Brian McLaren: ‘I enthusiastically affirm the Apostles and Nicene Creeds. I’m a wholehearted Trinitarian.’

I mentioned recently that Brian has taken all kinds of heat from certain corners of the blogosphere for putting fingers to keypad on A New Kind of Christianity. This trend, sadly, has continued, with Calvinist blogger Tim Challies ranting “It’s as if McLaren is screaming “I hate God!” at the top of his lungs” and then going into scary 1984 allusions, Dr Mike Wittmer finally comes clean in opining the Brian isn’t even a Christian (something sounding more and more like a compliment every day on the ‘Christian’ blogosphere), and Some Guy (I don’t mean to be rude, but in interacting with this fellow for about a month, I still have no idea who he is behind the pseudonym) feels that Lucifer is being cheated by Brian being called ‘a son of Lucifer.’

Ah, Christians. Can you feel the love? Beyond the acerbic words, the latest route of attack on A New Kind of Christianity seems to be: Who does Brian say that Jesus is?

Is his careful language regarding the Christ-like God who is a nonviolent Liberating King masking an evil liberal agenda? Is having certain friends in scholarly circles who don’t believe in Jesus’ literal resurrection tantamount to Brian denying the same? Can Brian, with a straight face, affirm historic consensus Christian understandings of Jesus’ ontological identity? Well apparently, yes he can. Indeed he’s taken the time to respond to critiques – from everything to ‘Brian’s shamelessly pimping himself and shutting down disagreement with his fundamentalism quiz’ to ‘Brian denies Jesus’ divinity’ – with a ton of grace and class. You should read these three posts in their entirety:

A New Kind of Christianity: response to Morrell and McKnight

A new Kind of Christianity: cont’d

A New Kind of Christianity: cont’d 2

Some money quotes:

My paraphrase of Seth Godin didn’t capture the real point he was trying to make very well at all, and Seth’s point itself could probably have been nuanced and adapted with good effect rather than passing it on as-is.

When I passed on the video clip, I was thinking of issues like these:
– When questions arose in Copernicus’s and Galileo’s time about the structure of the universe …
– When Foulke, Leidy, Owen, and others raised questions in the 19th century about fossils, dinosaurs, and the age of the earth …
– When Lamarcke, Wallace, and Darwin raised questions on the evolution of living organisms …

Most of us, myself included, would have reacted as many of our ancestors did: to reject and mock those who dared question what “everyone” already “knew” to be the case. Thank God for those whose curiosity was strong enough to ask, “What if?”

Certainly, as Scot says, almost anyone’s first response would be to ask how these ideas would sit with their faith community. Scientists would do the same thing as people of faith, I think: comparing what is proposed with what is already believed to be true among their peers. So probably the issue isn’t what one’s first thought is, as I (and Seth) suggested, but instead whether one stops there and refuses to give a new idea a second thought…. [Even] so – thanks to all who critiqued my little quiz. You were right, I was wrong, and I appreciate your good insights.

When Bill Kinnon quite pointedly asks, “Who do you say Jesus is, Brian?” Brian responds:

Who do I say Jesus is? In answering that question, I would go exactly to the passages you did: Peter’s confession of Jesus at Caesarea Philippi (I wrote about this at some length in EMC), Paul’s beautiful hymns in Colossians and Philippians, and John 14:9. So yes, I enthusiastically affirm the Apostles and Nicene Creeds. Yes, I’m a wholehearted Trinitarian.

…and, he agrees with his friend Tom over his friend Marcus on Jesus’ resurrection.

Finally, in speaking of an email he received from an appreciative college student, Brian says

I should add that when this writer is talking about “cheap shots in the blogosphere,” he shouldn’t be interpreted to be saying that there’s anything wrong with vigorous disagreement or critique. Vigorous but respectful disagreement has more in common with vigorous and respectful agreement than it does with cheap shots, I think. But having said that, I understand that it’s impossible to do anything about the cheap shots, so it’s probably not even worthwhile to complain about them. Better to just move forward and focus humbly and prayerfully on constructive disagreement and agreement, in pursuit of God’s truth and goodness.

I agree; the problem is, I haven’t seen much ‘vigorous disagreement’ unaccompanied by cheap shots (thankfully, there has been some commentary done in a very constructive and reconciling tone – it’s like a breath of fresh air). I really want to see some principled push-backs, as I think – this might come as a shock for anyone who might be reading me as a McLaren sycophant – ANKoC deserves a thorough-going critical discussion, and perhaps (gasp!) deconstruction. F’r instance:

Jack Caputo says ‘We deconstruct what we love.’ Brian’s taken the time to deconstruct conventional (and we’ve gotta be honest, patently harmful) constructions of systematic theology, ‘the fall,’ redemption, Jesus’ raison d’être, sexual discourse, eschatology, ecclesiology and more because he loves God, Jesus, and the Church – as well as the stranger, the outsider, and our fragile, in-peril political and ecological systems. So if we love Brian, and if we love conversations, let’s take him at his word when he says

The responses I offer are not intended as a smash in tennis, delivered forcefully with a lot of topspin, in an effort to win the game and create a loser. Rather, they are offered as a gentle serve or lob; their primary goal is to start the interplay, to get things rolling, to invite your reply. Remember, our goal is not debate and division yielding hate or a new state, but rather questioning that leads to conversation and friendship on the new quest.

If we agree with Brian, fine. Let’s agree with him where we can. But if we disagree with Brian, let’s do that too – with vigor, but thoroughly seasoned with grace. Because – as we all agree – there’s a lot at stake with how we live lives of faith, hope, and love in the 21st century.

With this in mind, this week marks the start of the Brian McLaren Channel on, wherein Brian and Spencer Burke discuss each of the ten questions raised in the book. I hope that if you feel passionately about these questions (in whatever direction), you’ll take advantage of the sweepstakes we’re running right now – you can win a live, Skyped-in group discussion with Brian.

(Discussion questions here.)

Ah – and a couple of audio interactions with Brian & ANKoC:

State of Belief

Jay Bakker

72 Responses to Brian McLaren: ‘I enthusiastically affirm the Apostles and Nicene Creeds. I’m a wholehearted Trinitarian.’

  1. Bill Samuel February 17, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    This is a wonderful post. Thank you for it. I agree it has been hard to find thoughtful criticism of what Brian wrote without cheap shots. There has been too much painting of caricatures which don’t resemble the Brian I know.

  2. kevinearth February 17, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

    Leading Calvinist voices are condemning people they disagree with? Shocking.

  3. Kevin Beck February 17, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    I posed my comment under the wrong account. My bad. I suppose that proves I have been elected to damnation.

  4. ron cole February 17, 2010 at 4:41 pm #

    Beautiful, Mike I just posted my musings on the first part of the book. I find it interesting that a lot of folks are up set by what he isn’t saying, rather than what he is saying.There is so much thought provoking stuff in the book, and it’s like people are engaging it with there own agenda as a filter before even entering in to it.

