Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, Question 6

What do we do about the church?

After examining Brian’s unchristian biases in his first 5 theological questions, I am reconsidering my commitment to working through each of his 5 practical questions (but I will keep slogging away, as it’s almost Lent). If Brian’s theological commitments place him outside the bounds of Christian orthodoxy, why should we care what he thinks we should do about the church?  To paraphrase Tertullian in his Prescription of Heretics, “It’s not your church!”

Here are Tertullian’s words against the Gnostic heretics, which seem relevant today:  “Thus, not being Christians, they have acquired no right to the Christian Scriptures; and it may be very fairly said to them, ‘Who are you?  When and whence do you come?  As you are none of mine, what are you doing on my property?  Indeed, Marcion, by what right do you hew my wood?  By whose permission, Valentinus, are you diverting my streams?  By what power, Apelles, are you removing my landmarks?  This is my property.  Why are you, the rest, sowing and pasturing here at your pleasure?  This is my property.  I have long possessed it; I possessed it before you.  I hold sure title-deeds from the original owners themselves, to whom the estate belonged.  I am the heir of the apostles.”

With that understanding, I didn’t find a lot to disagree with in this chapter, probably because Brian wrote at a high level of abstraction.  He tells us that “the one grand calling” of the church is to be “a space in which the Spirit works to form Christlike people, and it is the space in which human beings, formed in Christlike love, cooperate with the Spirit and one another to express that love in word and deed….”  He encourages us to sacrifice everything to become “Christlike people, people who live in the way of love, the way of peacemaking, the way of the kingdom of God, the way of Jesus, the way of the Spirit.”

Brian’s instructions are like listening to a U.S. president encouraging us to “make America strong!”  Who would disagree with that?  But of course the devil is in the details.  Just as Democrats and Republicans disagree on how to lead an American recovery, so Brian’s answers to his first five theological questions lead me to conclude that his way of living like Jesus is not what I or the Bible mean.  Specifically, Scripture teaches that we can’t follow the way of Jesus without believing in him first.

When Brian asks “what one great danger do people need to be saved from?” he answers that they need to be saved “from the great danger of wasting their lives, becoming something less than and other than they were intended to be, gaining the world but losing their souls.”  Brian then suggests that we “rethink our core mission” of the church around this great danger.

Brian’s answer here is profoundly inadequate.  Neither I nor John Piper (Don’t Waste Your Life) are in favor of wasting anything, but we would say with every orthodox Christian that our greatest danger is to remain in our sin and go to hell, which of course, would be the greatest waste of our lives.

Here’s the point:  Brian’s shallow evaluation of our problem (no Fall, original sin, total depravity, or hell) produces a shallow understanding of salvation (love as much as you can and let God’s judgment burn your bad stuff away) which produces a shallow view of the church (it exists merely to stop people from wasting their lives).

But we already have that job covered.  Several institutions already exist to stop people from wasting their lives.  Colleges prepare people for life, the Army challenges them to “Be all they can be,” and the Peace Corps provides an outlet to serve others.  So given Brian’s description of the church’s mission, why do we even need it?  Hasn’t his quest to make the church relevant merely succeeded in making it redundant?



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71 responses to “Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, Question 6”

  1. […] *Question 6: What Do We Do about the Church? […]

  2. rey

    If the epistles of Paul were more Tertullian’s property than that of Marcion and Valentinus, then why does he not understand that the ceremonial law was given by the principalities and powers and not by God as Paul says in Colossians 2:14-16 and that Jesus on the cross destroyed their “certificate of debt” whereby they held us in bondage? And that we need not keep the new moons and sabbaths because we are freed from the principalities and powers who gave those ceremonial precepts, and the p and ps are our enemies against whom we have a spiritual warfare per Ephesians 6:12? Tertullian is ignorant of all this, for Marcion and Valentinus have a greater claim on this property than he does.

  3. this cracked me up!

    “I will keep slogging away, as it’s almost Lent”


  4. Jeff Straka

    Mike says, “Specifically, Scripture teaches that we can’t follow the way of Jesus without believing in him first.”

    The Bible says:
    “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

    I was hungry and you fed me,
    I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
    I was homeless and you gave me a room,
    I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
    I was sick and you stopped to visit,
    I was in prison and you came to me.’

