Another wise, courageous word from a primary mentor of mine…

In the video I’ve linked to below, Brian McLaren is interviewed by Scot McKnight.  Both are vital voices in the church today helping the church shake off all kinds of excess baggage we’ve carried for many many years.  Both come down at very different places theologically, depending on the issue.  The video itself is provocatively named (I would say sensationally named) “Conversations on Being a Heretic.”  I absolutely HATE that title, because the whole “heretic” thing has been used by religious border patrols and by ridiculous individuals who think they’ve found some “secret” about spirituality alike throughout history.  Brian McLaren is asking important, essential questions about the message and lifestyle of Christianity from within the constraints of a deep respect for Scriptural authority and for Jesus….and the reward he gets for such searching is vitriol from heresy-hunters and outsiders who think he’s like them.

Brian McLaren is the single most important voice short of Jesus who has opened up space for me to breathe when I’ve felt something was horrendously wrong, when faith felt like a giant weight squeezing the life out of me.  He has led me in my spiritual quest not away from the Scriptures, but deeper into the Scriptures. He has led me not into the arms of any religious guru “because they’re all saying essentially the same thing,” but into a deeper trust in the words, example, and authority of Jesus in a way that has given me conviction beyond anything I’ve ever experienced before.  And yet Brian seems to be assailed from all sides in exploring his curiosity.  This video, in 19 short minutes, is Brian laying out in concise, straight-forward ways what he places his hope in, what structure he works within, and what he believes God’s agenda is all about.  And it. remains. beautiful.

Q | Conversations on Being a Heretic from Q Ideas on Vimeo.

Here’s some vital quotes from the video from Brian:

“I don’t think the primary question being asked by the Bible is the question, “Who goes to heaven, and who goes to hell?”  I think the primary question being asked is, “How can God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven?”  I think the primary question is “How can this creation that has been damaged by human sin, injustice, evil, lust, greed, the whole shebang, how can this creation be healed and how can we participate with God in the healing of this creation?”

“You just used the word salvation.  And for so many people, as soon as they hear the word salvation, they have a whole set of definitions in their mind.  I was a preacher for 24 years.  I really read the Bible, I still do!  And what I was always troubled by, was when I read the word “salvation” in the Bible, I would import a set of assumptions about what that word meant, and they didn’t fit what I saw in the text.  So when I read the text, the word salvation starts in the Old Testament, and it means liberation.  Salvation is what God does for the Jewish people getting them out of slavery. It’s not about getting them out of hell in the Old Testament, it’s about getting them out of Egypt.  So I’m trying to be hon est about those things.”


3 thoughts on “Another wise, courageous word from a primary mentor of mine…

  1. I thought that was very meaningful, I just don’t know if that conversation “helped” him, or “hurt” him in the eyes of people who don’t get what he is talking about?

    I feel like totally scrapping words like “social gospel” and “liberation theology” to appease people who are uncomfortable with terms like that is not a healthy option…but on the same hand, I don’t know that it is a wise decision to use terms like that while trying to clear up some of the misconceptions that people have about you…

    But alas, you know all too well some of my issues with good ol’ B-Mac! 🙂 I just think that word choice is really key when you are trying to discuss things with people who may be a bit ridged in their belief systems.

  2. Bethany,

    Well, at the very least, he’s clear about his driving motivations, which are not to gut historical Christianity and go a completely different direction, but instead out of the wisdom of the Scriptures, to find our way again as the church.

    You’re right that many will shut down at hearing the terms he used. We certainly both feel like that’s a result of shallow teaching on others’ behalf, and not because “liberation theology” is inherently destructive…I just think Brian is one of the most refreshingly honest, transparent leaders I’ve encountered, so he’s not afraid of the labels people slap on him when he mentions that he’s been impacted by “social gospel” folks. He’s very Jesus-like in going beyond the social-control Christianity that teaches people to say people are “in” or “out” by their responses to certain phrases or words.


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