  5. David February 17, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

    Apologies if those of us who see the definition of Christian as static and immovable, are repulsed when people try to identify themselves by the same label, while simultaneously (and drastically) altering the definition.

    It’s not a judgment, it’s a fact. If Brian want something new and relevant, he should call it something else! He should be honest with himself and everyone else.

    But leave my faith alone!

    If he won’t do that, then it boggles my mind how ANYONE could be surprised or offended when Christians become angry about this. How could you expect us to take Brian’s proposed (drastic) alterations to our faith lightly?

    Please don’t tell me it’s about being curious, and not being a “doctrine cop” and all the rest of those escape routes. There are some pretty clear truths laid out in Scripture that preclude certain curiosities. And don’t tell me he’s not trying to change Christianity…his book is called “A New Kind of Christianity”

    • Ted Seeber February 17, 2010 at 5:18 pm #

      You mean, kind of like you Protestants did when you claimed Christianity was more than just Catholicism?

      • David February 17, 2010 at 5:30 pm #

        Well, upon first glance that seems like a really good argument. But there’s a key difference.

        McLaren has redefined Christianity based on some new types of thinking. He is using these new (and very interesting) paradigms to filter the biblical text through. (Here, of course, I am referring to the Greco-Roman mindset, Platonic dualism, and all of that jazz). He very clearly reveals that these thoughts came to him in a conversation. This is where his new kind of Christianity has come from.

        Luther, however, redefined Christianity based on what the Bible says. He saw the Catholic church’s dishonest handling of certain biblical truths (namely salvation by faith alone), and exposed those faults using Scripture.

        So the answer to your question? Yes and no. Yes in the sense that we redefined Christianity based on what the modern ‘church’ was calling it. But no, not like McLaren is doing, because our new definition came out of Scripture, not a postmodern paradigm shift.

      • Ira February 17, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

        Yeah, none of that filtering business for Luther…

      • David February 22, 2010 at 7:19 pm #

        I swore I was done posting on this blog, but I found this on Mark Dever’s review of ANKoC and it applies particularly well to Ted’s comment (and Ira’s addition):

        “McLaren mentions how Martin Luther felt (xii), presenting Luther’s need to break through to a new paradigm as akin to the situation Christians today face. Yet while Martin Luther certainly did grieve over what he saw happening with Tetzel and indulgences, he was fundamentally motivated by a positive certainty as a result of his biblical studies—that our justification is by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It was this positive assertion that was at the heart of the Protestant paradigm shift, nothing less. It was motivated neither by simple dissatisfaction with the status quo (though that was certainly present) nor by optimism for a different and better possible future (though that too was there). Rather there was a certainty of God’s Word to us in Christ that both demolished old systems and led to the re-erecting of still older, New Testament ones.”

    • Bill Samuel February 17, 2010 at 5:50 pm #

      I’d suggest you check the New Testament for places where it seems to define essentials. There aren’t many of them, and I don’t think Brian questions any of them.

      • David February 17, 2010 at 6:01 pm #

        I would call substitutionary atonement the only essential. I wish I could provide you with a quote where McLaren says “I don’t believe in the atonement of Christ’s death” but I cannot. Instead, I must rely on my INTERPRETATION (Kevin) of his writings and speakings, that he does NOT agree.

        The following quote is from a podcast that McLaren did with Leif Hanson. It’s tricky because McLaren is quoting another Christian leader, who he says he will leave unnamed because he thinks it would hurt that particular person’s reputation. Anyway, the quote goes like this:

        “The traditional understanding says that God asks of us something that God is incapable of Himself. God asks us to forgive people. But God is incapable of forgiving. God can’t forgive unless He punishes somebody in place of the person He was going to forgive. God doesn’t say things to you—Forgive your wife, and then go kick the dog to vent your anger. God asks you to actually forgive…. And there’s a certain sense that, a common understanding of the atonement presents a God who is incapable of forgiving. Unless He kicks somebody else.”

        That smacks of arguing against the essential Bill…doesn’t it?

      • Bill Samuel February 17, 2010 at 7:59 pm #

        David, for some reason there’s no Reply option on your post so I’m responding via a reply on my original post.

        “God is incapable of forgiving” is certainly not something I would consider an essential.

        I’m not aware of any place in the NT that indicates that one particular view of the atonement is essential. I don’t think any one theory fully captures the truth of the atonement.

        There are things (not many) in the NT which are indicated as being essential. Substitionary atonement is not one of them. I’m bothered by your apparent rejection of the essentials indicated in the NT. I think Brian accepts those essentials. Who’s the “heretic”?

        Jesus said, “I am the way.” It seems to me that it is Jesus, not some particular doctrinal formulations, that we should be following. And remember it was those who most had their doctrines all figured out and cast in stone that Jesus had the most trouble with.

      • David February 17, 2010 at 8:45 pm #


        I’m encountering the same problem. Can’t seem to find a reply button on yours either. Weird.

        Anyway, I didn’t mean to reject the essentials of the NT that you are referring to (although I’d have to see a list just to be sure), but instead I meant to drastically emphasize the importance of Christ’s death for our sins. That’s why I called it “the only essential”. Because the reason Jesus Christ came to this earth was to fulfill that purpose – forgiveness of sins.

        So please allow me to rephrase my previous statement – SA is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT essential.

        As far as backing up that doctrine some (of the many) Biblical groundings for it are as follows:

        “and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

        “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” Romans 5:8-9

        “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood” Revelation 1:5

      • Bill Samuel February 17, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

        David, there are a lot of things in scripture that are true but aren’t presented as essentials to believe. There are very few places where things are presented in that way, e.g., Romans 10:9 where just 2 beliefs are stated as needed for salvation.

        Atonement is a complicated doctrinal matter where different theories all cite scriptures as evidencew for that particular theory. I don’t see where belief in a particular theory is posited as an essential in the NT.

  6. Carl McColman February 17, 2010 at 4:53 pm #

    I’m only about a third of the way through A New Kind of Christianity, but so far I find his arguments persuasive (even when he takes aim at Neoplatonism!), and his tone collegial, hopeful, and inspiring. Compare that to the vitriol that his critics are spewing forth. Somebody once said that you can judge a tree by the fruit it bears. I think I’ll stick with the hope and trust that McLaren places in a God of love and justice over the rage and fulminations of those who feel compelled to attack rather than critique — in their zeal to defend their purist theology, even at the expense of basic human civility.

    • David February 17, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

      An honest look at what McLaren is doing would give any man the expectation that there would be an uproar in the Christian community. I would hope that all of those uproarious Christians (myself included) would be civil. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

      To write us off because we’ve gotten too angry, or said mean things, is a cop out. While we shouldn’t be slinging crap, the fact that that is happening doesn’t make the point any less valid. Furthermore, Dr. Mike Wittmer has done an academic analysis of McLaren’s book, rather than a frenzied crap-slop (which can be read at

      You are making a choice, but it sounds like you know that already.

