d rather just post my full reply as a post, since it will be a bit lengthy. I’d encourage you to read the comments before reading this post.

Well after reading that and reading your link, it looks like you are not interested in thinking any differently then you do now.

Well, to be honest, unless given a good reason to change my beliefs on something so central to the worldview I follow, I don’t see why I should be open to changing my views. Though we should always be open to examine our views, this is generally done by looking at rational arguments and evidence against our position. If our position holds strong against such critiques, there shouldn’t be a willingness to abandon it.

Our Christian Bible, many would say, is just as sexist as the Qur’an or Hadith, (maybe not in as blunt of ways). There are scripture in the Bible that talks about Woman not even being able to talk in Church. We can’t say that the Church treats woman fairly even now, I mean there is a reason why 90% of Church leaders are MEN.

If you define “fairness” by responsibilities, then yes, men and women are not treated equally. However, I think your attempt to equivocate the two is quite unfair. For one, both the Qur’an and Hadith teach that women are ontologically lower, that is, they have less rights, less value, etc by nature of being a woman. This is why rape, beatings, and the like are allowed by many Muslims. One simply look to Surra 2:282 to see that men are a “degree above women.” Prior to this, 2:223 says that men are to treat their wife (or wives) as property and do whatever they will with them. The justification is that women are lesser than men by nature. The Hadith is actually worse considering that the writings of Bukhari, chapter two, verse twenty-eight, states that the majority of Hell is composed of ungrateful women. If you look to Ishaq 593, we’re told that women are plentiful and it’s okay to leave the one you have to find another one. All of this shows that women are, by nature, lower than men and to be treated as property, a bit above animals (though Muhammad’s youngest wife A’isha complained that Muhammad was created women to be on the level of dogs and donkeys [Muslim 4:1039]).

The Bible, alternatively, teaches that men and women are ontologically equal. One merely look to the narrative in Genesis to see that men and women are both made in the image of God (“…male and female He created them…”). One can turn to the works of Paul, specifically in Corinthians, and see that he says the wife’s body belongs to the man and the husband’s body belongs to the wife, thus showing it’s equal. If we turn to Galatians, we find Paul telling the husband and wife to submit to one another. Elsewhere he tells husbands to lead with authority as Christ leads the Church, which is completely self-sacrificial. Paul also says that a man who doesn’t provide for his family, but can (and “provide” in the Greek implies both material and immaterial [i.e. emotions, psychological well-being, etc]), is worse than a heathen. Though women were devalued in Jewish culture, in the New Testament we see that Christ has no problem interacting with a sick woman who needs healing, a woman who is on her 7th marriage and considered a whore by the community, a prostitute who washes His feet with perfume, and the first witnesses of the Resurrection in all the Gospels are females.

All of the above indicates that the Bible sees women as ontological equals. Now, for whatever reason, God has declared that on some issues, men and women have different responsibilities, but this does not make them unequal or elevate men above women. Only those who are power-thirsty would see authority as a standard for equality. Authority has nothing to do with equality – some people, male or female, aren’t called to be in a position of authority. Does this mean they are unequal with those who are called to such a position?

So as you can see, I don’t see your argument as compelling.

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