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Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church/
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Brian-McLaren
 

Brian McLaren... What Christianity Has Come To

Part VII... McLaren And The Bible

Carol Brooks

INDEX TO ALL EIGHT SECTIONS

Foreword and Introduction: Why Brian McLaren in particular? Who is Brian McLaren?...Short Bio. Index to sections

 Part I...The Secret Message of Jesus: Overview The "secret" message... isn't such a big secret. The New Testament emphasis on doing good works to "the brethren". Do modern day Christians get it?

Part II... God's Coming Kingdom: Are God's coming kingdom and the second coming of Christ literal physical events, or are they to be seen in a 'spiritual' sense? What does the Bible say? The dual 'now' and 'then' message of the Kingdom. How McLaren redefines the word "Kingdom, the phrase "Eternal Life", and changes God's "will" to God's "dream" in order to 'prove' his points.

 Part III... A Gospel of Transformation, Evacuation... or Justice? The wrath Of God.The "amazingly subversive" Book Of Jonah. The justice and judgement of God. While there is no question that, as McLaren says.. Jesus will condemn and destroy evil, who or what, according to the Scriptures, is evil? Revelation...example of the "literature of the oppressed", territory of the lunatic fringe, or our only hope. Does God plan to "destroy creation"?

 Part IV... McLaren's All Inclusive Kingdom: God's promise to Abraham... who exactly would be "blessed"? Practicing what he preaches... Brian McLaren and Jewish leaders. Services done to "Tash".... unbelievers saved without explicit faith in Christ. Salvation. Does seeking salvation make a person "self-centered" and "narcissistic"? The Bible's conditions for entrance into the kingdom. Redefining repentance and the word "transgression". Demon worship. What's in a Name? What exactly Is a "Christian"? Did Gandhi seek "to follow the way of Christ"? The inclusiveness AND exclusiveness of Jesus. What determines one's 'status' in the Kingdom? The Pax Christi. Many shall come from the east, and from the west..

Part V... The Lambeth Conference: Three questions asked Brian McLaren after the Lambeth Conference. Should Christianity be seen as a "threat" or "welcome friend" to other religions, and are they caretakers or enemies of the Gospel

 Part VI... Glossing Over the Occult: Occult ceremonies are not harmless 'traditions'. Contemplative spirituality...practices learned learned from a myriad of sources outside of Christianity

    You Are Here 001orange Part VII... McLaren And The Bible: Is the Bible inerrant, infallible, absolute and authoritative, or are Christians resorting to the authority of extra Biblical words and concepts" to justify their own belief in the Bible's ultimate authority? Is the sole purpose of the Scriptures to equip God's people for good works. Seeing the Bible as narrative, does not mean forgetting the all-important meta-narrative. Genesis literal or "deep mythic language"?

Part VIII... Conclusion: God A or God B? Re-writing and sanitizing the Message. Profane babbling. Brian McLaren, the New Age, and the antichrist. Ideas that blends harmoniously with New Age beliefs. McLaren and the "visionaries"

 

ON THIS PAGE

Is The Bible Inerrant, Infallible, Absolute and Authoritative?
Or are Christians resorting to the authority of extra Biblical words and concepts

The Purpose of the Scriptures... More than equipping God's people for good works

Seeing the Bible as Narrative ....Does not Mean Forgetting The All-Important Meta-narrative

Genesis... Literal Or "Deep Mythic Language"

 


Is The Bible Inerrant, Infallible, Absolute and Authoritative?
In the chapter entitled Why I am Biblical , Mclaren states that "the purpose of Scripture is to equip God's people for good works", which simple statement, he says, is far more important than statements with the words foreign to the Bible's vocabulary about itself,

    Interestingly, when Scripture talks about itself, it doesn't use the language we often use in our explanation of its value. For modern Western Christians, words like authority, inerrancy, infallibility, revelation, objective, absolute, and literal are crucial.  [83]

Adding that people are naive not to realize that they are "resorting to the authority of extra Biblical words and concepts" to justify their own belief in the Bible's ultimate authority. But, is this true?