      • Bill Samuel February 17, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

        Don’t think Wittmer;s ravings would survive a good peer review. He takes a lot out of context, puts Brian in boxes that Brian hasn’t placed himself, and paints a grossly misleading picture of the book. It’s a hatchet job, not a respectable academic analysis.

      • Jeff Straka February 18, 2010 at 1:53 pm #

        For Mr. Wittmer, a seminarian professor, to essentially label McLaren “unchristian” and a “heretic” without allowing any clarification or elaboration on the part of the author is unbelievable! (And Wittmner wonders why McLaren has some issues with seminaries?!) From Wittmer’s blog:

        “After examining Brian’s unchristian biases in his first 5 theological questions, I am reconsidering my commitment to working through each of his 5 practical questions (but I will keep slogging away, as it’s almost Lent). If Brian’s theological commitments place him outside the bounds of Christian orthodoxy, why should we care what he thinks we should do about the church? To paraphrase Tertullian in his Prescription of Heretics, “It’s not your church!”

    • David February 18, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

      Jeff, you used this same logic on Wittmer’s blog ( and you were given some very good points as to why that logic fails. You did not respond to those postings (for whatever reason I do not know), but suffice it to say, you have not dealt with the refutations I and the other commentators have supplied you with. So I will supply them here as well.

      1. McLaren has been given years to clarify himself, and it’s now pretty easy to draw the conclusion that McLaren does not represent Biblical Christianity.

      2. All of McLaren’s statements have been made in the public realm. The Matthew 18 principle of taking your brother aside in private to rebuke him for his sins addresses the issue of handling a sin that is “one against another”. In McLaren’s instance, he is publicly trying to sway the flock with false teaching. This is not a matter of personal sin. Therefore Wittmer’s actions of interpreting McLaren’s statement through the Biblical filter (to determine their accuracy and validity), and then going on to warn other Christians about the deceptions, theological “backflips” and faulty teachings being used, is perfectly in line with the duties of any pastor/church leader protecting the flock.

      3. Your statement would imply that we would have to have one-on-one discussions with every person that publicly preached false doctrine before notifying the flock. That is absurd.

  7. justamouse February 17, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    Wow. We Christians eat our own, don’t we? God forgive us.

  8. Ted Seeber February 17, 2010 at 5:12 pm #

    On being called not a Christian almost being a complement- it’s for EXACTLY this reason that I have the habit of describing myself as Catholic online- even going so far as to reject the connection between the Mother Church and certain Christianutty groups out there.

    A big one for me is pro-life. If you read what the Popes have written on the topic, being pro-life is more than just rejecting abortion; it’s about creating systems that put human life as a higher value than material profit, it’s about giving to God the power of life and death instead of taking that power away from God and making it a human decision.

    But you wouldn’t know that from most “Christian” pro-lifers- all they seem to care about is the child *before* he is born, never support for the parents after birth, support for the worker raising a family, support for the elderly and the terminally ill so that they do not despair and resort to euthanasia.

    • David February 17, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

      Ted, what are you talking about? That is ridiculous logic my friend. Just because most of what you HEAR about is Christians fighting against abortion, doesn’t mean that’s their only contribution to the pro life movement. Fighting against abortion just happens to be a more frenzied fight – it happens to be more polarizing and more violent. So naturally you are going to hear more about it (from both sides). Just because you don’t hear about a horde of Christian families out in the street protesting on behalf of single moms, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.

      Your logic: “Christian’s don’t care about pro-life outside of the abortion debate because all I ever hear about is Christians protesting abortion” is ridiculous. For so many reasons.

    • Bill Samuel February 17, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

      It varies. We have a variety of Christian leaders (including Brian) who endorse Consistent Life – – which is a nonsectarian network promoting the consistent life ethic.

  9. Kevin Beck February 17, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

    Yes. A New Kind of Christianity that is gracious, generous, not defensive, not frightened, open to growth, self-emptying in the fashion of Jesus himself. Hard to argue with that — unless, of course, it runs afoul of the 2000 years of content and tradition that have accumulated and that we uncritically read back onto Jesus.

    • David February 17, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

      Again, there are some pretty clear truths laid out in Scripture that preclude certain curiosities, certain “openness to growth”. If you choose to open things up to interpretation that are indeed open for interpretation, that’s one thing. If you choose to interpret things that are not, then it becomes heretical. Who is to choose? Well I guess you are. But it’s a choice nonetheless, and one that we will all have to answer for one day.

      No one is frightened here Kevin.

  10. Kevin Beck February 17, 2010 at 5:49 pm #

    The kingdom of God is like a little bit of yeast. It grows and permeates the whole loaf. The entire thing is under continual change.

    Look at all of the change in the Book of Acts alone. 120 becomes 3000. The apostles are forced to leave Jerusalem. Peter goes to Gentiles. And I supposes, David, that you’ve even changed.

    Meanwhile, “interpret” is the right word. You hit on it perfectly. You have interpreted that some things are not open for interpretation. That is one of the most postmodern moves I’ve ever seen. Well done.

    • David February 17, 2010 at 5:53 pm #

      Thanks Kevin. I suppose you’re right! I definitely have interpreted that there are some un-interpretables.

      • Kevin Beck February 17, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

        Hi David,
        We all interpret. For me, I start with “Love God, and love others.” The rest — as they say — is commentary. But even commentary is fun to discuss. Thanks for the conversation.

  11. David February 17, 2010 at 6:05 pm #

    Kevin, I agree that the conversation has been good. I disagree with your interpretive starting point.

    Although I would not call this an interpretive starting point (I would argue that this is the only starting point), I begin from: Jesus Christ is God’s Son, He is my only hope for salvation, and He is the forgiveness of my sins by faith.

    Thanks to you too.

    • David February 17, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

      I would also add Hebrews 11:6 here.

      “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

    • ron cole February 18, 2010 at 7:56 am #

      Hi David, in the context of the gospels I don’t find that as a starting point. I see the starting point as nothing more than a profound invitation to follow…and with no real understanding, ” they followed. There is no where within the text of any gospel interpretation of the disciples making, and declaring, ” a statement of faith.” If you suggest, Peter’s declaration at the interestion of a road on the way Caesarea Philipi. even in the orginal Greek text it does not come close to your interpretation. Even with in the context of the last supper in the upper room which has been made sacred in our liturgy/eucharist and communion, there is no statement of faith. In fact I would venture to say, the disciples had no idea of what was going on. I find it all so interesting that in our christianization of Jesus radical scandalous faith of submission and unrestrained following…we’ve turned it into a static system of belief. Where if ” i ” don’t affirm what ” you ” believe I’m out. David, I would ask you. ” what did Jesus want his disciples to believe?” Not the church, not you…what did Jesus ask his disciples to believe?

      • David February 18, 2010 at 1:42 pm #


        You are absolutely correct. That is most definitely not the starting point of three of the four Gospels. Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell the story of Christ asking these seemingly unbecoming men to follow Him on a journey which would inevitably reveal his divinity, his holiness and his majesty to them. John is a different story, since he begins with Christ’s divinity and almost wholly focuses on Him being “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”.

