a Generous Heterodoxy (Or Why My Orthodoxy is Confessionally and Creedally Stingy)

Generous OrthodoxyTo his smorgasborg Christianity, add “heterodox” to Emergent’s Brian McLaren, which includes evolutionism:

My Christian identity is more about joining God in the healing, restoration and development and evolution of the world moving toward a brighter, richer and deeper future. Where as the identity of joining the Christianity apart from an evolutionary understanding is joining the ranks and we’re holding the lines of something that is 2,000 years old.

McLaren praises “Evolutionary Christianity” because it allows for the discussion of Darwin’s evolutionary theory versus orthodox views of creation:

“[I]t enables us to do theological reflection on the theory of evolution and on evolution as a beautiful ark of history and ark of creation. Personally, that has freed me in so many ways. It’s raised my vision of who and what God would be.”

It looks like McLaren’s God is also in the process of evolution. In fact, McLaren is the echo of Marcion, the early church heretic (ca 85-160 A.D.) who juxtaposed the “cruel” Old Testament God against the “loving” New Testament God:

In some passages, God appears violent, retaliatory, given to favoritism, and careless of human life. But over time, the image of God that predominates is gentle rather than cruel, compassionate rather than violent, fair to all rather than biased toward some, forgiving rather than retaliatory. In this more mature view, God is not capricious, bloodthirsty, hateful, or prone to fits of vengeful rage. Rather, God loves justice, kindness, reconciliation, and peace; God’s grace gets the final word.

And just like most other emergents, McLaren is confused and so equivocates on many issues. For example, he says that he is concerned that “inerrancy” and “original sin” are two words that don’t occur in the Bible, and may only be part of “philosophical assumptions.” Perhaps, the doctrine of the Trinity may also be just a part of “philosophical assumptions” because “Trinity” is nowhere to be found in Scripture. He says this about the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy:

The word inerrancy never occurs in Scripture and my concern with inerrancy is that it brings into our discussion about the Bible a set of philosophical assumptions that aren’t really necessary and actually can be unhelpful and counterproductive. So I’m not in any way questioning the authority of Scripture but the question I’m asking in the book is how do we understand authority, what are the assumptions we bring to the question of authority before we even begin to talk about the Bible.

What about original sin? He says Christians shouldn’t be so dogmatic since the word and the idea is not found in the Bible, and the doctrine is only a “set of mental constructs and assumptions”:

I don’t object to people using that term. But what I want us to do is really scrutinize that term and ask is it really in the Bible, is it the only permissible way for us to think about sin, and is it the only permissible way to frame our reading of the Bible? If people want to read the Bible in those terms, I’m not really trying to stop them… But there are other people for whom the way that we have framed the issue of original sin has become a real obstacle… We might need to ask the question in the 21st century, in order to be a Christian do you have to not only use the word original sin but do you have to hold the set of mental constructs and assumptions that go along with that word original sin?

He even doubts that a loving God actually condemns mankind because of Adam’s sin, that sin is not a legal problem, and that original sin is not in the text, but only part of tradition:

What I suggest in the book that goes along with this idea of original sin is the idea that God no longer loves humanity. The idea that humanity has become detestable to God and that it’s only the people who become Christians that God can truly love, that their being loved by God through just being God’s creatures is somehow destroyed by original sin. Along with the idea of original sin is the idea that the problem of sin is primarily a legal problem. In other words, the primary category of sin is a category of guilt and condemnation… And unfortunately sometimes when we frame our story around this idea of original sin – again, a term that never appears in the Bible, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong but we just need to make a distinction in my mind between the things that are in our authoritative text and the things that are part of the Christian tradition.

Concerning the doctrine of hell, McLaren says that it’s inconsistent with the Bible’s image of God and Christ:

A lot of us say, when we read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and really when we read most of the Bible, the image of God that we see does not seem like an eternal torturer. So many of us Christians are asking the question and we’re not asking because we don’t want to believe. We’re asking because we get a vision of God in Jesus Christ that just doesn’t seem to match with that.

With all of these “generous heterodoxy,” Kevin DeYoung argues that McLaren’s and other emergents’ smorgasbord Christianity of “couches, candles, and coffee” is nothing else than “old fashioned liberalism… dressed up for the 21st century.” More than that, his “generous heterodoxy” is in reality, “super-generous heresy.”

As for my orthodoxy, I would rather stay inflexibly stingy, subscribing only to the historic creeds of the early church—Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed, and Chalcedonian Creed—and confessions of the 16th century Protestant Reformation—Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dort, and the Westminster Confession and Catechisms.

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admin says:

From the creative human mind, “a factory of idols.”

Jamie says:

Even the cover page doesn’t make any sense at all. I wonder where he got all of those stuff.