…having a form of godliness but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:5)

McLaren As Mentor For The Emerging Church

From years now of monitoring the neo-liberal cult of the sinfully ecumenical Emerging Church de-formation of the Christian faith aka Emergent Church—that’s now morphed into Emergence Christianity (EC)—Apprising Ministries can tell you that A New Kind of Christian (2001) by EC guru Brian McLaren is a seminal book. For example, in Mysticism’s Gospel Of Goodness And Shane Claiborne I showed you it’s under Recommended Books “On Ecclesiology (theology of Church)” for The Simple Way (TSW).

If you didn’t know TSW is the “community of faith” of EC icon Shane Claiborne, one of the Red Letter Christians alongside the likes of his mentor Tony Campolo, Roman Catholic mystic Richard Rohr, and Brian McLaren; by the way, both McLaren and Rohr now happen to be Living Spiritual Teachers alongside such as Deepak Chopra, the Dalai LamaThich Nhat Hanh, Eckhart Tolle, and Marianne Williamson. Guilt by association you say; um, yeah. Any chance you’d find…say…an Al Mohler listed there?

Now as it concerns McLaren’s highly influential 2001 book A New Kind of Christian; we note that it was published as one of the “Leadership Network Ttiles” by Jossey-Bass, which makes it part of what Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough is discussing in his The Druckerites Must Issue a Safety Recall For Their “Emerging Church” Product Line. Since this isn’t the focus of this article I will refer the interested reader there; for now, it’s also interesting to note that Christianity Today (CT) magazine even gave this book by McLaren an Award of Merit.

You may recall that McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian had a powerful effect on the then up-and coming Elvis of the Emerging Church Rob Bell. In the 2004 CT article The Emergent Mystique, which is linked here from McLaren’s website, we told that after launching Mars Hill Bible Church (MHBC) Rob and his wife Kristen:

started questioning their assumptions about the Bible itself—”discovering the Bible as a human product,” as Rob puts it, rather than the product of divine fiat. “The Bible is still in the center for us,” Rob says, “but it’s a different kind of center. We want to embrace mystery, rather than conquer it.”…

“I grew up thinking that we’ve figured out the Bible,” Kristen says, “that we knew what it means. Now I have no idea what most of it means. And yet I feel like life is big again—like life used to be black and white, and now it’s in color.” And how did the Bells find their way out of the black-and-white world where they had been so successful and so dissatisfied?

“Our lifeboat,” Kristen says, “was A New Kind of Christian.” (Online source)

Even today under Group Resources at MHBC, should one lack ideas for “finding tools and materials” to use in their small groups, why MHBC has “lots of resources and recommendations” for “leading enriched studies and discussions.” And one of these “recommendations” under Books With Questions/Study Companion just happens to be A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren. Let me refresh your memory as to what McLaren teaches via his use of characters which,  as it turns out, prove not to be so fictional after-all.

The following comes from A New Kind of Christian by Brian D. McLaren, a review by Dr. Gary Gilley:

McLaren will not accept for a moment the possibility that conservative evangelicalism, which is surely laced with modernistic tendencies, might possibly be resting on the foundation of infallible, unchanging Scripture. No, McLaren is willing to throw the baby (biblical Christianity) out with the wash (modern influences) and start all over with a new kind of faith, one which he admits does not yet exist.

More specifically, McLaren rejects absolute truth, authority, theology, objectivity, certainty and clarity. He embraces relativism, inclusivism, deconstructionism, stories (to replace truth), creative interpretation of Scripture, neo-orthodoxy, and tolerance. Possibly the motto of postmodern Christianity is found on page 61: “The challenge today is not whether you are right but whether you are good.” (Online source)

Denying The Faith Once For All Delivered Now Brings An Award Of Merit

Very nice; and now the below from Mark Dever of 9 Marks, which is a respected solidly mainstream evangelical ministry. In his A Review of Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian Dr. Dever points out that McLaren, through the character “Neo suggests that the distinction between liberal and evangelical is about to become “inconsequential.” But as Dr. Dever then goes on to say:

I can hardly think of a more consequential distinction, if we’re to have any ground to be authentically self-critical, than to have a reliable word from our Creator. Or to suggest (as he does on pp. 48-49, 83) that liberalism and conservatism are really two parts of a whole, would dismiss all the proponents on either side of the issues in dispute. The “they both have a point” conclusion is, at best, misleading, at worst, condescending and dangerously naïve. In this, he seems to appear charitable, even while unintentionally abandoning crucial points…

McLaren suggests that the world’s religions act as tutors, similar to the Old Testament law, keeping people until the Christian gospel arrives. But this is to ignore the role that special revelation has, and also wrongly suggests a broad moral consensus, which everything from Buddhist atheism to the Hindu practice of burning widow’s with their deceased husbands belies…

The call for respecting the various ways that different cultures would approach God seems to ignore the quite exclusive practices that God dictated to Israel in the Pentatuch, Gentile converts in the New Testament epistles, and to ignore the long Christian tradition (pre-dating the modern period) of wanting to be careful to approach God only in those ways in which He himself had told us to approach Him…

McLaren suggests that what Jesus was really about was a holistic reconciliation of God with the whole created order. But if that assertion serves to de-center the cross and the preaching of the gospel, then we would be immeasurably impoverished by following it. His repeated emphasis on the implications of the gospel seem to obscure what precisely is the good news. He fails to combine the better parts of liberalism and evangelicalism.

Rather, I fear that this book ends up defending the positions of Shailer Mathews, Walter Rauschenbusch and Harry Emerson Fosdick, even if more in the language of H. Richard Niebuhr’s Christ transforming culture, or N. T. Wright’s presentation of a this-worldly, de-apocalypsed gospel. (Online source)

This is what Leadership Network published, and even today still tells us, The book’s attention-grabbing format is an effective mode of presenting McLaren’s ideas; this is what CT gave an Award of Merit, and this is what Rob Bell, along with his co-teaching pastor Shane Hipps, are still using right now at MHBC. And as you’ll see from Christianity and McLarenism, which is a review of McLaren’s latest book A New Kind of Christianity by Kevin DeYoung, even now McLaren’s message remains the same:

The message of McLarenism is pretty simple: God is love and wants everyone to be kind and inclusive and care for the poor and the environment… In McLarenism there is no original sin, no wrath, no hell, no creation-fall-redemption, no definite future, no second coming that I can see, no clear statement on the deity of Christ, no mention of vicarious substitution or God’s holiness or divine sovereignty, no ethical demands except as they relate to being kind to others, no God-offendedness, no doctrine of justification, no unchanging apostolic deposit of truth, no absolute submission to the word of God, nary a mention of faith and worship, no doctrine of regeneration, no evangelistic impulse to save the lost, and nothing about God’s passion for his glory.

This is surely a lot to leave out. McLaren’s Christianity is not new and certainly not improved. I don’t believe you can even call it Christianity. It is liberalism dressed up for the 21st century. (Online source)

So if one is tempted to think that over past few years Brian McLaren has drifted in a neo-liberalism i.e. a reimagined Progessive Christianity A New Lind of Christian, his most influential book within the Emerging Church, clearly shows you that McLaren’s really been there all along. Sadly, it looks to me like milquetoast evangelical leaders simply didn’t, and probably even now still don’t, want to see McLaren’s apostate message. For that would require taking an actual stand for what the late Dr. Walter Martin, one of their better known apologists, would so often call “the historic, orthodox, Christian faith.”

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