    “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

  5. Gotta love proof-texting…

  6. […] at the top of his lungs” and then going into scary 1984 allusions, Dr Mike Wittmer finally comes clean in opining the Brian isn’t even a Christian (something sounding more and more like a […]

  7. David

    That’s true Jeff! Unfortunately, you cannot take one piece of the Bible and use it to prove one narrow point without having to address all of the other things that Jesus said. And here, I mainly refer to John 6:28-29:

    “Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

    So while you are correct (that when we feed the hungry, clothe the poor, visit the sick, etc. we are serving Christ Himself), you are incorrect for implying that we do not need to believe in Him first.

    Furthermore, it is dishonest for you to try and use Matthew 25 as the standalone formula for “following Jesus”. At this point I would direct you to Matthew 7:20-23 where Jesus tells us that although we will be known by our fruits, not all who cry out “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Even those who did a great many works in “Jesus” name).

    Lastly, and probably most importantly, the NT is abundantly clear that saving faith in Christ does not come from works, and it is addressed very clearly (in Eph 2:8,9 & John 3:16 for starters). Please continue reading into the latter NT books to find the Works/Faith relationship described in James 2:14 and 2:18 as completely complimentary.

    Did you really think your dishonest hermeneutics would pass muster here?

  8. Jeff Straka

    Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, FOLLOW ME.”

    As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, FOLLOW ME,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

    When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”But Jesus told him, “FOLLOW ME, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

    As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “FOLLOW ME,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

    Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and FOLLOW ME…”

    My point is there ARE places where it appears Jesus is NOT requiring belief FIRST and THEN follow. I makes sense to me that IN THE FOLLOWING of his ways, ones heart can be transformed, and one can begin to trust (have faith, believe in) The Christ.

  9. Jeff Straka

    BTW, I find it an unscrupulous tactic for Mr. Wittmer to essentially call Brian Mclaren unchristian and a heretic WITHOUT giving him the opportunity to clarify the points leading to that erroneous conclusion. While Mr. Wittmer is free to THINK that for himself, to post that “conclusion-in-the-making” as a professor of theology (with an apparent “fan club” following) BEFORE thoroughly investigating its validity by a dialogue with Mr. McLaren is about as low as a person can get. THIS is how Christians love one another?

  10. Jeff, read McLaren’s books. He’s been given years to clarify himself, and it’s now pretty easy to draw the conclusion that McLaren represents Satan, not God. Until he repents, he should not be given any further voice in the Church. Thankfully, this is pretty much the case already, fewer and fewer Reformed evangelical churches are inviting him to speak.

  11. David

    You are following a similar course of logic as many others in the Emergent/Emerging church.

    All of McLaren’s statements have been made in the public realm. The Matthew 18 principle of taking your brother aside in private to rebuke him for his sins addresses the issue of handling a sin that is “one against another”. In McLaren’s instance, he is publicly trying to sway the flock with a teaching. This is not a matter of personal sin, this is a matter of McLaren’s public statements being interpreted through the biblical doctrines in order to protect the flock.

    Furthermore, your statement would imply that we would have to have one-on-one discussions with every person that publicly preached false doctrine before notifying the flock.

    Not true.

  12. Yooper

    Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

  13. Jeff Straka

    I don’t think Jesus really trusted that Peter would build that whippy of a church anyway since all Peter could promise Jesus was philia love and not agape love. We shouldn’t be shocked at where the church has gone…you all can have it…

  14. As if Peter and Paul ever did it on their own strength…

    “you all can have it”

    Does that mean you’re finally giving up trying to pervert the Church and are going on your merry way? Praise the Lord!!

  15. I’ll take the Bride of Christ anyday! I’m not really seeing it, but Jesus thinks she’s hot, so that’s good enough for me!

    Reminds me of 1 John 3:14 “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.”

    Or even 1 John 4:20 “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

    As imperfect as she is, the apostle John is crystal clear that one of the “marks” that one is a true believer is a love for Christ’s church. I guess if he was willing to die for her—and has promised to return for her—then I can put up with some of her faults.

  16. David,

    You make a great point. It seems as if the Emergents (at least the left-leaning, orthodoxy-denying ones) are saying the following:

    1. We can say the historic church is wrong, and that proves we are tolerate, open-minded, and cool.

    2. You cannot say we are wrong, that proves you are hateful, close-minded, and uncool.

    What? Eh?