Just as a start, we can knock the word "revelation" off McLaren's list, since the word "revealed" happens to be often used in the context of God revealing information to humans which, prior to the revelation, they did not know. For example

    "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. [Deuteronomy 29:29 NASB]

    in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. [Daniel 9:2 NASB]

    At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, "I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. [Luke 10:21 NASB]

    But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. [Galatians 3:23 NASB]

While the precise words authority, inerrant, infallible, and absolute, are not used in the Bible, it does not mean that these concepts are not present.

Unlike religions that are based entirely on human ideas, thus becoming merely theories or philosophies, Christianity is based on the Bible which Christians accept as their final authority because they believe it to be inspired by God. In fact, the Bible itself claims to be revelation from God Himself. Note the first words of the passage from 2 Timothy that McLaren himself quoted. (which at least proves that the Biblical authors considered the Bible to be not their own opinion, but the Word of God)

    All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. [2 Timothy 3:16-17 NASB]

    But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. [2 Peter 1:20-21 NASB]

We should note that most books tell us who the author is, and that most people are willing to accept this information unless, of course, they have evidence to the contrary. The following examples furnished by Matthew Finlay of bible.org in his article The Authority of the Bible [84] * show that God spoke directly to His prophets "throughout the entire period of Israel's national existence... commencing with Moses and ending with Malachi". The dates are given in round numbers to convey the sense of historical continuity

    God spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:4), about 1500 B.C.

    God spoke to Samuel (1 Samuel 3:11), about 1000 B.C.

    God spoke to Elijah (1 Kings 21:17), about 900 B.C.

    God spoke to Isaiah (2 Kings 20:1), about 700 B.C.

    God spoke to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:2), about 600 B.C.

    God spoke to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:3), about 600 B.C.

    God spoke to Malachi (Malachi 1:1-2), about 400 B.C.

So if God spoke directly to His prophets, who recorded His words. If all Scripture is inspired by God, and no prophecy was ever made "by an act of human will", but by men moved by the Holy Spirit, then we are right to take the Holy Scriptures as "God's Word".

If we think that God is sometimes wrong or mistaken, or that the authors added their own bits and pieces and/or somehow put their own spin in places, and/or wrote down what God told them, but did so from their own perspective, then we have a right to believe that the Bible is not infallible, absolute, inerrant and objective.

However, if we believe that God was the final architect of what was written. If we believe that it was He who drew up the blueprints and ensured that the human authors stayed true to the original, then we are right in using the words infallible, absolute, inerrant and objective to describe the Scriptures, since the words He planned to be a spiritual guide to all humanity cannot be anything but.

The words we use are merely a tool to describe a concept supported by the Bible itself.

There is a great amount of evidence for the reliability of the Bible. Probably far, far more than most people imagine. Additional information is to be found in this section... Why Christianity?


The Purpose of the Scriptures
From everything that the Scriptures purposes for itself, McLaren seems only to have gleaned that it equips God's people for good works [85]. Referring to Paul's letter to Timothy, he makes the following statement.

    The Bible, he (Paul) says, is good for equipping people to do good works.  It does so specifically through teaching (telling you what is true and right), rebuking (helping you see where you've gone wrong), correction (guiding you on how to get on the right track again), and training in justice (educating you in the skills of staying on the right path). [83]

The passage being referred to is in Paul's second letter to Timothy.. chapter 3, verse 16. Not only does McLaren say absolutely nothing about the preceding verse ....

    and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. [2 Timothy 3:15 NASB. Emphasis Added]

But, as usual, he ignores both the immediate and broader contexts, both of which are necessary to understand what exactly Paul was trying to convey to Timothy. Let's look at the immediate context...