        I think I understand what you’re saying: Jesus didn’t require some kind of statement of faith to follow Him. He just asked His disciples to listen, to get up on their feet and follow Him wherever He may take them.

        You’re right! And their story is a great example of the kind of faith we need to have in Him. But just because the whole story wasn’t revealed to them, doesn’t mean we have to act as if the whole story isn’t revealed to us! It is! It’s silly to act as if we’re following Jesus the same way they were – the world had no idea who Jesus was at that point, so all they could do was act on faith and hope that the journey Jesus was leading them down wasn’t some crazed ideology. Thanks to the Gospels and the epistles, we know who Jesus was and is, and we know what He asks of us.

        You’re argument – that it wasn’t a static system of belief back then, so it shouldn’t be a static system of belief now – is faulty. Back then, Jesus was in the process of revealing Himself. Why should we compare ourselves to (and try to act in the mindset of) the disciples who were watching the Jesus story unfold? We already know how it ends!

        I find your logic kind of absurd if you want to know the truth. I do mean that in the nicest way possible though, if that helps!

      • Bill Samuel February 18, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

        I agree, Ron. David, I don’t think our situation is quite as different as you do. I think there’s a lot we don’t understand. We have a human temptation to construct in our minds a logical understanding of it all. But these logical treatments never capture the full essence. The essence is in relationship, not in a logical formulation.

        Doctrines can be helpful windows into the truth. But we need to be careful to be clear that they are NOT the Truth. Jesus Christ is the Truth. Doctrines can shed some light on Him, but they are always imperfect and we need a great deal of humility when making doctrinal statements. Doctrines can very easily be harmful. They can create blinders to seeing and hearing Christ because we are relating to Him within our established limitations and Christ is beyond human limitations.

        Nowhere did Jesus indicate that doctrinal purity was essential, or even important. Even if my doctrinal understanding is closer to the mark than yours, it does not necessarily follow than I am closer to Christ than you. Even “heretics” or “unbelievers” are sometimes closer than “believers” – a point implicit in some of Jesus’ stories, such as the parable of the Good Samaritan.

        The danger of trying to put Christ in a box of our own making is a very great one, and one of the main ways we do that is through treating doctrines as something more than they are.

      • David February 18, 2010 at 2:13 pm #


        The story of Jesus has been told. He has revealed just exactly what the Father wanted revealed to us as his children. Of COURSE it’s a journey, and of COURSE it’s more amazing than we could possibly understand.

        As Kevin said (I think), I have changed so much since I first accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior that my viewpoints (and behaviors) are barely recognizable from when I first started.

        But to maintain that it’s all just loose ground, ever open for interpretation, is taking the journey that Christ does invite us on, and blowing it wide open in order to allow for the addition of our own human desires. With all this talk of construction, and capturing the logical essence of it all, you make it sound as if Christ never gave absolutes. He did. He said that He was the only Way to the Father. He said our work is to Believe in Him. And He said that we must carry our cross and follow Him.

        You can explain those truths away all day by saying I’m adhering to unnecessary doctrines, that I’m putting Christ in a box, or that I’m constructing what Christ said out of a world view that has been laid on top of Christianity for thousands of years, but at the end of the day you have to decide whether or not it’s just your personal aversion to those truths that’s driving you to see things that way.

        Regardless, I have thoroughly enjoyed our time together. At this point, I feel like we’ve come to the crux of the matter, and I don’t think I need to say anymore.

        God Bless!


      • ron cole February 18, 2010 at 4:24 pm #

        Hi again David. I didn’t exactly know where to weave this into the thread of conversation. So, I guess here is as good as anywhere. Thank you David for the compliment on the absurdity of my thinking…and I say that in the nicest way. Really!!!

        Anyways, I’d like to open this up to everyone. I consider myself to be a follower of Jesus. I try to live my life, in and out of who he is. A focal point of my daily living comes out of…

        ” It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.”

        That is a ” reality ” in with I try and orbit my life around. I am involved in 3 ministries, I’m not boasting…just trying to lay the ground work of my faith. I’m involved in the Rainbow Kitchen that feeds the inner cities addicted, homeless…and working poor. I’m involved in First Nations Aboriginal community working with youth at risks. And, lastly a with Carts, a front line ministry on the inner city streets, working with the cities most marginalized. I have seen Jesus profoundly present in all those places. But here lies the crux of my dilemma.

        There are some theological theories that I don’t believe in. So, I guess when I read your comments…should I even be calling myself a ” Christian “. Or am I something else.

        I wonder what overs think? Interesting that for hundreds of years the church thought slavery was biblical OK, and the world was flat…people were killed for saying different. Just as the world was flat, why can’t we perceive the possibility that there might be curves in our theology.

        Grace, Peace…and in the radical scandalous Love of Jesus,
        Blessings…Ron Cole+

        I suspect the reality is we’ll have to agree to disagree. I’m not going to change your thinking, nor you mine. But, I think ” in Christ ” there is room for the both of us. Maybe not in the church…but in Jesus…

        “He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.”

    • David February 18, 2010 at 4:53 pm #


      I know I said I was done, but I can’t help but notice my agreement with your statements of faith. Especially:

      “It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

      I do not find salvation in doctrine, nor should any man. Our salvation does not come from having the purest of beliefs, it comes from having “faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me!” as you so aptly quoted. I’m sure there are many men who intellectually adhere to the most stringent of truths laid out in the Bible, yet are spiritually dead because their faith has not been put in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

      The question however, is how do we respond when people like McLaren introduce false teachings into the Body? That’s where I begin to react in a not-so-pleasant way, because the doors begin to open up for wishy-washy-ness to come in and infiltrate the body of Christ. The only thing I can do at that point, is to show what Scripture says about Christ’s death, his standing as the only road to salvation, the authority of God’s Word, and try to refute those lies with Biblical Truth. The typical response at that point is to stop putting “Christ in a box” and being a “doctrine cop”.

      There are some theological theories I don’t believe in as well. For starters, I am struggling to understand limited atonement. Regardless, the point is not that you MUST believe in all of these particular doctrines, otherwise you are not a true believer or “part of the club”. Rather, the point is, when people come and try to undermine the Truth by spreading lies, we must refer back to the Truth to expose those lies. This inevitably begins a discussion about those truths, and people like you get the impression that all people like me care about is believing in doctrines, rules and theological speculations.

      You’re right. It’s all about Jesus! But in the face of lies like McLaren’s being poured out, we have to ask what we really believe about Jesus, and either stand up for the Truth or be persuaded by the lies! Unfortunately, that always will appear to people on the outside of the debate (and sadly people inside the debate as well) as “clinging to a doctrine” or “not being open-minded” enough.

