Brian McL. on Brian McL.

I’m spending the weekend with David Naugle at his Paideia Student Conference at Dallas Baptist University.  It’s 80 degrees here!  Tomorrow I give a lecture and answer questions on Heaven is a Place on Earth.  It is used as a textbook here in some classes, and some of the students think I’m way off base, so Dave invited me to come down and defend myself and the Christian worldview.  On Saturday I give two lectures based on Don’t Stop Believing, and then I return home for the last few weeks of winter. 

I’m not sure if I’ll have time for a new post this weekend, but I just read Brian McLaughlin’s summary of his evening with Brian McLaren, and I thought that readers of this blog would be interested as well.  Brian McL. is appropriately appreciative and critical of the eponymous Brian McL.

Read it here:






17 responses to “Brian McL. on Brian McL.”

  1. Mark,

    Thanks for this. I think this is my only set back in embracing the whole emergent way of ‘doing/understanding’ Christianity. Emergents ask really good questions and they really are spot on in their evaluation of the ‘institutionalized’ church. I agree in their direction on this especially like what I red from the blog link that Brian Mclaren says that the church seems to neglect issues in the world and get caught up with ‘internal issues’ (styles of worship etc).

    I’m not sure how to understand ‘kingdom of God’ the way most emergents understand it. The walls of the exclusivity of the meaning of ‘kingdom of God’ are being torn down too much.

    The other weak spot in Mclaren’s outlook is the question ‘did Jesus really address anything on the world problem issues?’ I don’t think we can answer this with a direct yes, but we can say, that there are implications we can derive from Jesus’ teachings on these things.

    I’m not sure if if i explained this clearly but it just got me thinking in a ‘spur of the moment’ kind of way. Good post and thanks for the link.

  2. I am glad people are listening to Brian McLaren…when I spoke with him he seemed to be a very bright, kind and considerate person…my suggestion is ‘take the best and go’. ‘Appropriately appreciative’ is a nice phrase…employ it often.

  3. “some of the students think I’m way off base, so Dave invited me to come down and defend myself and the Christian worldview. ”

    Off base how? With the understanding that our final destiny is resurrection on a renewed/restored earth as opposed to heaven as popularly understood?
    From the argument of your book and others I have a hard time seeing how one can disagree with that based on anything Biblical…

  4. Yooper

    daryl underwood,

    I have you pegged. Whenever there is a topic with regards to those who undermine the authority of the Word of God, you are certain to be there as a champion for the cause.

  5. Mason asked a good question that I overlooked before! Somehow I was too engrossed in my own comments earlier that I didn’t ask you this question also Mark.

    And Daryl I agree with what you say! Good to employ “appropriately appreciative” as often as possible.

  6. I’ve been very blessed by Brian McLaughlin’s blog and this one is no exception.


  7. mikewittmer


    The idea of that this creation will be restored is still a new idea to many people (as it was to me when I first learned about it in seminary). Unfortunately, Platonism dies hard, and as I mentioned before, it’s our worship leaders’ fault for making us sing so many Platonic songs. 🙂


    While I do agree with and appreciate much of what McLaren says, his continued refusal to speak to what lies at the heart of the gospel undercuts his entire message. If we take our cues from him, we will do lots of good things but we will no longer be Christian. I don’t think the trade is worth it.

  8. Yooper,

    I didn’t get that impression from Daryl’s comment, especially when he state’s “Take the best and go.” I took it as a comment about discernment. Almost along the lines of eating a chicken, you eat the meat (take the best) and spit out the bones (and go).

  9. Mike (How did i ever type in mark!),

    I think you made a great observation in how the idea of a restored creation is still new and many find hard to swallow because of songs we constantly sing. I think that is a great problem…because then we have to rewrite some of the faulty theology we sing/ascribe to in church. I guess worship leaders have to straighten out their theology and not so much on their musical capabilities.

    I think Mclaren still has much to offer in terms of things Christians often neglect (I think my church needs a dose of McLaren). But like you said, he does leave a vital part of the Christian message behind, so that is where I get some frustration reading McLaren.