    But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. [14] You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, [15] and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  [16]  All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;  [17]  so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. [2 Timothy 3:13-17 NASB. Emphasis Added]

If you read all the verses together, it becomes obvious that Paul was warning Timothy that because evil men and impostors would proliferate, he would be well advised to stick to the things he had learned and was convinced of. Timothy was well versed in the sacred Scriptures, having been familiar with them from the time he was a child. And it was these Scriptures that not only give the wisdom that leads to salvation but, being inspired by God, were the tool Timothy needed, as a church leader, to teach, to reprove, to correct, and to train in righteousness.

Which message fits in perfectly with the broader context. Chapter 3 is merely a continuation of the previous chapter, in which Paul tells Timothy what to preach, how to conduct himself, and what he is to shun. While the best way to understand the overall theme and purpose of this letter, written by Paul to his protégé, is to read all four chapters of the book together, the following verses from chapter 2, show the continuity between chapters 2 and 3.. .

    Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.... The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. [2 Timothy 2:15, 24-26 NASB]

In the first part of chapter 3 (Vs.1-8), Paul reminds Timothy of the great apostasy which come about in the church and, states some of the characteristics of it. (men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God). He adds that they would oppose truth like Jannes and Jambres who opposed Moses, and that vile men and seducers will wax worse and worse, (Vs. 13).

Paul urges Timothy to follow his "teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance" (Vs.10) and to continue in the thing he has learned and become convinced of.

In other words, the overall theme of Paul's second letter to Timothy is to urge him to "constancy, fidelity, and courage" especially in the face of the ever increasing numbers of scoffers and impostors. Timothy is to "accurately handling the word of truth", teach, be patient when wronged, and gently correct those that are in opposition for perhaps they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil.

It is in this context that Paul goes on to say that the entire Bible is profitable (especially necessary for a leader) for four things... teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.


Altering Paul's Instructions
McLaren mentions these four points but subtly alters the meaning of the words. A reminder of what he said in A Generous Orthodoxy

    The Bible, he (Paul) says, is good for equipping people to do good works.  It does so specifically through teaching (telling you what is true and right), rebuking (helping you see where you've gone wrong), correction (guiding you on how to get on the right track again), and training in justice (educating you in the skills of staying on the right path). [83]

which we need to compare with the Greek words used by Paul when he said...

    All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof (elegxis), for correction (epanorthosis), for training in righteousness (dikaiosune); [17] so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. [2 Timothy 3:16-17 NASB.]

Teaching: While there is no argument as to the meaning of the Greek word used, as many passages show, teaching must be in accord with sound doctrine.

    In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. [1 Timothy 4:6 NASB]

    If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, [1 Timothy 6:3 NASB]

    holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute (elegcho) those who contradict. [Titus 1:9 NASB]

    But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Titus 2:1 NASB)

Reproof and Correction: While there is no question that the Scriptures do 'help a person see where they have gone wrong' and get back on the right track, as McLaren says, when one considers the overall context of Paul's letter to Timothy, it is far more likely that he was telling Timothy that it is by the Scriptures that apostates can be rebuked, and corrected (by showing them where their beliefs deviate from the Word of God) . This is substantiated by the fact that Paul used the Greek word elegxis, derived from elegcho, which means to admonish: convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, reprove. 

However, there seems to be no place in McLaren's theology for telling people their fault, rebuking, or correcting anyone.

Training in Righteousness: The Greek word used here is dikaiosune which means righteousness, not justice, as McLaren says. Note the following verses that clearly show righteousness as being opposed to lawlessness and ungodliness. Each pattern of behavior will be 'rewarded' accordingly

    "you have loved righteousness (dikaiosune) and hated lawlessness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your companions." [Hebrews 1:9 NASB]

    and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness (dikaiosune), with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; [2 Peter 2:5 NASB]

    "Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous (dikaios ), still practice righteousness (dikaiosune); and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy." "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. [Revelation 22:11-12 NASB]

By saying "training in justice" means "educating you in the skills of staying on the right path", the entire crucial issue of righteousness is being ignored. How tremendously sad that a so called Christian preacher and author, not only endeavors to make his audience believe that the Greek word used by Paul, means something that it does not, but by doing so, steers his readers away from what Paul was really saying... the Scriptures are for training in "holiness".

