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Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Comment Response


Time to get back into writing a little bit again.  I wanted to follow up on a couple of things that Jeremy raised in a recent comment. 

Why is it that many young Christians are evaluating the actions of adults, seeing that their lacking, and judging that Scripture, God, modernism, Church, and Christianity doesn’t work? Why can’t they see that the people they're [sic] judging are simply not being faithful to the Word? They are modeling something Christ never intended!

That's a good question.  I've felt that way myself.  But here's maybe a clarification and maybe a couple follow up questions.  First, I'm uncomfortable with the question because it puts to burden on the outsider.  Remember, we're mostly talking about the non-Christian outsider, not the person like myself or like you who should really know better.  Should we put the burden on the one outside to make such an insider-like observation?  And that leads to the second issue, and that is that the many people that are living in a kind of religiously cultural Christianity that has been co-opted by the wider culture and almost sycretistically made into a new mix of Americanachristianity have heard the gospel, have studied the scriptures, and frankly, we should know better.  If we're really honest, we ignore or explain away so much of the plain-talk of the Scripture with one side of the mouth and with the other we harp on literal readings of the Scripture when it suits our personal, political, social comfort zone.

Question and comment…Would you be willing to say that much of the modern church is inept, undisciplined, socially unconcerned, because of the SEEKER SENSITIVE METHODOLOGY? ...In our desire to be “relevant” we have watered down the Gospel and made “Christians” in name only.

Hmmm.  Another good question and comment.  I do think that some of the Seeker Sensitive model has been a part of the problem, but it's a bit too simplistic to put it on that.  Seeker sensitivity is important.  Remember, the Holy Spirit convicts when people are lead to Jesus.  Being sensitive to people's felt needs, unspoken/ unknown needs, and to using a language that is understandable, culturally sensitive, incarnated in the local garb - or as I like to call it - "indigenous" is an important part of what it means to be the kind of loving Christians in the world that Paul talks about in Colossians 4:5-6:

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

 So, I'm not going to get down too much on seeker sensitivity because merely communicating the gospel to someone who doesn't know it requires a high level of interpersonal sensitivity, so I think on a corporate level that would apply in an even higher sense, particular if we put ourselves second and others first.

Has the basic gospel message lost its power in our culture? Must we wrap it in “relevant” social causes?

Wow.  That's loaded.  Because some in the church are rediscovering the biblically high value of justice, addressing poverty, and issues of power doesn't mean we're wrapping the gospel in relevent social causes.  Could it just be that the biblical message is one that is deeply concerned with these issues whether they are currently relevent or not?  Is it also possible that its ability to address these kinds of issues gives the gospel even more power?

On the next part... you have to read everything Jeremy wrote in his comment about framing stories and McLaren's retelling of the Genesis story.  Then, Jeremy ends this way:

Notice that McLaren is injecting a Marxist framework into his interpretation of the opening chapters of Genesis. Gone are the ideas of sin, rebellion, disobedience against God, the fall of man, and the Lord’s solution to our sin in the promise of a savior. McLaren has replaced those Biblical themes with the economic & political categories of consumption, class warfare and imperialism. Is this the new framing story you are looking into? Or are you suggesting something else…basically I’m asking…to you, what is this framing story? Is it a one and only, for all time Biblical story, or one that evolves with culture?

I'm actually not that far into McLaren's book, yet.  I was just using the phrase "framing story" as a different way of saying "metanarrative".  I like the language better.  I wasn't necessarily invoking McLaren's categories or thoughts.  However, given your questions, I'm not sure that I like the dichotomy.  I don't think that McLaren is pitching the classic, orthodox creation-fall-redemption framing story.  I think he's seeing some contours within that story.  He's seeing textures that apply to issues, particularly of power and exploitation, including violence, destruction, and even political power.  Too often we want to pit McLaren against orthodoxy and try to label him a heretic or discount his thinking because it removes the cross.  I don't think that's the case at all, and believe McLaren would take huge issue with it.  I think, instead, he's learning new ways of thinking in a changing world to apply the always relevent, ancient, orthodox truth of the creation-fall-redemption epic by seeing within it some powerful sub-stories.  But again, I haven't read the whole book, yet.

Oh, and on the Marxist framework.  Is it possible that Marx was seeing some truths about how humans relate and abuse power and relationship within a fallen world and wanted to see a more basically human reorientation of our relationships to one another based on equality rather than power, and that, rather than McLaren imposing a Marxist framework on scripture, he's merely seeing some of the same truths in the scriptures as Marx saw through the general revelation of human behaviour?

Lastly, this question:

How do we turn this mess around, while staying completely grounded in the Scriptures.

In my opinion, that's the best question you asked, and the one that I think is being engaged in books like UnChristian and Everything Must Change and many others. 

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