  10. mikewittmer


    Here is the clincher for me. Could a person learn how to become a genuine follower of Jesus if all they had to go on was what Brian McLaren told them? I don’t think so. And that outweighs but does not eliminate all the good that I find in his writings.

  11. Mike,
    I think it is a clincher indeed. But you got me thinking on here. I have valued my theological upbringing in the reformed perspective especially benefited in my studies in systematic theology (via Millard Erickson & Wayne Grudem). But have leaned to the emerging (I follow Scot McKnight’s explanation that there are distinct thought forms between emerging and emergent) form of thought.

    Now it gives me much food for thought if someone particularly new to Christianity and it’s message, and if their only leaning is the emergent form of Christianity or if we want to name someone, Mclaren, it would have worrying inclinations. Anyway, you just got me thinking.

  12. Yooper


    Brian McLaren is a heretic, and daryl underwood thrives on such controversy.

    McLaren is leading many down a path that leads to eternal destruction. I am writing about discernment. I see many of McLaren’s (et al) books in “christian” bookstores, as if his ideas are “christian” – and they ought not be labeled such. Should it matter what an author believes? Why don’t the bookstores carry books by Mormon, Muslim, Jehovah’s Witness…authors as well?

  13. Daryl Underwood:

    Being “appropriately appreciative” sounds pretty good to me, like a different way of saying “use your discernment;” or like when Paul tells the Philippians to meditate on whatever is true and excellent (4:8).

    So you say “take the best and go;” I think the principle I use in my reading and thinking is pretty similar: “since all truth is God’s truth, discern the truth and go.” Reminds me of how Paul was willing to quote or allude to some bits of pagan poetry to bring home a point (1 Cor. 15:33, Acts 17:28, Acts 26:14, Titus 1:12).

    I’m sure that with some writers though (I reserve judgment on McLaren), their attitudes are more worthwhile than their thoughts. Humility is praiseworthy, and I think Mr. Underwood’s messages have demonstrated that virtue.

  14. mikewittmer

    Adam F.

    All truth is God’s truth, but heresy that leads one to hell comes from the devil. We need discernment to spot the difference, and humble courage to speak up when we see it.

  15. Agreed, Dr. Wittmer. I will read your post several times and make sure I remember it.

    I probably made my subtext too subtle, but I thought Underwood was receiving some undue truculence from another writer here, and wanted to comment on it. That was my second concern–second to responding to the discussion of ‘take the best and go.’

  16. Dr. Wittmer:

    Remember when you said…’It’s not fun being suspected of bad theology, whether that criticism is coming from my conservative or emergent friends, but ultimately as I study the Scriptures I think that my view is right and so I try to humbly explain it to them.’…just a short time ago.

    Don’t you believe that is what Brian Mclaren is doing? We might not resonate with him all the way but (maybe I am reading this wrong) to accuse him of heresy seems a bit harsh to me.

    When GRTS hosted Brian and Rob Bell for a conference a while back I didn’t really pick up on that kind of a stern tone. Did you say these things to Brian when you spent one to one time with him?

    If I read too much into the comment I apologize.

  17. mike


    I don’t think I specifically accused Brian of heresy, but since you brought it up, I do believe that Brian’s message does not contain enough of the gospel to keep someone from going to hell. I don’t think that I am being unloving to Brian for saying this, but rather loving toward those whom he may be leading astray.

    When Brian came to campus in 2005, I asked him direct questions in the hopes that he would explain himself and assure me/us that he was preaching the full gospel. His answers or lack of them disappointed me then, and his views seem to have hardened in the intervening years.

    So yes, I do take a much dimmer view of his views now than I did back then. The same is true for Pagitt and Jones. You can even detect this shift in tone in “Don’t Stop Believing.” The preface is much more optimistic that the emergent leaders will turn back than the epilogue, because even as I was writing the book it became apparent to me that emergent leaders were moving further away from the historic faith (see Pagitt’s book).

    So while I will continue to engage in conversation, I think that it is also time to speak up and say where the line of orthodoxy lies and point out that many of them are crossing it.

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