Reply to “Jon” on Brian McLaren and his Bridge to Nowhere

It seems that Jon and Jon want to continue the discussion on my recent post re Brian McLarenTheir comments are here.  So here goes:

I read McLaren as saying we have to adapt to a changed environment. That doesn’t have to mean selling out, but rather that the normative C20th model of doing church isn’t fulfilling the Great Commission in the C21st – so we have to find authentic ways that will…

The message drawn from this doesn’t seem to be that the old verities are false. The message seems to be that the old verities don’t address current problems.

That depends on what “verities” you’re talking about.  If we’re talking about old methods, that’s one thing.  Much of our methodology in the Evangelical world is more 19th Century than 20th Century, it needs change.  If you’re talking about basic Christian beliefs and theology/doctrine, that’s another matter altogether.

I’ve taken exception to some of Brian McLaren’s ideas on the latter.  That’s primarily what has motivated me to be sceptical of any positive impact that he might have on Lambeth (and it needs some positive impact right at the moment.)

Maybe I’m misreading what I see in the world, but it seems to me that the top priority question has shifted from something like “What should we believe?” to something more like “how should we live?”.

How we live and act is derived from what we believe.  The two cannot be divorced, the current aversion to dealing with existential questions notwithstanding.

For example, more and more evangelicals in the US are focusing more on social action than on a more direct declaration of the importance of faith in Christ.

If you really believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, you will do “social action” of some kind, although probably not of the kind that would make the secular left happy.  On the other hand, you can do social action and have no faith in God of any kind.  (Why a philosophical materialist would do this is beyond me, but…)  My thoughts on Christian social action are here.

IMO, one of the strongest moves of social action in Christianity right at the moment is the shift of the centre of the Anglican Communion to the Global (and economically disadvantaged) South.  It’s one thing to engage in paternalistic “social action.”  To hand over (voluntarily or otherwise) control of yourself to people who are not up to your material level is taking things to another level. But it’s the latter that TEC can’t bring itself to do.

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