    Isn’t the whole point of Brian’s book that traditional Christianity has blantantly abandoned Jesus and followed after Plato? How then can they cry foul when we say it is he who is abandoning Jesus? Isn’t it actually the exact same accusation reversed?

    Reminds me of my two youngest kids. One calls the other a “meany”, the other says it back, and the first one says “I’m telling Mom”.

  17. Jeff Straka

    Oh, I didn’t say I was leaving the “Big C” Church, the Body, the Dance of the Trinity that The Christ invited me into.

    I’m just done with the institutional “club” church with all the rigid, asinine membership rules.

    “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member” — Groucho Marx 😉

  18. Natalia

    Well, according to the church I grew up in (Russian Orthodox Christianity), it didn’t belong to Tertullian, either. 😉

    Is the vitriol coming from a Reformed sensibility/study? I ask, because as an Eastern-Rite Catholic, I’m not as freaked out by what Mr. McLaren has written.

  19. rey

    We need to get back to the Christus Victor view of the cross and jettison the penal substitution view that makes the Father into a crazed bloodthirsty loon who can only be appeased by the brutal murder of his own son. The sooner that ‘Christendom’ as a whole returns to viewing the cross as a great cosmic trap set by God for the principalities and powers (who would not have crucified the Lord of Glory had they known it was him) the sooner loony views overcompensating against the insanity of penal substitution will disappear. But instead of taking the logical step, the fundies will double down on their penal substitution view and proclaim the Father to be all the more schitzophrenic than they ever have before and will proclaim the Trinity to be all the more divided Father against Son and Son against Father than they ever have before. They never learn.

  20. Mike, I’ve been following your review with interest, figuring I’d probably want to read the book at some point… but now, having read this post, I’m pretty sure I’ll HAVE to read it.

    And I think I’ll need a support group to get me through it.

  21. Yooper

    I wouldn’t want to waste my money, nor contribute to the furtherance of this ideology.

  22. Jeff Straka

    Yeah (or should I say yah), Yooper – you certainly don’t want to have an open mind or anything. You just want to believe Mike’s interpretation as the only one.

  23. Jeff Straka

    “I am able to be in error, but I cannot be a heretic, for the first belongs to the intellect, the second to the will.” –Meister Eckhart

  24. David

    What about people who fall into error without knowing about it. They have not willed to be in error (say, for instance, in believing that Jesus is just one of many paths to Salvation), but they are still in error and are very truly espousing heresy (though they do not will they should be there).

    I sense that his is a commentary more on the word “heretic” than on the actual person committing so-called heresy. Either way, using that quote allows you to defend people who spout off lies that mislead people from the Truth of Christ, and avoid labeling them as a danger to the church because they don’t THINK they are a danger to the church (i.e. “Of COURSE I’m not a heretic, I love God and I am a Christian!…Now listen here to this new idea I have about Christianity which changes the entire religion, it’s belief systems and everything else”).

    Eckhart may have had some good things to say, but that quote is not one of them.

  25. Exactly David. What people seem to forget (usually those who hold to heterdox views) is that most of the heretics throughout Church history have been genuine in their beliefs and thought they were doing the will of God. It doesn’t really matter how “loving” or genuine and honest McLaren is… what matters is if he speaks the truth. And clearly, he does not.

  26. Jeff Straka

    Eckhart was considered a heretic by Pope John XXII.

    “The knower and the known are one. Simple people imagine that they should see God as if he stood there and they here. This is not so. God and I, we are one in knowledge.” –Meister Eckhart

  27. David

    Seems like you prefer the sayings of men over the sayings of God.

    That particular quote from Eckhart seems to counter everything that God says about our relationship with Him. Instead of reading so much about the church “fathers”, perhaps you should open up your Bible Jeff. The picture painted is that God does stand in Heaven (there) in eternal glory and I stand on earth (here) in a sinful state.

    “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2

    Luckily, the story doesn’t end there. God shows us that He is ever loving and merciful and reaches down to have a relationship with us despite our enormous difference in standing. God is indeed “there” and I am indeed “here”. That is what makes the Cross so profound and why I love Christ so much. Bridging the gap between God’s “there-ness” and my “here-ness” is exactly the point of the Gospel.

