Monday, May 24, 2010

Episode 68 A New Kind of Christianity with guest Brian McLaren

Brian McLaren, evangelical author and leading voice in the "emergent church" movement, is creating controversy with his latest book "A New Kind of Christianity." Some evangelicals see McLaren as a wolf in sheep's clothing. He rejects the notion of a vengeful God that would punish all non-Christians with eternal torment. He questions traditional evangelical doctrines like original sin and the inerrancy of the Bible and he argues in favor of a number of (gasp!) progressive political causes. McLaren joins us on the show to discuss his perspective on Christianity and the Bible. Also in this episode: for a new installment of "God Thinks like You" we critique a recent Christianity Today article "the Case for Early Marriage" and discuss research regarding "blue state" vs. "red state" views on sex, marriage and divorce.

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dagnarus said...

Listening to the interview, I was struck by his comment about by being humble and being led by the Holy Spirit. This is because I remember constantly being told to do this by my former church. I know that personally to me this meant things such as being humble enough to accept that while I personally didn't have anything against homosexuals, God's view was that homosexuality was that it was evil, I know that I wasn't the only one. Basically if he's going to talk about being humble to accept the holy spirit, I know people who abandoned decent jobs, were ostracized by their families and communities (we had views divergent from mainstream Christianity, and some of them were formerly buddhist or other different religions), and just in general suffered tremendous suffering, in order to devote themselves to God in this church, something which they felt they were inspired by God to do. If he's saying that their view of God wasn't inspired by humbling themselves before God, whereas his view of God is the product of a humble heart, well that's a crock. In my opinion if the liberal religious were being more honest they would accept that receiving revelation from supernatural entities can result in anything from volunteering down at the homeless shelter to flying yourself into a building shouting Allah Akbhar.

Lausten North said...

Great show, your format was perfect for this issue. I think Rob Bell is taking the same old same old and just repackaging it in jeans and a T-shirt, I don't think he is "emerging" anything. Brian definitely is.

Your criticisms were all valid and delivered in a respectful manner. I hope this level of conversation gets out into more of the culture. Note that Brian used the word "conversation", meaning it is not just his message, it is something that will change as it goes on.

Mendelation said...

I enjoyed this podcast very much. I had one thought that wasn’t brought up in the conversation. Is it possible that these guys are seeing this as a golden opportunity? It seems clear that the traditional approach to christianity is changing in this country. Polls show that younger christians are willing to consider multiple belief systems and are rejecting the “No man comes to the father except through me” philosophy of traditional christianity.

There’s a lot of money to be made by a church that caters to these new-age christians. It’s possible these guys are seeing the writing on the wall that to prosper as a religion, christianity needs to evolve to embrace these new beliefs.

SplendidMonkey said...

Yet another excellent show. I wonder if the reason Mr. McLaren came to a different conclusion than Jeremy when looking critically at scriptures, is his vested interest in his career as a pastor and author.

Eli Loehrke said...

During the show I heard the following quote,"heretics have always been more dangerous than infidels". Does anyone know where this comes from? Should I attribute it to the RD team?

indy said...

Enjoyable and classy podcast.
Inspired? No evidence presented to persuade a critical thinker.Maybe the gullible part of his brain lights like a christmas tree when he considers these topics.

spacemonkey said...

I liked the interview, but even though I understand the objective of it was geared towards comprehension and not critique, I was amazed at how many times McLaren avoided answering the questions.

Of course he didn't do so directly, but he wiggled out of answering if God really had ordered genocide, or answering how one can tell which parts of the Bible are "inspired" and which aren't. I really do think you guys should've called him on this, because it isn't critique, it's trying to understand where his stuff is coming from.

Yes, I do think you were soft, as you predicted some of us would, but the point is that, if this guy can't answer those questions, he's really not bringing anything new to the table. He sounded like a stereotypical moderate christian, trying to think hard about some things, but not all. I think this interview would've been almost identical had it been done to thousands of other people.

Anonymous said...

The McLaren interview was nonsensical babble. Not enough hard questioned asked. His view on abortion, evolution and homosexuality would have been nice.

Anonymous said...

Finally listened to this ep today. While I would like to grill McLaren on some of the questions others have raised, it was great to hear someone who calls himself an evangelical admit many of the textual issues with the Bible which literalists usually ignore or reject.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this interview. Hopefully he will join you again to dig deeper into some of the unanswered questions you posed.

As a former evangelical Christian, it was actually some of McClaren's books that helped me break away from fundamentalist thinking. At the same time I began reading The Language of God by Francis Collins and that made me rethink my views on evolution. Before I knew it I was devouring Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, discovering this podcast, etc. It has been quite a journey. I think it took some from "within my camp" (McClaren, Collins, Ken Miller, etc.) to break me of my deep-seated beliefs that I took for granted before I could be open to those others.

Now, as I read A New Kind of Christianity I can't help but think that McClaren is just a step away from agnosticism himself. The questions he asks are many of the same I have. It would not surprise me if he continues his deconstruction and ends up agnostic or atheist.

I do appreciate the gracious, humble way he approaches the subject of faith. He may not have reached the same conclusions I have, but I definitely consider him one of the good guys.

Thanks again for this interview.