Sunday, December 27, 2009

Brian McLaren & David G. Benner -- "We Haven't Got the Gospel Right Yet"

From my proposed chapter on the Emergent Church, "Emergen[t]cy: Investigating Postmodernism":

In that same Christianity Today article, Brian McLaren is quoted as saying that he does not “think we’ve got the gospel right yet.... I don’t think the liberals have it right.[1] But I don’t think we have it right either. None of us has arrived at orthodoxy.”[2] [3] Agreeing apparently with Brian McLaren that we have yet to get the gospel right is David G. Benner, who says that the “spiritual climate is ripe... [for]... Jesus seekers across the world are being prepared to abandon the old way of the written code for the new way of the Spirit. Paul told us long ago we've been freed by the gospel to live a new way, but we've not known what it is or how to do it.”[4] McLaren says we do not have the Gospel right yet... Benner says we do not have it right either, yet, we should look to Eastern mysticism to get it correct? I don’t think so.

[1] While these authors and pastors try not to be labeled as “liberal,” that is exactly what they are. In an interview with Rob Bell (audio of which can be found at Fighting for the Faith... right around forty minutes into the program) where he is praising the TNIV -- a gender neutered Bible -- Rob himself says he is in the middle of the progressive movement: “My name is Rob Bell, I’m a pastor in Grand Rapids Michigan, the epicenter of progressive culture.” (Listen Here:)
    This can also be found as well under iTunes free podcasts under Fighting for the Faith, dated at 9-1-09, the podcast is titled, “What is Rob Bell Going To Do Now That The TNIV is Going to Be Discontinued?” One of the founders of the emergent movement, Mark Driscoll notes as much as well:

    Emergent liberals range from those on the theological fringe of orthodoxy to those caught up in heresy that critiques key evangelical doctrines, such as the Bible as authoritative divine revelation; God as Trinity; the sinfulness of human nature; the deity of Jesus Christ; Jesus' death in our place to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross; the exclusivity of Jesus for salvation; the sinfulness of homosexuality and other sex outside of heterosexual marriage; and the conscious, eternal torments of hell. Some emerging house churches are also emergent liberal in their doctrine. Emergent liberals are networked by organizations such as the Emergent Village, which is led by author and theologian Tony Jones (Jones is no longer a youth pastor but is involved at Doug Pagitt's church), along with other prominent emergent leaders such as Pagitt, Karen Ward, and Tim Keel. The most visible emergent liberal leaders are Brian McLaren and Rob Bell. Emergent liberals are commonly critiqued as those who are merely recycling the liberal doctrinal debates of a previous generation without seeing significant conversion growth; they are merely gathering disgruntled Christians and people intrigued by false doctrine. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, offers this critique:

    When it comes to issues such as the exclusivity of the gospel, the identity of Jesus Christ as both fully human and fully divine, the authoritative character of Scripture as written revelation, and the clear teachings of Scripture concerning issues such as homosexuality, this [emergent liberal] movement simply refuses to answer the questions."

    Religion Saves + Nine Other Misconceptions, 217.

    [2] Andy Crouch, “Emergent Mystique,” 37-38.

    [3] A caveat here: if he does not think liberals have it right, and then says he does not have it right either... is he then saying he is on the conservative side of the issue? If he is on the right, then where does that leave people like D. A. Carson, Millard Erickson, or myself? I guess I do not fit within what he considers orthodox... maybe we’re “fascists” of sorts?

    [4] David G. Benner, Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 9 (emphasis added).