Brian McLaren answered my email…

So a few weeks ago I posted a review of a book by Brian McLaren entitled ‘Finding Our Way Again’. You can find that post here. In this review I mentioned that in some parts of the book McLaren seemed to be teaching a form of Pluralism. While reading the book I sent an email to Mr. McLaren questioning him about this paragraph. Mr. McLaren was very gracious and took the time to address my question via his blog. In the interest of being fair, and full disclosure, I don’t want to misrepresent Brian or his beliefs, so I am linking to his post here. I am very grateful for Mr. McLaren to address this question, and I think it’s great that he takes the time to dialogue with his readers.

In all honesty, I do wish he would be a little less ambiguous about certain issues. Ambiguity when it comes to the Gospel I fear is a dangerous thing. I understand the value of conversations, but the conversation is not the goal of our preaching. I do, like Brian believe that we cannot have an ‘us’ verses ‘them’ mentality in relation to our Muslim neighbors, and they must be treated with much love and respect and honor…As we would like them to treat us. All religions and faiths should be able to co-exist on our planet peacefully…that should be our goal. Yet we know that ultimately, true and lasting peace, won’t happen until Christ returns to make all things right.

As Brian would agree, we must love as Christ loved. Still, there were issues in which Christ was not ambiguous or vague. He drew the line at who He Himself was, and the nature of the God that He was faithful too. We should be no different. All of this being said, we must be careful not to beat around the proverbial bush of truth. But that truth must be shared in love, which I would admit, many of my brethren fail miserably at this, as do I.

After reading Brian’s response, I don’t believe him to be a Pluralist…but others can make that judgment if they so choose. I’ve heard others question his orthodoxy, and again, others can make those calls. I know too little about his overall theology outside of the two books I’ve read by him, “A Generous Orthodoxy” and “Finding Our Way Again“. Either way, I believe the man deserves credit for his willingness to dialogue with those who may not be so friendly to him, and some of the stances he takes, and to those who disagree with him. I too certainly don’t agree with some of what I’ve read by him…that being said, I do respect him as an individual, even if I do question his theology.

Take a look..

I was driving home yesterday after picking up my kids at their grandmothers and stumbled onto National Public Radio. They we’re airing an interview with Ingrid Mattson. Well, if you’re like me you probably have never heard of this woman. I was struck with curiosity though when I heard that she was the president of the Islamic Society of North America. She was Canadian born and raised Catholic. She is the first woman, and the first convert to Islam elected to the position.


I was struck by how intelligent she was, and how articulate she was in her statements. I was struck by how passionate she was about her religion and the calling that she felt she had on her life. She definitely gave a different view of Islam than what I had held in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I have always felt that there we’re many “good” people who were Islamic. But unfortunately that isn’t the picture we get today when we watch our televisions and read our papers. Also, here was an Islamic woman. I think here in America we believe that all Muslim women are oppressed. We definitely have a stereotype when we think of these women with their heads covered. I suppose we think that this is a form of submission, maybe even a way to keep women in their place. Like I say we all have our stereotypes. Here in America we probably have more, it is hard for many Americans to think outside of their own culture.


All of this being said, my point is this; Here was an obviously intelligent woman. She was very educated, and well traveled. Here was a woman who was so passionate about her religion and her calling. What was it that converted her to Islam?


I am a Christian, and I have many reasons that I believe Islam to be a false religion. I don’t want to get into that, it is for another time and place. But what was it that brought such an intelligent lady to this false religion?


Well, during this interview she told of her conversion experience. She told the story of how she met some South Africans who were Muslim and she was struck by how dignified they were. She said they were people who were treated very badly by many people yet they treated everyone with kindness. Even those who didn’t treat them well. She said she was very taken by how they composed themselves, and how they had such self confidence, without being haughty or conceded. I am paraphrasing here, as I can’t remember her exact words. But I think you get the point.


So I began thinking. What would have happened if she had of met some Christians who composed themselves in this same way? What would happen if more Christians composed themselves in this way? Isn’t it what we ought to be doing? We are told in the Bible to love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those that persecute us. And shouldn’t we too have a bit of self assuredness about ourselves? We have been given eternal life, and forgiven of our sins. We have nothing at all to fear in this life if we have been saved. Now again, I am not saying that we ought to be prideful or boastful. We deserved none of this. Everything we have comes from God. So our confidence ought not be in ourselves, but in the God that saved us, and He who bore our sins upon Himself on the cross. So let us always have the proper perspective.


So many times Christians are either walking around looking gloomy and sad. That should never be. We ought to have the greatest joy of anyone else walking on the planet. By that same token, way too many times Christians walk around with this holier than thou attitude as if they were better than everyone else they came in contact with. They act as if they had done something to deserve this wonderful gift that they had been given. Neither of these are ways in which a Christian should act.


Many of us could take a lesson from these Muslims that Ingrid met. We need to be dignified, treat EVERYONE with kindness, even those that don’t treat us so well. If we did this, how many more people would we see become Christians. I once heard a quote from Ghandi that said the problem with Christianity isn’t Christ, or His teachings. But it is Christians. I think we all can look at what he said and understand what he means. I’ve also heard it said that we may be the only Bible that some people read, so we ought to be living in a way that glorifies God, and point people to Him. How many of us truly do this? I think we all need to take a look in the mirror and evaluate ourselves.


You know the main thing that really got to me as I listened to this interview was a since of sadness. Like I said earlier this lady was very passionate about her religion and her God. She felt a real calling on her life to give a voice to Muslim women all over the world. And to paint a picture of what she felt Islam was really about. She wanted to show that Islam isn’t the religion of violence we see on T.V. and read about in the papers.


These are all noble things. But the fact is, she is still worshipping a false God. From all indications she is a wonderful woman. But it saddens me that unless she finds the true God, and unless she seeks Jesus, and accepts the salvation that only comes through Him, she will never see the Kingdom of God. It saddens me that there are many people like this in our world. It saddens me also that so many Christians are doing so little about it.


I was reading a sermon by Charles Finney, a great revivalist from the 19th century, and he was talking about many people and churches, and how they profess to have a love for the lost, and a love for the heathen, but never do anything to reach those people. I think many churches and Christians today are in that same boat. We talk a good game about preaching the message of Christ, and bringing salvation to the world, and helping those in need. But where is the action? Is that really a love for the lost? If you aren’t doing anything to bring the message of Christ to people, do you really care about telling people about Jesus? It is time for all of us who call ourselves Christians to have our actions line up with our words. Stop talking about what we are going to do, and do it. This is a lost and dying world. People are dying and going to hell every minute of every hour. Many “good people” are dying without Jesus. Many people who are very sincere about their “religion” are going to hell. If this doesn’t sadden you, then maybe you need to ask yourself if you really are what you claim to be. God bless…