  12. Carl McColman February 17, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    David, you’re right, I was predisposed to agree with McLaren before I cracked open his newest book. Like all people, I am to some extent a prisoner of my own prejudices. Also like most thoughtful people, I try to remain at least somewhat suspicious of my own capacity for error, and therefore am always interested to hear what those whose views differ from my own have to say. Obviously, when reading someone with whom I suspect I disagree, I must exercise a measure of discernment to make sure that I neither A) dismissively reject the other position even if it has merit, or B) uncritically accept an argument merely on the strength of how eloquently it is presented. The key word here is discernment. As I said above, I believe it is a fair Biblical principle to “judge a tree by the fruit it bears.” When those who seek to critique McLaren do so reflexively out of anger, contempt, or perhaps even hysteria, I find that considering the tone of their argument is usually all the discernment I need to do.
    I would encourage folks like yourself who seek a vigorous debate of the merits and defects of McLaren’s ideas to begin with a basic assumption of good faith on his (our) part and a sterling commitment to good faith on your own part. As Meister Eckhart said, “I am able to be in error, but I cannot be a heretic, for the first belongs to the intellect, the second to the will.” Even if you suspect bad faith on your opponent’s part, attacking him (or her) rather than merely critiquing the position will, in the end, serve his cause rather than your own. Just some food for thought.

    • David February 17, 2010 at 9:01 pm #


      I agree that the key word is discernment. I’ve been reading a lot about McLaren and some other E/C folk out there for a few months now. Immediately it enraged me to see people pulling apart the fabric of the truth, preferring something that is more palatable for the masses, something that is more relevant to modern society, and something that is less exclusive (and less seemingly archaic).

      I did a lot of reading, because it helps none at all to shoot off at the mouth in a half-cocked fashion without the facts, attacking only byte-sized portions of what a new “Christian leader” says. It’s better to sit back and listen, reflect on the whole statement of faith (because everything is a statement of faith), and then react. This was my good faith assumption on the part of McLaren.

      I’ll admit, I haven’t been as thorough as I could have, and I’m still learning. But from everything I’ve seen come from McLaren, it is not Christianity (for my reasons why, we could begin with my dialog with Bill about substitutionary atonement). Truth is, I’m angry about the Truth being sloshed through the mud in the midst of McLaren’s spiritual journey. That’s why I posted in this forum in the first place.

  13. Dave H February 17, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    I’d like to offer this note to those who are offended by McLaren’s ideas, or disagree with them, or would like to vigorously engage them in dialogue:

    If you are cruel, if you take cheap shots, if you don’t exhibit love and grace, if your hyperbole is mean, if your attacks are personal, if you unfairly caricature rather than accurately and carefully quote, if you find the weakest part of McLaren’s arguments and exaggerate them to draw broad generalizations about all of his ideas…

    … I can’t consider any of your critique worth my time. I just can’t hear you clearly.

    In defending a faith based on love, if you don’t show love, you become a joke to me. Yes, I would probably laugh at you.

    You can’t do anything to make yourself heard by me or be taken seriously in your defense of the Christianity you love unless you give me fair and honest reason to believe you love Brian McLaren.

    In other words, if you want to tell me about the Truth, you should know up front that I don’t believe there exists any Truth separated from Love.

    This is what you’re up against.I hope this is helpful to those who want to preach to anyone other than their own choir. Maybe you don’t care about me. That’s cool, I don’t know that I’m all that great or special. But if you’re interested in inviting me to reconsider my response to McLaren’s book (I am enthusiastically supportive and grateful) I feel I owe it to you to let you know what it is going to take to get through to me.

    I’m not trying to control the debate, I’m simply trying to offer an accurate description of where I’m at. I’ve tried to be impressed by sharp and cutting rhetoric, by separating Christian ideas from human lives. I’m simply unable to do it.

    You (or even I) may not like it, but this is my most honest assessment of the way it is.



    • David February 17, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

      Dave, I absolutely agree! Amen!

      I also absolutely disagree with what McLaren is saying! Although I think I’ve done that in a logical, non-personal way.

      I also agree with most of the following statement:

      “If you are cruel, if you take cheap shots, if you don’t exhibit love and grace, if your hyperbole is mean, if your attacks are personal, if you unfairly caricature rather than accurately and carefully quote, if you find the weakest part of McLaren’s arguments and exaggerate them to draw broad generalizations about all of his ideas…I can’t consider any of your critique worth my time.”

      The only thing I would modify about that is perhaps someone discussing this topic could misquote unwittingly. Maybe their wires have been crossed unbeknownst to them. I would suggest that at that point, you should try to hear them.

      All in all though, I agree. Although the cruel, cheap-shot-taking, mean, personal nay-sayers may be speaking truth and accurately defending the faith, the manner in which they do it DOES make them a joke in the eyes of a God who calls us to bless those who curse us and love those who hate us.

      But allow me to reiterate…although it may prevent you from HEARING them, it doesn’t change the fact that they could be right! (and some of them are!).


  14. Rachael February 17, 2010 at 7:39 pm #

    I like Brian McLaren, but he is not my “guru” and the chances are, most of us who like him are not “groupies.” I’ve been reading a lot of slanders and misrepresentations of Mr. McLaren’s person over the past week. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

    I don’t agree with everything he says in this latest book, but this isn’t “new Christianity” (something which he does make clear), it’s actually rather old, and I believe, we could use more of it.

  15. brambonius February 17, 2010 at 9:01 pm #

    Everybody who thinks that Brian Mc is a liberal has never encoutered real liberal theology. Even the catholic priest in my grandmothers parish, someone in whom I can feel the Spirit and the Heart of Jesus for the lost is way more ‘liberal’ than BDM…

  16. Dena Brehm February 18, 2010 at 3:13 am #

    Dave H — I found your comment to be brilliant.


    Shalom, Dena

    P.S. May I steal it, with credit?

  17. Dena Brehm February 18, 2010 at 3:15 am #

    More brilliance, this time from Kevin (from whom I’ve come to expect brilliance!):

    “I start with “Love God, and love others.” The rest — as they say — is commentary. ”


  18. Chad Holtz February 18, 2010 at 3:49 am #

    Dave H –


  19. nic paton February 18, 2010 at 10:19 am #

    Mike – a well hosted debate. I still await my copy of the book, but glad you are engaged in the inevitable hubris, hosting, lurking, parrying, holding.

    And thanks for taking the time to suggest those deconstructions.

  20. Dena Brehm February 18, 2010 at 7:20 pm #

    What if the “much more” that Jesus had for them (which he said they couldn’t yet bear), also applies to us…?

    What if there’s still MUCH more for us to see and experience … and what if imagining that we already have the “full picture” (i.e., that we already see “all truth”), actually *prevents* us from allowing the Spirit to lead us into all truth…?

    AISI, this journey is endless … to think that the Truth of God could be grasped while I’m constrained with a limitied/finine mind, is unfathomable. And silly. And who would *want* a God who could be understood by humans…?

    I expect this journey to continue to fold, and perhaps even never to end … how exciting! how marvelous! how NON-boring…!

