“It tastes like an ashtray,” Margi stated. “Yes,” I replied happily. “But a really good ashtray. With caffeine.” I like my morning coffee to be strong. French Roast. Margi pours a third of a cup and fills the rest with boiling water. The pleasures of married life.
I am tired of Brian McLaren. If you don’t know who he is, don’t worry. If you want to see the Wikipedia article, click here. I have not met Brian personally, and I’m sure he is a wonderful man. I’m equally sure that he would as quickly tire of me, but that’s neither here nor there.
I don’t like the theology he his perpetuating, especially among younger church leaders today. There, I’ve said it. Or actually, what McLaren puts forth is more like an un-theology, or an anti-theology, or even a non-theology. His core book on theology is called A Generous Orthodoxy. The only word in that title that’s on target is “A”. He is not generous at all toward traditional evangelicalism. And he avoids any clear cut statement than any theologian would identify as orthodox.
So, when Brian McLaren turns out to be the keynote speaker at a major conference, that nixes it for me.
Here are four main landmines on today’s theological landscape:
- Who goes and who doesn’t go to heaven. The biblical view as espoused by every major evangelical leader and institution is called particularism. Only those who believe in Jesus by name/identity go to heaven. Departing from this historic view, too many leaders, including (perhaps–it’s hard to pin him down) McLaren and others seem to espouse universalistic exclusivism. This view affirms that all religions lead to God, through Jesus. Even if the practitioners of those religions don’t know about our believe in Jesus. Kiss world missions goodbye.
- Salvation by faith or salvation by works. This is the hallmark distinctive of biblical Christianity. There is an increasing movement to urge people to live the Jesus lifestyle, but without leading them to receive the Jesus LIFE–that mystical life of the indwelling Christ which can only be received by personal faith in and reliance upon the Person who lived in Jerusalem, and died by crucifixion as a substitute for our sins.
- The primacy of the Word of God and preaching OR sacramentalism. In the 70’s I grew up in an era that was trying to do away with preaching. It’s deja vu all over again. There will never be a substitute for the in-depth, theological, expository preaching of the Word of God. When we move over to sacramental systems, such as Orthodox or Catholic style liturgies, we invariably minimize the preached word. The danger of this is a church that has no rational core. No ability to withstand the strongholds of secularism or atheism. Without a core truth, the church perishes. And every generation must deposit that core truth in the minds and hearts of all of God’s people. Can I get an Amen?
- Church vs Jesus. I’m tired of the mantra that people can love Jesus but hate the church. Yes, I get it. Many unchurched, unsaved, unwhatevers, seekers feel that way. I get that. BUT that does not justify fostering that opinion among young Christians. Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, says Paul. How can we love Jesus and hate what he loves? I will build my church, promised Jesus. How can we love Jesus and hate what he is building? If church is doing some hateful things, get involved and fix it. Just make sure the Bible is your blueprint.
That’s enough for now. On each of these issues, and so many more, Brian McLaren comes down on the opposite side, against historic, biblical, evangelical theology. Perhaps D.A. Carson is right on when he writes, “I have to say, as kindly but as forcefully as I can, that to my mind, if words mean anything, both McLaren and [Steve] Chalke have largely abandoned the gospel” (D.A. Carson, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, (2005), p.186).
What do you think? I’m gonna make another pot of coffee.