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Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Filtering by Tag: Evangelicals

McLaren at Baker


Brian McLarenFindint Our Way AgainI went to see Brian McLaren tonight with a friend at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids.  He was on a book tour for his new book in Phyllis Tickle's series on Ancient Spiritual Practices called Finding our Way Again.  He didn't talk a whole lot about the book, but instead talked for a bit about his last three books (The Secret Message of Jesus, Everything Must Change, and this new one) and the kernels of thought and heart that have produced them.  You can tell that McLaren is passionate about change in the world in which we live more in line with the Kingdom of God.  It's always great to hear McLaren, not because he's super-inspiration or charasmatic, but because he opens up the Scriptures often in a new way and his questions are challenging.  I also am particularly fond of his almost fearless (now) prophetic words towards the secular culture and towards the church, particularly the evangelical church.  He answered the typical questions I figured he'd get like "What do I say to my conservative friends who don't like you or think your dangerous" and "what do you really think of hell and the afterlife."  The second one, he really danced around and I wasn't fully satisfied with, but he consistently went back to his reading of Scripture through the lens of the inbreaking Kingdom of God in peace, love, generosity, and goodness.  Here are a couple highlights for me (paraphrases):

"The evangelical church is not meant to be a chaplaincy to secular capitalistic consumerism."

"If you read the passages of the bible literally about some things, you have to read it literally about others."  His example here was the story of the Rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16, in which he says, "If you read this passage literally, it seems like the way to get to hell is by being prosperous, and the way to get to heaven is to be a poor beggar with nothing."

McLaren also talked about what the Gospel is and how it relates to things like penal substitutionary atonement and he also responded to Driscoll's comments (although Driscoll was unnamed) attacking McLaren - the jist being that McLaren's Jesus is too soft and sissy, and Driscoll's Jesus who appears again in on a war-path of violence against his enemies.  McLaren was excellent on this point and gracious to his detractors as always.  I'm not going to sum it up except to say that McLaren is thinking about writing a book that responds to the misunderstandings of his critics.  On this note he talked about exclusivism, inclusivism, and universalism in terms of salvation - and I think I'll try to post on that next.

Overall it was an uneventful but stimulating discussion as always.  McLaren speaks today at Mars Hill, in case you're interested. 

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The Future of Evangelicalism 11: An Evangelical Manifesto


I've talked in previous posts about what it means, has meant, and might mean in the future to be an evangelical.  There are lots of definitions, but there is some remarkable similarity among them.  I want to mention a new document here entitled "An Evangelical Manifesto" which seeks to give some definition to Evangelical identity and public commitment.  The document seeks from within evangelicalism to give self-definition in a sort of apologetic against or in contra-distinction to the labels that can come from culture, media, and those who might speak against evangelicals.  I don't think, though, that it's primarily defensive.  There's certainly a view towards the future of evangelicalism in the midst of a shifting church, culture, and theological debate.  There is certainly a focus here on the place of evangelicals in public life and some "redefining" based upon evangelicalism's wedding itself too much in the past to religious right.  The document on first glance looks to be pretty good.  People like Timothy George, Os Guiness, Richard Mouw, and Dallas Willard were a part of the steering committee, which is good.  I'm still reading it, so I'm not ready to comment, yet.  There are a few things about the tone, the wideness, and the heart of evangelicalism that I like.  Not sure if I'll sign it, yet. It's been noted by CNN (actually AP) and USA Today among others (and you can find an article at CT here).

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The Future of Evangelicalism


I've been thinking a lot for several years about the future of evangelicalism.  A number of writers over the past decade have written about both the past, the meaning of, and the future of evangelicalism.  There's no consensus. I guess I find this particularly interesting because I've always kind of wondered where I fit in the whole scheme of things.  I haven't written in a while on this blog, and part of the reason is that I've been on a journey of rediscovery for the past 4 months.  I've been returning to some roots of mine both theological, culturally, and in my own personal narrative.  It's been a fascinating ride, really.  I've had more clarity about what I believe, where I fit, how I'm evangelical, (how some people would say I'm not and why), why I'm drawn to the emerging church, why I'm drawn to the missional church, why I'm interested in the new monasticism, why I never feel comfortable with either a conservative evangelical or a liberal Christian label.  I've made peace with myself about why deconstruction is important to me and how it fits my reformed theological roots, and a lot more.

Anyway, all of this works together in me to in my concern over the future of the evangelical church.  Where are we headed?  Who is we?  Who decides who "we" is?  In the past, it seemed that our "pop" evangelicalism was lead by our pastor - JI Packer, our theologian - John Stott, and our evangelist - Billy Graham.  But with these leaders all aging and approaching the end of their earthly days, I wonder who will lead us, and whether we'll stay together.  There are certainly people vying for power over the label.  There's a resurgence of deeply conservative fundamentalism, a rise in global evangelical fruit, an upsurge of new reformed calvinists (or neo-calvinists), a hugely "successful" non-denominational mega-church movement with powerfully influential leaders, an emerging church alternative, and an increase in Pentecostal churches and much more.  So... what is the way forward for evangelicals?

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