    My prayer is that I can and will increase my “bearability” … as I do not want to let what I think I believe get in the way of whatever He has for me to receive …!

    Shalom, Dena

    • David February 18, 2010 at 8:53 pm #

      Can what is left to be unfolded contradict what has already been unfolded? If one moment in Biblical history Christ is said to be it – the only way to experience God and receive his forgiveness – and the next moment in church history, all of that has been washed away as some kind of metaphor for “all paths really lead to God, Christ is just one of them”, then is that really a further unfolding? Or is it a complete contradiction?

      Not saying that’s what you’re saying, but I’m just throwing it out there. It is, however, what McLaren is saying since he tells us to find God in the other instead of trying to force them into our religious view. How he reconciles that viewpoint into what Christ says about preaching the Gospel to the nations boggles my mind. Evangelism, which is what we are called to do (which means both speaking the Gospel and living the Gospel), cannot be what Christ described it as, if we are supposed to agree that all other “religions” have the same kind of access to the truth that we do.

      Should I anticipate a new definition of “preach the Gospel” forthcoming?

  21. Dena Brehm February 18, 2010 at 7:24 pm #

    LOL! I meant to say, “I expect this journey to continue to UNfold” but if it folds, that’s OK too..!

    But – no creasing, mutilating or spindling.

    Can’t stand it when the journey spindles…!

  22. Dena Brehm February 18, 2010 at 9:26 pm #

    Hey David!

    You wrote: “Can what is left to be unfolded contradict what has already been unfolded?”

    Dena says: Sure, if we see that what was previously stated/understood was merely a tradition of man (egoic perspective) rather than of God (Spirit perspective). For me, this has occurred several times … as if God had to shake me out of what I thought I knew, in order for me to see the “much more.” Very unsettling. “We turn to God when our foundations are shaking, only to discover that it’s God who’s shaking them.” God has throughly mucked up my theology. Wheeeee!

    You said: “If one moment in Biblical history Christ is said to be it – the only way to experience God and receive his forgiveness – and the next moment in church history, all of that has been washed away as some kind of metaphor for “all paths really lead to God, Christ is just one of them”, then is that really a further unfolding? Or is it a complete contradiction?”

    Dena says: What if we misunderstood what Jesus said/meant? Would you want to know? Would you be willing to inquire of the Spirit? I do notice that the scripture says, “God leads me on pathS (plural) of righteousness.” What if God really does go down ANY path to meet us, and to draw every man to Himself? What if God *meant* that?

    You said: Not saying that’s what you’re saying, but I’m just throwing it out there. It is, however, what McLaren is saying since he tells us to find God in the other instead of trying to force them into our religious view.

    Dena says: Kudos to Brian for saying so! What *else* do we imagine is enlivening the “other” human, but the very life of God? How do we somehow imagine that there is another Source of Life in the universe BUT God? What do we think is sustaining us “prior” to “the Spirit entering us”? What if that’s more metaphor than ontology?

    You said: How he reconciles that viewpoint into what Christ says about preaching the Gospel to the nations boggles my mind. Evangelism, which is what we are called to do (which means both speaking the Gospel and living the Gospel), cannot be what Christ described it as, if we are supposed to agree that all other “religions” have the same kind of access to the truth that we do.

    Dena says: I notice that Jesus said that they wouldn’t finish sharing the gospel in all the towns just within Israel, before the Parousia (His return). Do you imagine that there are some towns still left out? (& did you catch how Jesus said that until *all* prophecies about him were fulfilled, we’d remain under the Law?) I see that the “great commission” was fulfilled (& Paul says that it “has been fulfilled” 5 times in his letters!*) … because the “world” spoken of is the land of the Jews … and the warning was of what came down in 70AD. And the gospel is something *other* than “you must accept that Jesus died in your place on the cross, so that you can be reconciled to God and go to heaven, and escape hell.” Because, as I notice in the scriptures, Jesus was declaring folks *saved*, and was telling the disciples to spread the gospel *prior* to His crucifixion and resurrection. So, whatever the gospel/saved meant (at least to Jesus), it doesn’t mean what we think it means, today.

    You said: Should I anticipate a new definition of “preach the Gospel” forthcoming?

    Dena says: Bingo. Yeah — we need a new gospel all right (the one we think we’ve got has caused enough anguish). Something like, “We are all One. Ours is not a better (or only) way, but ours is just another way.”

    Or, “Nobody’s in trouble.”

    I see that God leads us on pathS of righteousness …

    I do absotively trust God to lead all wo/mankind to God.

    And … I notice that all truths are first perceived to be “blasphemies.” 🙂

    Shalom, Dena

    * See here, if you don’t believe me:

  23. ron cole February 18, 2010 at 9:32 pm #

    Ok, I’m suspicious…is David, really Mike Morrell. You know like his alter-ego, his split personality. David you inhabit this space more than Mike, that’s not a bad think. I enjoy the conversation. But, I just have this nagging suspicion, Hmmmmm…

  24. David February 19, 2010 at 4:55 pm #


    1. You’re response to my question “Can what is left to be unfolded contradict what has already been unfolded?” was: “Sure, if we see that what was previously stated/understood was merely a tradition of man (egoic perspective) rather than of God (Spirit perspective)”.

    Your logic makes sense (i.e. Yes it can appear to contradict, but that’s only because we never really understood in the first place) outside of the scope of this discussion. But I haven’t seen any convincing reasons to point to the fact that we never really understood in the first place, which would mean your efforts to look for further unfoldings is an effort to add/change/delete something that pure, good and holy. Sure the church has mucked up quite a bit (especially in allowing the salvation-by-works doctrines of catholicism to overshadow the Gospel for centuries). But I hope you have good reason to negate the entire teachings of Paul, Peter, Stephen and all of the other men who died for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in order to replace it with these new ‘unfoldings’ other than just the novelty of this tripartite view of ‘church’ history.

    2. You said “What if we misunderstood what Jesus said/meant? Would you want to know? Would you be willing to inquire of the Spirit? I do notice that the scripture says, “God leads me on pathS (plural) of righteousness.” What if God really does go down ANY path to meet us, and to draw every man to Himself?”

    Here you are using the word misunderstand as if it’s some kind of friendly, Jesus-punching-me-on-the-shoulder sort of mishap. But what you are saying he said, and what he actually said, does not fit the recognized definition of a misunderstanding. You are simultaneously changing the meaning of what he said, telling us we should be “ok” with that, because it’s all just one big misunderstanding, and then chiding us because we’re not open-minded enough to accept that in one fell-swoop. You’re masking an entire upheaval of Christianity in some kind of intellectual fog, implying that you can see what has been wrong with Christianity for thousands of years because of your newfound willingness to “let go of boundaries” and a “willingness to inquire of the Spirit”.

    Regardless of all of those fancy terms, it’s a new Gospel, and not the one that the men in the NT died for. Plain and simple.

