Brian McLaren Has Finally Said Something True

And while saying it also managed to say something false- in the same sentence!  McLaren, emerging church heretical leader in Australia, opined recently

The Kingdom of God is not about me but about transforming the world and everything in it…

He’s certainly right- it isn’t about him. And the fact that he has to say as much demonstrates how far his followers are from understanding either Christianity or Christ. But he’s emergently wrong in the second half when he maintains that the Kingdom of God is ‘about transforming the world and everything in it’. It isn’t about that at all. The Kingdom of God is about God. Not McLaren or this world or anything in it. The Kingdom is about God’s reign. Not man’s submission or transformation.

As is the case in all emergent theology, the emphasis is on the wrong word, in the wrong place. Emergent theology is – to borrow a phrase from Luther – ‘a theology of glory’ and not at all ‘the theology of the Cross’. And here’s what Luther says about all such ‘theologies of glory’-

The theologian of glory observes the world, the works of creation. With his intellect he perceives behind these the visible things of God, His power, wisdom, and generosity. But God remains invisible to him.

And so too does God – the real God – the God of truth and not the god of man’s making- remain invisible and utterly unknown to emergent christianity’s adherents. On the other hand

The theologian of the cross looks to the Crucified One. Here there is nothing great or beautiful or exalted as in the splendid works of creation. Here there is humiliation, shame, weakness, suffering, and agonizing death… [That] “God can be found only in suffering and the cross”…

Emergents have no idea what any of that means. Nor can they, since they do not know the only True God, the One who reveals himself and truth.

12 thoughts on “Brian McLaren Has Finally Said Something True

  1. irishanglican 27 Feb 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Indeed the lost element (and there are really many in emergents) is the lack of the fear and reverance of God as sovereign and totally other. God must be God! And not a god we control, or fully understand.
    The Cross is not a thing of glory strictly, but suffering death and dying, which if we truly follow Christ must be enacted in some manner in the Christian life (2 Cor. 4: 7-11). But only God controls this providence also, we don’t, but we do seek obedience. To be a Christian is always to take up “our” Cross and follow Jesus! (Lk. 9: 23 ; 14: 27, etc.) But this cannot be done in the power or place of the “flesh”…the emergence of activity.


  2. Frank Emanuel 28 Feb 2010 at 10:13 am

    Say what?

    So are you saying that God is not transforming the world? That sounds like an overly-futurist eschatology Jim. I’d have to see the context of McLaren’s quote but I have a hard time he’s doing what you claim here – excluding the importance of the cross. I also doubt McLaren would have an over-realized eschatology, as you claim, but I thought you were Bultmannian?

    I agree that the Kingdom of God is the reign of God. But the reign of God expressed always transforms the world where it is manifested.


    • Jim 28 Feb 2010 at 12:11 pm

      it is god who does the transforming. not the people of god. nor their works. it’s all about where the emphasis is placed.


  3. irishanglican 28 Feb 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Also the reign of God is Christ Himself, and wherever His Lordship and power is acknowledged in sinful beings, and thus the collective Body of Christ, the Church. No Church, no Christ, no reign, no power or change!


  4. Frank Emanuel 28 Feb 2010 at 6:03 pm

    The Church is not the Kingdom. That particular heresy has implications that are definitely not pretty.

    In terms of God’s transformative action – the mode by which this occurs is through human action, empowered by God’s Spirit as people (not necessarily Christians, I don’t buy that) respond to God’s reign. There is always a participation that is important. Otherwise you have a distortion of God that prevents and distorts our engagement in social transformation. This one is about balance.


    • Jim 28 Feb 2010 at 8:10 pm

      the ghost of rauschenbusch


  5. irishanglican 28 Feb 2010 at 8:20 pm

    Indeed social transformation is hardly the kingdom of God. Even in the midst of the Reformation, the Church was “wheat & tares”, as it is still, a mixed Body. God alone will harvest the “righteous” at the end, eschaton.


    • Jim 28 Feb 2010 at 8:27 pm

      these days theres more tares than wheat.


  6. irishanglican 28 Feb 2010 at 8:37 pm

    If we knew who were and who were not, it would be frightnening no doubt. Somehow, HE “plucked” me out from this darkness! Amazing grace! What else can any sinner say.


    • Jim 28 Feb 2010 at 8:44 pm

      maybe he plucked you to be one of the condemned… 😉


  7. irishanglican 28 Feb 2010 at 9:19 pm

    This could be true of any of us, even you? We can only know in faith and perseverance in Christ Jesus! But thank God also for the “assurance” of our salvation! (Rom. 8: 16, etc.) Funny though, I have myself never met a Calvinst, that did not think he was one of the elect? Note, the Anglican Article XVII, Of Predestination and Election. But having been raised R. Catholic, I did not always have this “assurance” (even after personal conversion) 40 years ago or so. But Calvin has been helpful, though not always many forms of Calvinism.


  8. irishanglican 28 Feb 2010 at 9:29 pm

    PS…As an Infralapsarian (or sub- or postlapsarian), I believe God only calls the elect “out” of spiritual death to eternal life. The rest of humanity He leaves in their sleep, even the religious without God in Christ. And yes I know Calvin was a Supralapsarian. What is going to be real hard for some Calvinists (that see heaven) is that people like John and Charles Wesley will be there!


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