While not a direct transcript, the following post covers the basics of what Brian McLaren spoke about in his second talk at Canadian Mennonite University this February. Some direct quotes are included. Menno-lite ENDNOTES & COMMENTARY, below, sheds some light of truth on the subject.
During McLaren’s second session(1) on Naked Spirituality at the CMU Refreshing Winds Conference, he talked about the here and now, and slowing down to say “we’ve spent the last 500 years converting long term assets that belong to everyone into short term assets that belong to the “upper crust” and it’s time for us to imagine a different way of running our economic lives.”(2)
McLaren also remarked how ‘sneaky’ the Holy Spirit is to inspire the stories that subvert as well as comfort us – an amazing ‘trick’ of the Spirit (in reference to Hagar and Ishmael and how God said “I will make you a great nation” to Ishmael and his descendants).
Then he began to address spirituality, and how important it is for us to turn inwardly and re-examine spirituality. If God is the answer, He is also the problem, if spirituality and religion have solutions, they are the problems. People view spirituality as different than being religious. Organized religion organizes people into “us vs. them.” People who are open to spirituality but not religion don’t want to push spirituality into an afterlife, architecture, or a space, but they want all of their life to be touched with something sacred. They are looking for practices that nourish aliveness and sacredness, a real experience. So here is where we are at an amazing moment, but can our churches help people have those direct experiences of God? McLaren asks a second time…
“Can you introduce non Christians to practices that will deepen their connection with God? I don’t think there’s a good reason to come to church anymore unless you can say yes to that question.” -McLaren [at about 9:30](3)
Beyond stage one of Simplicity is the second stage: Complexity. The motto for this stage is that “There’s more than one way to do things.” Higher education is the portal into this stage, says McLaren, as perception shifts from dualistic to pragmatic. In stage one, everything is knowable, in stage two, everything is doable. (As in, get an ‘A’ on the test, play by the rules of the game, while authorities are the coaches to help you to succeed.) An example of a writer that does that (coach step by step) broke a record in history: the Purpose Driven Life. It has steps and stages, and people in stage one churches were ready for this. Another example McLaren gave was Joel Osteen (Your Best Life Now). In stage two, you are interested in cause, achievement, and independence. You learn “how to study the Bible yourself, lead people to Christ, YOURSELF! “I can do it myself.””(4)
More people are moving into stage two where God is your success guide to what you couldn’t do in church. Complexity is important in this stage where there are the extremely spiritual practices of confession of sin, and the practice of regret. As an example of this, McLaren talked about a movie called The Big Kahuna, which he said was profound and thoughtful but full of F words. A young Christian in the movie named Bob represents ‘stage one.’ They argue about faith and religion as the movie is based on a play where the idea is that the three characters are the same person in three stages of life. The lesson is that when you start to regret the earlier things you’ve done in life, earlier failures are what you now treasure. This, says McLaren, is what’s behind the doctrine of confession of sin.(5)
McLaren did make a few valid points during his talk. For example, we should be holier than we appear to be, rather than trying to appear holier than we are, and that we should be the first to admit the worst about ourselves.(6)
In stage two regret, explained McLaren, we face the fact that “I am a bad guy as well as a good guy.” Likewise, encoded in the book of Genesis, he stated, are the tools of corporate regret setting the precedence – we are both the slave owner and the slave, we have both sides in our history; Abraham owned an Egyptian slave and mistreated her til she was suicidal. The bible is full of individual and ‘social regret,’ he said. We need to come together as people and just say sorry. The Christian religion isn’t there yet…the departure of millions of Christians from the faith over the last century(7)…they are morally ready to be in a place of regret but find unwillingness in the church to express regret over anti-Semetism, anti-Islam(8), anti-environment(9), injustices to Arius (?) and how we treat the one we judge and treat as heretic and so on.(10)
The opposite of defensiveness is expansiveness(11), said McLaren. Ask for help, he suggested; using God to remake the world(12) to match my current abilities is actually a form of magic(13). “I’m asking you to expand my capacity to meet reality, offering myself to be expanded.”
After confession and regret, concluded McLaren, the third word is please, which means intercession, to ask on behalf of others. It’s to say sorry, say help, and please, on behalf of others. Then he led the audience in a moment of silence and in his prayer mentioned that many Egyptians are our cousins (Muslims) and asked, “help other human beings be expanded.”(14)
ENDNOTES & COMMENTARY:
(1) LISTEN HERE:
Friday, February 4, 2011, 9:00am
Plenary: Brian McLaren, Naked Spirituality, Stage 2: Complexity
(2) This statement is just a kind and gentle version of Marxism (redistribution of wealth). What McLaren may or may not realize is that “the conversion of long-term assets (i.e. natural resources ) into short term assets for the upper crust. . . ” is what allows him the luxury of living well in a democratic society while having the freedom to decry the upper crust technology and benefits which he himself is using. Had it not been for the rapid growth of the industrial revolution, McLaren would be in no position to write his lies in books, as there would be no books, and he would have no audience.