    3. In response to my statement about McLaren telling us to find God in the other instead of trying to force them into the view of Christ as the ONLY Savior, you said: “Kudos to Brian for saying so! What *else* do we imagine is enlivening the “other” human, but the very life of God? How do we somehow imagine that there is another Source of Life in the universe BUT God? What do we think is sustaining us “prior” to “the Spirit entering us”? What if that’s more metaphor than ontology?

    You’re equating salvation with life. God sustains all creatures (Job 12:10, Psalm 104:10-14). He also gives them free will (within the inexplicable relationship of his own sovereignty: Deuteronomy 30:15, Romans 8:28) That said, regardless of whether a human being chooses to worship, recognize or even acknowledge Him or not, doesn’t preclude that human being’s ability to exist. Where in the world did that logic come from? Furthermore, what is this talk about “enlivening the other”? I have a feeling you are using purposefully ambiguous words. God sustains all things – both his children, and those who reject him. Can you not recall the hundreds, if not thousands, of references to the enemies of God in the Bible. Were they not somehow sustained regardless of their faith position?

    I gather you will be discussing the loaded term “enlivening” in your response?

    4. I said: “Evangelism, which is what we are called to do (which means both speaking the Gospel and living the Gospel), cannot be what Christ described it as, if we are supposed to agree that all other ‘religions’ have the same kind of access to the truth that we do.

    Your response was twofold. First made the point that the Great Commission has been fulfilled. This is a common argument against preaching the Gospel, founded in a particularly liberal interpretation of Mark 16:20, Colossians 1:23 and Romans 16:26 and a few others. Essentially the argument goes something like this. The apostles were writing that the Gospels were being preached “everywhere”, “to all creatures” and “to all nations” therefore the work is done. This is a bit of some tricky logic because it ignores the fact that in the ensuing passages, those very same apostles discuss the further work they were doing to preach the Gospels! But let’s suppose that the true intention of the Gospel and Epistle writers WAS to indicate that the work was completed (which is such a long shot, and a very silly proposition), how does that possibly mean that the Gospel has changed from something other than Jesus Christ being the only way to salvation?

    Which leads into your second point: That the Gospel is not just believing in Christ, which you support by saying that Jesus declared people saved before He died, so therefore the Gospel cannot just be be “believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of your sins”. Again, this is intellectual backflippery. You are saying that the Gospel that was clearly preached in the NT in hundreds of places by the Apostles is negated because Christ announced that a few people would enter the Kingdom of God prior to His death. First and foremost, He is God. He can declare people to be righteous, saved or whatever whenever He wishes, just as God can choose Elijah to never meet death. Furthermore, in the midst of the Law being simultaneously overthrown and made complete in Christ, I would imagine that people whose lives overlapped that time period could enter the kingdom of God either by fulfilling the Law or believing in Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I don’t know how it all works, and my speculations are just speculation, but your argument does not hold muster. I wish Spock existed, because I’d invite him to this conversation and ask him to rate your logic. Especially considering:

    “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel, which I preached unto you, which ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved,… For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

    5. You said: “Yeah — we need a new gospel all right (the one we think we’ve got has caused enough anguish). Something like, “We are all One. Ours is not a better (or only) way, but ours is just another way.”

    This is exactly why Christians are paying such close attention to this movement, and to folks like Brian McLaren. Because underneath all of the pondering, speculating and paradigm-shifting, what you’ve just said is at the heart of everything. “We need a new Gospel. We are all One, ours is not a better way, but ours is just another way.” You have indeed revealed that you are a friend of the world and no friend of Christ’s.

    “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” Galatians 1:9″.


  25. David February 19, 2010 at 5:33 pm #

    Also, I am not Mike Morell.

  26. Dena Brehm February 19, 2010 at 10:54 pm #

    Hey again, David.

    Yeah, I knew you werern’t Mike. 😉 He wouldn’t be asking me these questions.

    As for answering them, and fully engaging in this conversation, I’m unable to do so as deeply as I’d like (this is right up my alley!) … as I’ve got just 2 weeks to prepare for an art show (yikes!). I find that I’m addicted to my own high levels of adrenaline in order to produce art … so I seem compelled to torment myself with procrastination (my way of risk-taking — fewer casualties than with sky-diving).

    So! I’ll have to keept this brief …

    1. I do not negate the scriptures, nor anyone who wrote them. I seek to understand them from their original intent. I desire for the Spirit to lead me into all truth, and to show me the meaning of all things, including the scriptures. I do not believe that I can get the real meaning if I insist upon a Western/literal/surface interpretation. YMMV.

    2. I no longer believe that Christianity was Jesus’ intent. I see all religions as manmade. I see that they do indeed “bind” us. I see that the “Christian life” (which Jesus never mentions) actually gets in the way of us experiencing the Abundant Life (which He came to show/give us). I believe that part of what Jesus came to set us free from, is religion … as well as anything else that overtly or covertly enslaves us. Mostly, I see that He came to set us free from the lies we believe (most of which we don’t realize are lies). I want truth at all cost. And it has been costly. Again, YMMV.

    3. Yes, I equate salvation with life. I see that’s the point. Being an “enemy” of God is the human/egoic perspective — not the perspective of God. I see that Paul also endorses this opinion, “you were enemies of God in your minds.” I believe we need our minds renewed, to think as God thinks (for we *have* the Mind of Christ – we just prefer to employ the ego for our thinking) … and we also need eyes to see, and years to hear.

    I’m not trying to be ambiguous … ’tis a waste of time. I’m a busy mom with 8 kids that I unschool at home … I’m an artist with a series of looming deadlines … I blog prolifically and daily … I make time to chase my husband … I have a large house to maintain … I get a couple hundred emails per day … I have several discussion lists I attempt to keep up with. I have no time to be obscure in my writing — I mean to convey my thoughts with clarity.

    As for “enlivened” … I no longer believe that when the Spirit “comes into us” that it’s a literal phrase … it’s not as if I didn’t have the Spirit in me before — it’s that I wasn’t AWARE of the Spirit in me before. What else do I think I am, but Spirit? There is only One Spirit … God manifests in all that is. Yes, this is Panentheism (not to be confused with pantheism, for God is *more* than all we see). In Him we live and move and have our being … we are ALL God’s offspring. Some are aware/awake to this reality, and some are unaware/unawake to this reality. We can all awaken, and discover who God really is, and thus who we really are. And to finally realize that we (all humans) are One. Knowing that would change everything — but only everything…!

    (see what happens once I start engaging … I can’t stop, LOL!)

    4. I sent you a link. It’s posted above. Did you read it? I don’t have time to rehash it here… it’s clear, and concise, and uses all manner of scripture references to connect the dots. If you don’t choose to read it, that’s fine … but I won’t spoon feed it here. I’m already mama to many (8 IS enough)…! 😉 There it is again — it’s well worth the read (& there’re other articles on that site as well … if you’re so inclined to explore).

    5. If Christianity has long been preaching “another gospel” would you want to know….?

    It’s entirely above your pay-grade to determine whether I, or Brian, or Mike, or anyone else, is a friend of Christ’s. 🙂 As Jesus said to Peter, “What’s that to you? You follow Me.”