    As for being “one” in knowledge with God, that sounds like some new-agey type wish-wash.

    “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:25

    Please note: I say “go and pick up your Bible” not out of condescension, but out of frustration that you prefer to listen to the “wisdom” of men speculating about God’s Truth, rather than going straight to the source of all knowledge, and deal with what God says about Himself directly.


  28. Jeff Straka

    “The picture painted is that God does stand in Heaven (there) in eternal glory and I stand on earth (here) in a sinful state. ”

    So, you don’t believe in the “Christ in you”?

  29. I won’t answer for David, but the Bible says Christ is only in a person if that person believes in Him as his Lord and Savior.

  30. Jeff Straka

    And if all you need is what God “directly said” in the Bible (seems to me that it was written by men, but whatever), then what are you doing HERE on this blog? Why would you need any more “enlightenment” from Mike if the Bible covers it all?

  31. Jeff Straka

    So when God breathed his Spirit into man in Genesis, he sucked it back out after the fall? Show me that.

  32. Jeff,

    God wrote the Bible through men. He breathed it into existence. Jesus seemed to think that the Scriptures were reliable, why don’t you?

    As for the rest of your comment… REALLY?!? This is so absurd that I find it difficult to know where to start.

  33. “So when God breathed his Spirit into man in Genesis, he sucked it back out after the fall? Show me that.”

    Have you even read the Bible? Show me first where it says He breathed His Spirit into man.

  34. Jeff Straka

    Ah, but Jesus reinterpreted the Torah, didn’t he? “You’ve heard it said…But I say…” So if the Torah was word-for-word what God “wrote” and intended, why did Jesus need to redefine it?

    Interesting that you wouldn’t respond to the part about a supposed revocation of the Spirit after the “Fall”.

  35. David

    “The picture painted is that God does stand in Heaven (there) in eternal glory and I stand on earth (here) in a sinful state. ”

    So, you don’t believe in the “Christ in you”?

    Jeff – 4th paragraph of my last post.

    “Luckily, the story doesn’t end there. God shows us that He is ever loving and merciful and reaches down to have a relationship with us despite our enormous difference in standing. God is indeed “there” and I am indeed “here”. That is what makes the Cross so profound and why I love Christ so much. Bridging the gap between God’s “there-ness” and my “here-ness” is exactly the point of the Gospel.”

    That would be “Christ in me, the hope of Glory”.

    Lastly, I have not come here for enlightenment. My visit to this particular blog is narrowly focused to learning about Brian McLaren. He is a figure I have read much about, but have not done a thorough analysis of (for a lack of time and wherewithal). I won’t purchase his book because I do not want to directly (or indirectly for that matter) support a man who is feeding lies to the world. But I would like to know what leading reformed theologists see in Him. Mike’s commentary has been a good service to me.

  36. Jeff Straka

    God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive—a living soul! (Gen 2:7)

  37. I did respond… show me where God breathed His Spirit into man. Genesis says He breathed LIFE into man. Get it right.

    “Why did Jesus need to redefine it?”

    Well, first of all, this is pretty basic Christianity. There are probably a few thousand books which could answer this easily, but I would start with the Bible, which apparently you haven’t read beyond the book of Matthew. Look for the parts where Paul explains why the Mosaic Law was given, for example. As for why Jesus “redefined” the law, He was merely getting at the heart of it (no pun intended). Outward performance means nothing if your heart is full of hate and lust. You could technically follow most of the Ten Commandments outwardly and still be a vile person on the inside.

  38. Jeff Straka

    You know, you could always get a copy FREE from the library. I just find it sad that you are dependent on some one ELSE’S view of the book instead of discerning for yourself. But I guess that will give you the “narrow” view you desire…

  39. “God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive—a living soul! (Gen 2:7)”

    Okay, so even if through tortured logic you say that this life was God’s Spirit (as in the Holy Spirit) living in man, then you have to ignore what Jesus said about coming into the hearts of those who answer his knock… implying that there are plenty who don’t answer the knock, just like there are many who don’t walk the narrow way.

  40. Jeff Straka

    I have read the Bible cover to cover 4 years in a row in different translations, so quit your judging.