As Carl Teichrib says:
“In the social justice framework there is another agenda that lurks behind the tragic: A political/economic cause is piggybacked and leveraged – the cause of economic equality through wealth redistribution. This isn’t about truly helping the victim; it’s about using the victim.
Biblical justice, on the other hand, never seeks to dismantle class structures. Evil actions are condemned, but this isn’t specific to a particular social strata.”
–Social Justice: Theft to All
(3) The church serves a far greater purpose than what McLaren boils it down to. Besides out of love for the brethren and fellowship, Christians come to church to worship God, to hear and learn from the Bible, to exhort, be equipped and sent out for ministry, and to pray for eachother. (See: Why is church attendance important?) We introduce non Christians to God by bringing them to an understanding of their need of a Savior and introducing them to the good news of the gospel, not ‘practices.’ There are no practices that non Christians can ‘do’ that will deepen their connection with God, because they need to come to God through Jesus, who has made the only way possible to do that – John 3:16. People who want spirituality and practices that help make them feel spiritual are choosing religion (traditions of man).
Also, church is for believers. McLaren knows that when unbelievers are brought into church to participate instead of be evangelized, the process of change can begin. There must be antithesis (unbelievers) to oppose the thesis (believers) in order to move towards consensus (compromise) and move believers away from their moral absolutism (resistance to change). [See: What is the Hegelian Dialectic?]
(4) While some Christians may think so, no one leads anyone to Christ by themselves; it is only by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit that anyone comes to saving faith. Jesus said “no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44). Anyone who relies on themselves to lead people to Christ is sadly mistaken.
(5) While McLaren may think it’s appropriate to draw from a movie filled with F words for his teaching on the confession of sin, the biblical doctrine of confession of sin means to repent, turn from your own way and rely on the power and finished work of Christ to save you. In true repentance there is conviction, contrition, and conversion as one turns from his sin to Christ alone for salvation. There is a difference between regrets and repentance. (See: Apologies, Regrets, and True Repentance)
(6) Such authentic holiness and humility is most desirable for any Christian. However, McLaren did not clarify his definition of Holy, which is most likely redefined like everything else he has deconstructed, since his motto is that everything must change.
(7) The ‘departure’ of Christians from the faith is false conversions and those who never were among us, as in the ‘Parable of the Soils’, and those who departed from Jesus when He talked of His blood. (“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” 1 John 2:19) It’s not about regrets of the culture-borne heresies and man made traditions of the church.
(8) Comment by a friend of the olives: Anti-Semitism was a theological heresy in the church borne of false doctrine (one which McLaren carries himself in his anti-Israel stance). Anti-Semitism is part of the basic theology of Islam (which they, by the way, don’t regret at all); “anti-Islam” is merely survival since they are responsible for 150 million deaths in their crusades and the body-count again rises daily, while the body count of Christian ‘murders’ is zero. Islam and Communism (which McLaren appears to be an apologists for) make the church look like boy and girl scouts in the ‘injustice’ field.
Brian McLaren, Christian social justice and the boycott of Israel
The Anti-Israel Revelation
(9) Comment by a friend of the olives: Given the frauds in the environmental movement (fraudulent research proposals, flawed computer programs, cover ups of contradictory data, unfulfilled predictions etc) we are hardly the ones with regrets.
(10) Does he mean Arius of Alexandria, founder of the heresy known as Arianism, or Aerius of Sebaste who taught doctrines in opposition to the RC church (both 4th century)? [It was the Catholic heirarchy that persecuted Aerius.] Is McLaren’s wish that we apologize to the heretics also his wish that we no longer critique his false teachings?
(11) Expansiveness is the code word for tolerance-of-evil.
(12) We are never told to ‘remake the world.’ (John 18:36) Remaking the world is reconstructionism and another heresy (see: The Dominion Mandate and the Christian Reconstruction Movement by Bob DeWaay.) As Dave Hunt has noted in Whatever Happened to Heaven?:
“The great seduction is to turn us from heaven to earth, from the true God to ourselves, from the denial of self to the acceptance, love, and esteem of oneself, from God’s truth to Satan’s lie. At the heart of this seduction are beliefs that have a deceptively spiritual appeal, but which actually turn us from loving Christ and His appearing to the earthly ambition of taking over society and remaking this world into the paradise that Adam and Eve lost” (p. 308). [Source: The Temporal Delusion Part 1, The Berean Call]
(14) Final comments (from a friend of the olives): “This ‘guilt-trip’ is social and political. What we are really guilty of is: not evangelizing, not cleaning our house of heretics, not living righteously, not promoting the TRUTH…(Do) you ever hear him (McLaren) railing against the greatest western genocide: abortion? No, OUR CHRIST criticizes us (Revelation 3) for none of these things but for being Laodicea. His command was ‘preach and teach the gospel’ not do politics and social work (although there is a place for both, they are VEHICLES for the message not the message).”