The Bible is designed to produce righteousness and ministry, or a life of good works ...

    For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. [Ephesians 2:10 NASB]

and this righteousness is always in the context of conforming us into the image of His Son "so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren".

And why is righteousness crucial? Because we are unambiguously told that without holiness, NO MAN WILL SEE GOD.


Seeing the Bible as Narrative
At the close of the chapter Why I am Biblical, in a his book, A Generous Orthodoxy, McLaren says the problem isn't the Bible, but "our modern assumptions about the Bible and our modern interpretive approaches to it".  He believes that there is "a better way to understand and apply the Bible... A largely new and unexplored way that can be summarized in one sentence...

    "We need to reclaim the Bible as narrative".

He goes on to say

    The Bible is a story, and just because it recounts (by standards of accuracy acceptable to its original audience) what happened, that doesn't mean it tells what should always happen or even what should have happened. [86]

(The word narrative means an account, report, or story, as of events, experiences, etc). It is true that much of the Old Testament is the story of the nation of Israel and the many people who played a prominent role in that history, and the New Testament is the story of Jesus life, followed by an account of the early church. However, identifying the Bible as mere narrative, gives the impression that it is a tapestry woven from the the events and experiences of a large number of people, over the course of many centuries. However, when stories and experiences are related by people who are no longer around to fill in, or clarify any details, they can be interpreted in myriad different ways, which would be justified if there was no "meta-narrative".


Does not Mean Forgetting The All-Important Meta-narrative
A meta-narrative is the underlining and unifying theme or motif, running through all the different stories.... the single story that underlies, and explains, all the smaller stories that could, otherwise, seem unrelated.

Every story was included for a very specific purpose, often relating only those features which conveyed the intended message, or made the intended point (which is why some of them do not provide as much detail as the modern reader is accustomed to). In other words, the many different stories in the Scriptures are only significant as they fit into the larger narrative of Scripture, and in light of their historical context.

However the emerging church has discarded the conventional meta narrative. They acknowledge and accept pluralism, viewing any claim to absolute truth as suspicious. McLaren himself believes the conventional understanding of the gospel meta narrative and the Bible's story line to be "wrong, misguided, and dangerous". [87]

And what is this grand meta-narrative of the Scriptures? It is, as is very accurately summed up by one blogger ... "Creation; Rebellion; Redemption Pursued (and Prophesied); Redemption Accomplished; Re-creation." [88].

In other words, whether whether the emerging church chooses to believe it or not, from cover to cover, the Bible tells a remarkably consistent story about God's plan to restore His Kingdom, entrance to which is reserved for those who have been forgiven their sins, and have been transformed into the image of Christ. It is the story of sin, God's hatred of sin, and resulting judgement of all sin and sinful people. It is also a story of hope... His provision of a way for His justice to be satisfied without condemning the sinner to eternal death, but through Christ, bringing him to eternal life in His kingdom.

For a short time yet, until the last chapter is fulfilled, we are invited to write our own small story and weave it into God's meta narrative


Genesis
in A New Kind of Christianity, McLaren says we have been "brainwashed" to read Genesis through Greco-Roman bifocals, but "these stories aren't intended to be taken literally", but are to be "mined for their rich meaning, because they distill time-tested, multilayered wisdom-through deep mythic language-about how our world came to be what it has become. [89].

