Posts Tagged ‘Brian McLaren’

Aliens & Citizens by Jordan Hylden

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

If you haven’t been following Christianity Today’s “Christian Vision Project” you’ve been robbing yourself of some very good information and deep insight into how we can and should be the church in the 21st century. Yesterday I posted my review of Brian McLaren’s “Everything Must Change.” Today I read an article that helps to balance some of the imbalance I saw. You can read the article by Jordan Hylden here.
Hylden’s specific focus is on how we as followers of Jesus should interact with government. His approach is much more biblical than that espoused by McLaren. He emphasizes the fact that the Israelite exiles in Babylon were admonished to live in and pray for Babylon. As a matter of fact the heroes of Scripture from that time did just that. Think of Daniel, Nehemiah, and Esther. He also points out the Paul’s view of the Roman government was that it was in place at the will of God.
For those that follow Jesus, it is important that we remember our citizenship and ultimate loyalty are not with whatever government issued our passport. It is with God’s kingdom. Yet, to truly live out the values of God’s kingdom, Jesus’ followers should be the best possible citizens of this planet and whatever government under which they live. This includes all moral and ethical issues like the rights of the unborn, responsible care of the environment, loving the poor, etc. These are not Democrat/Republican, Left/Right, Liberal/Conservative issues. These are human issues. Issues rooted in loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Everything Must Change by Brian McLaren

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

One of my biggest frustrations with a lot of what is written by the Christian community is the stark one-sided approach that most of the writers take. In particular I’m talking about the writings of the “Emerging” of “Emergent” authors (yes I know there’s a difference but I challenge you to define it) and the conservative, evangelical authors. Scot McKnight said it well on his blog when discussing the concept of gospel, “Too many today want to be faithful to Jesus’ use of the word ‘gospel’ and ignore Paul; too many also want to be faithful to Paul but ignore what Jesus said.”
This is my fundamental issue with McLaren in Everything Must Change. His premise is that the spiritual aspects that evangelical Christianity tends to focus on are not biblical. Now, I’m committed to communicating my presuppositions on this blog so you should know that my theology is very evangelical and I have spent my entire adult life working in evangelical churches. That said, I feel that McLaren is doing some exegetical gymnastics in his argument that the focus of Christianity is solely in changing what he call the “suicide machine.” The difficulty comes from the framing questions that he is asking. Questions that Scripture never intends to answer.
First, I don’t see any place in Scripture that Jesus or his followers worked to undermine or change established secular authority. That was not their mission. They constantly worked to live God’s kingdom principles in whatever political context in which they operated. They even took advantage of the political situation when it helped to spread their message.
Second, throughout Scripture there is a focus on the transcendent. McLaren ignores this or reinterprets it to support his presuppositions. He seems to argue that rather than needing to be transformed by God through faith we need to have faith that what we do will change the world.
I agree with every call to action that is laid out in the book. We all need to be better stewards of what God has given us. That, however, is not why Jesus came and died. Jesus didn’t die as some sort of protest to Caesar’s system. Jesus died to redeem the people that he deeply loves. He died to provide a way for people to reconnect to the God in whose image we have been created. This reconnection transforms the individual to be the person that will live out God’s values in this world in a way that will point others to God.
We all, especially those of us who claim to follow Jesus, need to be more responsible stewards of the earth and care more about the people that God cares for. Included in that is a need for us to submit to Jesus as Lord which saves us from our sin and transforms us into citizens of his kingdom so that we can spread his kingdom throughout this world.