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December 29, 2004
This morning I began writing my review of Brian McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy. As of 3:45 PM I am several hours in, but not near enough finished to seriously think I will be able to post it today. There go my plans for the day! I have written most of it, but now need to go back and edit it, clean up the introduction, and attempt to write a charitable conclusion.
It is a difficult thing to read a book, written by one who claims to be a believer, treasured by many more who are definitely believers, but so contradictory to the faith. I have not yet decided how I will handle this. Do I just say what I believe and indicate that McLaren’s writings are heretical and thus he is a heretic? Would I be uncharitable to label him in this way or would it be a greater sin to pretend he is not? I believe this review will be ready by many and will likely generate some discussion. If my articles on the labyrinth are any indication, the discussion will not be all positive.
But how can I not label as a heretic one who says the following:
- He apologizes for his continued use of masculine pronouns to describe God. He proposes several solutions to this dilemma, including interchanging he and she or using the clumsy s/he. In the end he merely apologizes for the use of he, affirms that he considers God neither male nor female and tries to avoid using pronouns altogether. He goes on to say that the usage of the Father/Son imagery so prevalent in Scripture “contributes to the patriarchalism or chauvinism that has too often characterized Christianity.”
- That we have “misunderstood and misused Paul.” He believes that traditional views of Paul have pitted him against Jesus so that we have “retained Jesus as Savior but promoted the apostle Paul to Lord and Teacher.” He tells us that the result of today’s Christianity is “a religion that Jesus might consider about as useful as many non-Christians consider it today.”
- In regards to Mary he expresses a realization that his Protestant faith has been impoverished “with its exlusively male focus.” He explains how much we have missed, as Protestants, by failing to see the beauty of the incarnation through Mary.
- That he rejects TULIP, all of the solas and biblical inerrancy, Further, he mentions the people who most understood what it meant to be biblical Christians as St. Francis, Mother Teresa and Billy Graham.
So what do you think? Do I just out and declare that he is a heretic and let the chips fall where they may, or do I instead take the charitable approach, drawing out the good and merely warning against false teaching?
Regardless of what I do I am looking forward to finishing this review and turning my attention back to the five solas, useless though they may be in McLaren’s eyes.