    Yes, Jesus was getting to the HEART of it because the “church” of his day was getting it WRONG! The “church leaders” thought that God told them to STONE the LIFE out of a woman caught in adultery, and Jesus said “WRONG!”

    (nothing new under the sun)

  41. “You know, you could always get a copy FREE from the library. I just find it sad that you are dependent on some one ELSE’S view of the book instead of discerning for yourself. But I guess that will give you the “narrow” view you desire…

    What are you talking about? Go read the Bible for yourself, it’s all there.

    “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.”

    Guess who said that? It’s right after the Beatitudes.

  42. Nevermind, you were talking to David. 🙂

  43. See, there is your problem. The “church” of Jesus’ day did not have the Spirit of God in it, it was dead and prepared for wrath. The Church today, Christ’s bride, is alive and being prepared for glory!

  44. “I have read the Bible cover to cover 4 years in a row in different translations, so quit your judging.”

    And yet you have no understood a single thing you’re read, which is terribly tragic. (Matt. 13:15)

  45. Oops, “no” should be “not”

  46. Jeff Straka

    Oh, God/Spirit was there in the “church” of Jesus’ day, but they were blind to it:

    Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’

    You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?

    You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?

    You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

    Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

    He also told them this parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?

  47. Jeff Straka

    Darius, you are such a pompous ass.

  48. Then why did God say that when Christ came, He would put a new heart and spirit in those who followed Him?

    “Darius, you are such a pompous ass.”

    Yes, I am. Praise the Lord that despite that and much worse sins, He still died to set me free from this body of death! And if you’ll just let Him, He’ll take away your sin as well.

  49. Jeff Straka

    In my evening prayers (I use the Divine Hours), I ask forgiveness as I forgive others.

    My brother, we will just need to agree to disagree on our theology. 🙂

  50. David

    I guess you’re right! I probably should read McLaren’s book in order to be “fair” about my assessment.

    But the truth is, I don’t want to read his book. I’ve already done my analysis of this man, and I know from all of my primary and secondary research that he is a liar, and one who twists truth.

    So while I said I did not want to purchase his book because I do not want to directly or indirectly support him, I should have also added that I do not want to read his lies. They make me literally sick. It’s the same feeling I get when I watch two seconds of John Crowder blaspheming God as he speaks gibberish, acts “drunk on the spirit” and talks about “toking the Holy Ghost”. It’s the same feeling I get when I hear John Shelby Spong talk about how the Biblical narrative was never meant to be taken literally, and how the Gospel writers knowingly included falsehoods into their stories in order to play into those ancient motifs. I have to shut those programs off, because I literally cannot listen to them. It is detestable and makes me sick.

    Bottom line: When people twist and blaspheme Scripture, I don’t want to hear them, watch them do it. It makes me ill. Literally.

    That doesn’t mean I can’t learn about it and be aware of their lies. That leads into my explanation for how I actually learned about McLaren. Was it fair, you ask?

    I’ve learned about McLaren through a great many sources. Mostly, he’s popped up on the radar of many discernment ministries, which brought his name to my attention. (At that point, I tried my best to give him the benefit of the doubt, because some of those discernment ministries can get a little trigger happy). From there, I was pointed to the parts of his books, his interviews, and other publicly available works which accurately illustrated and exposed the heart of his counter-Biblical teachings. I didn’t have to read the entirety of his works to figure out that he’s a liar. If I can find the same heretical thought processes from a number of different sources, I can be pretty sure that the guy is liar. “If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…”

    After reading enough of his works, I discerned that he is, indeed, a liar. Then at that point, I came to people like Mike Wittmer have the time and wherewithal to carefully scrutinize his work. This allows me to get a deeper understanding of the heresy and lies, and reflect in further detail.

    All of that to say, I don’t want to read the gibberish made up by a man who doesn’t want to deal with the reality of God’s truth, and who prefers to create something “new”, “refreshing”, and “open-minded”.