    IF you’re truly curious about what I believe and why (vs. just wanting to peg/label/dismiss me), I invite you to peruse my blog … there’s no shortage of “amunition” there, if you want to use something I say against me. You could surprise yourself by discovering that I’m really a nice person, who’s a lot of fun to know. I’ve certainly enjoyed discovering this about me…! 🙂 Starting with that post (and continuing in the next 3), I unpack what I shared at a conference recently, in Texas. If you make it through those, you can reward yourself with the following blog post — which includes a video of my husband and I on the “Mike and Juliet” show, in NYC … sharing about how God healed our sex life, and our marriage. It’s fun. And contagious.

    Shalom, Dena

    • David May 24, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

      Three months later, I’ve re-stumbled upon this posting and reread our tete-a-tete. I notice you did an outstanding job avoiding all the difficult corners you backed yourself into by redirecting attention to your blog. If you can’t answer the simple (logical-next-step) questions that your faith statements bring, how can you be confident in your faith and claim to “engage in the conversation”?

      The questions I asked were quite simple and to the point. Your responses were “Go to my blog” and “I’ve said all this before.”

      So sorry to waste your time poking holes in your logic Dena! Next time, instead of engaging with you in discussion, I’ll just redirect you to Gruden’s Systematic Theology since “this has all been said before”.

      Brilliant escape mademoiselle.

      • zoecarnate May 24, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

        C’mon, bro, sometimes life interferes with our blog-commenting. It’s probably nothing personal. 🙂

      • David May 24, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

        Hey Zoe – I appreciate your effort to keep it friendly (and by no means do I intend to “take out the guns”), but after re-reading that whole back-and-forth, I can’t help but feel like Dena made her way out of some very pointed questions quite smoothly.

        As for “life getting in the way of blogging”, this is what Dena does (so c’mon yourself homie)! I don’t have a blog. This commenting bit is not the standard curriculum for me – rather it’s extracurricular. I think for Dena, it’s the other way around. So if anybody were to make that excuse, it should be me (from my office!)

        That being said, I’m down to “have the conversation” – but I expect everyone else to be as well. Now if someone is asking a general question about what I think about such-and-such, then sure I’ll pass them a pdf of something I wrote on the topic back in the day. But when we’re five or six threads deep into a conversation, it’s more of a copout than anything else.

        Being down for “the conversation” also means talking through it when it gets hairy and not copping out. And it shouldn’t just be excused with having a “busy life”. We all got that going on…

      • Jeff S. May 26, 2010 at 6:02 pm #

        And where have YOU been the last three months, David? I found her response to be appropriate and, if you had read her post, you would have understood why your theology “differs” from hers. I think what frustrates us is that conservative Christians tend to see everything in either/or, black/white, right/wrong (separation) and progressive/emerging Christians are seeing things in both/and (integration). Neither side is really seeing the world through the same lens, and it gets frustrating.

        These “spiral dynamics” charts are helpful to me in understanding why there is a “dis-connect” in some of these conversations:×11.pdf

      • Dena Lynn July 28, 2019 at 2:22 pm #

        Ahhh … 9 years later, I just so happened to find this blog again, quite accidentally, having forgotten ALL about it.

        So, David, my apologies for not replying. In the months following this former long-ago conversation, I experienced the ending/leaving of my 25 year marriage, and the end of life as I then-knew it. I was a wee bit sidetracked.

        I would assume (& hope) that life has taken you in deeper and higher directions than you were once in, 9 years ago.

        I am now, no longer a christian – I shed that within the rest of 2010, after I came to see that humans had *never* been separated from the Source of All Life, and thus had never required a savior. That Yeshua (what his mama called him) never claimed to be a savior, and, in fact, wanted all of us to wake up to our own innate human/divine natures, “are you not all gods?”

        I’m now quite spiritually promiscuous, with an exhibitionist soul. 😉

        I’ve been trained as a shaman, and my perspective would be a hybrid of pantheism (god is all) and panentheism (god is IN all) … but without the word “god” (due to its heavily-laden connotations).

        As always, your mileage may vary.

        As always, and in all ways, I wish all every benevolence.


  27. Mary Perry-McCormick February 19, 2010 at 11:40 pm #

    Bless your heart, Mike, for braving these icy cold waters… eloquently. These reactions to McLaren’s latest book point out the fact that this “conversation” is going to continue to be a heated one.
    Dena, you are on the money with your train of thought.
    David, Mark 12:28-31 says One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”… Jesus continually reveals himself in spite of Brian’s book or because of it.
    His blessings to all…

  28. brambonius February 20, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

    So does McClaren teach in his new book that we’re already living in the new heavens and the new earth, or is this hyperpreterism discussion offtopic?

  29. zoecarnate February 20, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

    I know we tend to apply ‘hyper’ to the things we don’t like (I do it too)…Brian actually critiques all of our current categories for eschatology, including preterism. He then examines Parousia in it’s more literal sense – the presence of Christ – rather than the unbiblical term ‘second coming.’ And he does, indeed, reexamine the apocalyptic depictions of the new heavens and earth, particularly in Isaiah, where the new earth is describes as a place where people live long lives and have good jobs – an amazing world, but not some platonic ideal where people never die.

    I don’t want to put words in Brian’s mouth, but his depiction of ‘participatory eschatology’ reminds me of my friend Kevin Beck’s, which he outlines in This Book Will Change Your World, which is a free eBook! I’d be very interested in what you think about it actually.

  30. Dena Brehm February 20, 2010 at 7:29 pm #

    Excellent perspective, Mike … in fact, I find it hyper-good…!

    Shalom & Namaste ~

  31. Dena Brehm February 20, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

    Mary — your voice is like a refreshing drink of cool water … may it overflow and slosh on all by-standers … may we become soggy with such liquid love …!

    And may we all finally, *Finally!* realize that Love is far more powerful than fear could ever pretend to be…!

    Shalom & Namaste ~

    P.S. Mary — do you share your thoughts elsewhere online…?

  32. Dena Brehm February 21, 2010 at 7:10 pm #

    Ha! Your world is my world!

    Why am I not surprised…?

    Yes, we must schmooze …!

    Will you be attending the Presence conference in Little Rock this year…? I canNOT wait!!! Dragging as many of our 8 kids as we can this year … our 3rd hear. I’m a wide-eyed-in-wonder-woman!

    (likely with latent super-powers…)

    Do you have images of your art online?

    Mine are here:

    (sorry to take over your blog-post, Mike … we gotta schmooze and connect where we can)

    You may now return to your discussion of Brian and his Brilliant Bestowals…!

    • Dena Brehm February 21, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

      I meant third *year*. But hear works, too.

      Reminds me of something I stumbled upon this morning:

      “Stillness is the language God speaks, and everything else is a bad translation.”

  33. jeffcstraka March 6, 2010 at 11:08 pm #

    Worth a listen:


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