It is essential (from McLarens point of view) to deny the literalness of Genesis, simply because should Adam and Eve not be real people, then there is no longer any link between them and Christ which is the basis of the Gospel. We would lose the whole point of Christ taking human form and dying on the cross, and would have to come up with a new meta narrative. As said by Rev Albert Mohler Jr in Adam & Eve: Controversy heats up

    The denial of an historical Adam and Eve as the first parents of all humanity and the solitary first human pair severs the link between Adam and Christ which is so crucial to the Gospel. If we do not know how the story of the Gospel begins, then we do not know what that story means. Make no mistake: a false start to the story produces a false grasp of the Gospel. [89b]

If this is the case then one has to wonder why Paul spoke about Adam as a real person, even a"type" of Christ

    Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. [Romans 5:14 NASB]

    For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. [1 Corinthians 15:22 NASB]

    For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. [1 Timothy 2:13-14 NASB]

And why both Jesus and Peter referred to the flood, without the slightest hint that these stories were non literal. In fact, Jesus compares the suddenness of His Second Coming with how the ancients were caught by surprise by the flood.

    "For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. [Matthew 24:38-39 NASB. Also See Luke 17:27]

    and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; [2 Peter 2:5 NASB]

    For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. [2 Peter 3:5-6 NASB]

Andrew Snelling, director of Research for Answers in Genesis, and perhaps one of the world's leading researchers in flood geology, said that the reliability of the whole Bible depends on Genesis as history. As he says...

    It is impossible to reject the historicity of the book of Genesis without repudiating the authority of the entire Bible. If Genesis is not true, then neither are the testimonies of those prophets and apostles who believed it was true. In the Old Testament, for example, Adam is mentioned in Deuteronomy, Job, and 1 Chronicles, while Noah is mentioned in 1 Chronicles, Isaiah, and Ezekiel. There are at least 100 quotations or direct references to Genesis 1-11 in the New Testament. Furthermore, every one of those eleven chapters is alluded to in the New Testament, and every one of the New Testament authors refers somewhere in his writings to Genesis 1-11.

    In not one of these Old or New Testament references to Genesis is there the slightest evidence that the writers regarded the events as myths or allegories [90]

In fact, Ezekiel put Noah in the same category as the prophet Daniel.

    even though Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, as I live," declares the Lord GOD, "they could not deliver either their son or their daughter. They would deliver only themselves by their righteousness." [Ezekiel 14:20 NASB]


CONTINUE ON TO PART VIII... CONCLUSION: God A or God B? Re-writing and sanitizing the Message. Profane babbling. Brian McLaren, the New Age, and the antichrist. Ideas that blends harmoniously with New Age beliefs. McLaren and the "visionaries"

 

End Notes
All URLs were good at the time of writing (July 2012)

[83] Brian McLaren. A Generous Orthodoxy, Zondervan/Youth Specialties. January 2006 Paperback Edition. Pg. 182-183 Ch. Why I Am Biblical. (Pg 164 of the 2004 Hardcover edition)

[84] Matthew Finlay. Chapter One The Authority of the Bible. http://bible.org/seriespage/chapter-one-authority-bible

[85] Brian McLaren. A Generous Orthodoxy, Zondervan/Youth Specialties. January 2006 Paperback Edition. Pg. 182 and 184. Ch. Why I Am Biblical.  (Pg 164 and 166 of the 2004 Hardcover edition)

[86] ibid. Pg. 185 Ch. Why I Am Biblical. (Pg. 167 of the 2004 Hardcover edition)

[87] Evolution, Adam, Eve, Recycling. http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/evolution-adam-eve-and-al.html

[88] http://savedthroughfaith.com/2010/04/19/biblical-theology-metanarrative/

[89] Brian McLaren. A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith [Hardcover] HarperOne; 1 edition (February 9, 2010)  Pg.48

[89b] R. Albert Mohler Jr. Adam & Eve: Controversy heats up. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=35973. Aug 22, 2011

[90] Andrew A. Snelling, Ph.D. Genesis: Real, Reliable, Historical. Introduction to Earth's Catastrophic Past..Why Take Genesis Seriously? http://www.icr.org/article/genesis-real-reliable-historical

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Brian McLaren, Part 6... Glossing Over the Occult

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