  51. Jeff Straka

    I can understand that. In the same way, I will not purchase or read a book by John MacArthur or Mark Driscoll or Al Mohler or D.A. Carson – I know enough of their theology to know it’s no longer where I’m at. I had even read (and enjoyed) Mike’s book “Heaven is a Place on Earth”, but I would not consider ever reading anything of his again due to him calling McLaren unchristian and a heretic, without giving McLaren any opportunity to respond. Scot McKnight will be debating McLaren at an upcoming Q conference – THAT is the format to engage one another fairly. I don’t however consider those with opposing theology to be “liars” – I think they are telling what they believe in their heart and deep love of Jesus and God is there. That’s why I struggle with these “conversations”. I know you are passionate about your beliefs as am I. It would be MUCH easier for me to be an agnostic, but I haven’t given up on God, because he hasn’t given up on me!
    Peace. 🙂

  52. Adam F.

    Jeff Straka,

    I am confused about how a public review of a published text is unfair. I gather that you consider McLaren’s views to be more nuanced than the views he published in his text, but Dr. Wittmer’s reviews are interacting with the text.

    Maybe I misunderstand you. I’m open to clarification.

  53. Jeff Straka

    A public book review is certainly not unfair. But it is NOT fair to conclude that the author is unchristian and a heretic in such a format.

  54. Jeff, is there anything McLaren (or anyone, for that matter) could say in a book which would make him “unchristian?”

  55. Jeff Straka

    Well, that is the very conclusion Mike is pointing toward at the start of this very post – reread it!

  56. I think you misunderstand me (or maybe I misunderstand you). I am asking YOU if you think there is anything any Christian could write in a book that would be far enough off the “deep end” to be labeled “heretic” or “unchristian.” In other words, is there nothing approaching “false teaching” in your worldview? How does that square with the New Testament, where Christians are repeatedly warned to stay away from people who believe and teach the wrong sort of things about God?

  57. Jeff Straka

    While a statement or belief contained in the book itself might be arguably labeled outside the bounds of Christian thought, I would not discount and discard the entire book or the author. Might it require questioning the author for clarification? Yes!

    Question: would you read a book from a known non-Christian if it contained the untarnished teachings/Truth of Jesus in it? For example: “Living Buddha Living Christ” by Thich Nhat Hanh (nominated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for the Nobel Peace Prize)

  58. I would consider reading such a book, since I read plenty of non-Christian authors. Though it would be rather dubious how much real Truth was contained in a book by an author who denied Jesus’ deity yet affirmed his teachings. As C.S. Lewis once said, Jesus didn’t leave people that option.

  59. David

    Jeff, I’ve given you a list of three reasons why your viewpoint – which essentially says that calling McLaren unchristian is not fair (or Christ-like) – is illogical. You have yet to address any of those concerns in this blog, or on Zoecarnate where you brought up the same concern.

    All of the points I’ve brought up are relevant and logical. Yet you continue to use proclaim your stance without defending yourself against what I’ve said. Why are you repeating yourself? Furthermore, why haven’t you addressed the loopholes that I’ve found in your logic?


  60. Jeff Straka

    I’ve given up trying to justify anything to you anymore. We continue to go around and around. I really don’t CARE anymore if I don’t address your “loopholes” to YOUR satisfaction. Nothing I could say will obviously shift your position anyway, so why bother?

  61. Jeff Straka

    Ahhh. Now it makes TOTAL sense why Mike is reviewing McLaren’s book in the manner he is! I had based my decision to read his review on my enjoyment of his previous work, “Heaven is a Place on Earth”. I SHOULD have FIRST checked out his latest book (advertised boldly at the top of his blog)! I just used the “browse inside” feature on Zondervan and NOW it get it! Mike’s latest book promotes HIS way as the “third way” between conservative and liberal Christians that the postmodern crowd is supposedly seeking and NOT the “postmodern innovators” (his term) of the emergent church, which he goes on to knock by name (McLaren, Jones, Burke) in his book. So, of course when you want to pump up book sales of your own book a bring a spotlight to yourself, you HAVE to discredit the “innovators” mentioned in your book (and take sales from them) – it’s the capitalist way! Of course you want to call them heretics because it will wipe out half your competition! Duh! So shame on ME for not checking this out first!

  62. Jeff, that’s fine, slander Wittmer with bad motives. Kevin DeYoung has a really good and long review of McLaren’s book as well if you’d like to read it:

  63. Jeff Straka

    Nah. I’m good. I’m done.

  64. David

    Whereas Mike has taken what Brian McLaren has written and said, and noted the direct heresy within his writings, you have taken what Mike has written and said, and written it off because you made an assumption about his character declaring he has a hidden agenda).

    A primo copout!

    And, may I mention, even if Mike DOES have a hidden agenda, you still have to deal with the logical points he makes. An ad hominem doesn’t negate assertions that have been made

    Funny, you pulled the same stunt with me when I asked you to confront my refutations (you made an assumption about my character, declaring that I wouldn’t listen to you even if you did counter my points).

  65. Jeff Straka

    Look, David, I would not consider a Brian McLaren book review on a book written by Mark Driscoll to be non-biased or “fair and balanced” either! Nor if Doug Pagitt critiqued Jeremy Bouma’s book. If you have written a book opposed to the other guys view, it is going to be slanted/tainted in some way. DeYoung has a book out against emergents – HIS views are biased.

    When I first came to this site, I was totally unaware that Mike had a “dog in this fight”. If he is coming from the “middle ground” between “conservative and liberal” theology, like his book is alleging (and how I found him to be in his “Heaven” book), he would be offering SOME agreement with SOME point in McLaren’s book.

    It is SO reminding me of the idiotic political parties in this nation (BOTH sides) that can’t seem to find SOMETHING the other party offers of value. So I WOULD be apt to listen to Mike’s opposing points IF he showed some value AT ALL in what McLaren is saying! That was what I was initially hoping to find, but was more and more disappointed as his blogs proceeded.

  66. […] important? 7. Question 5, part 1: What is the Gospel? 8. Question 5, part 2: What is the Gospel? 9. Question 6: What do we do about the church? 10. Question 7: Can we find a way to address human sexuality? 11. Question 8 and 9: Can we find a […]

  67. […] as if McLaren is screaming “I hate God!” at the top of his lungs,” and Mike Wittmer suggests that “Brian’s theological commitments place him outside the bounds of Christian […]

  68. Yooper

    I do not expect those who view the Word of God as mere words on paper to understand what all the fuss is about.

  69. Infinite Warrior

    Conservative theology/liberal theology; Christian/Unchristian; orthodox/heretic; close-minded/open-minded. Thanks for the reminder why I left the church in the first place: it’s a house forever divided and a house divided against itself cannot stand. (Matthew 12:25)

    I get as many reminders from the “liberal” side of the “equations”, of course, as many of the above terms are apparently arbitrary, interchangeable and — everywhere I’ve been thus far —

    -sumed. How fortunate for all us "heretics" standing in the doorway of the crumbling Church facade that there is also Matthew 9:22. (Thanks for that, Jesus. Feels fantastic to be whole.)
    I haven't read McLaren's book though excerpts from it posted around the Web have renewed my hopes that faithful questioning will eventually heal the "Body of Christ" in which the Church has insisted on forever thrusting a Roman spear. 
    Or has it?
    From the sound of it, McLaren questions the persistent Greco-Roman overlay of Jesus' teachings so I may have to add it to my ever-growing reading list. I've heard McLaren "hates the God of the Bible" because he's questioned the early church's characterization of God as (essentially) Zeus and Augustine's faulty (Western) perception of God's eternal time in terms of Western Man's categorization of time -- freely back-projecting and fore-projecting in the process.
    Perhaps the trouble is with the title itself, A "New" Kind of Christianity, as there doesn't appear to be anything particularly "new" about it. The questions themselves are quite old and deliciously resonant (as opposed to bombastically rhetorical).
    I'm beginning to like this Christian "emergent" movement. It's actually moving, much like "the Spirit of God on the waters of the deep" rather than pinning people (or insisting people pen themselves) in the liberal "camp" or the conservative "camp" or the esoteric "camp" or the exoteric "camp" or the orthodox "camp" or the hetero orthodox "camp". Generally-speaking, when I'm on a camping trip, it's not particularly important on which bank of the river I wind up making "camp". I only make camp to sleep. Otherwise, I'm awake and enjoying the flowing waters of the river.
  70. […] 164). The meaning of those words depends upon how Brian answered his previous five questions. As Mike Wittmer […]

  71. Hey, I just hopped over to your web-site using StumbleUpon. Not somthing I would usually read, but I liked your views none the less. Thanks for creating something worth browsing.

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