Brian McLaren’s fifth and last session was the conclusion to his Naked Spirituality series at the Refreshing Winds conference at CMU. (1) At this point, the following ‘end notes and commentary’ section beneath this final post of a five part review may sound weary, short, sarcastic and lacking in patience. If perceived as so, it is for good reason.
McLaren began this final session by talking about cleaning up the damage and cramming life into artificial constructs, cultic and bad faith organizations, and inviting people back into eternal stage one as long as they submit and obey and follow orders. Certain denominations, he said, specialize in certain stages and if you are not in one of those stages they can’t help you. (2)
We need more stage four leaders who start thinking how they can more effectively live with stage four leaders. McLaren wishes there were more ‘fours’ around that can speak the message of simplicity, as an open ended cylinder, not a closed tube, but able to speak in simple ways. (3) Like Paul, who became all things to all people.
In this tough zone, how can we minister to people at these different places? Jesus is the master teacher, being able to meet people where they are but able to bring them farther along in the journey. He gives simple and clear commands for people in each zone. He was inviting people to question and doubt certainties (how faith could continue with no temple, it’s not what people eat that defile a man, etc.). (4)
Disciples are not ‘know it alls’ but life long learners. Think about rings on a tree, the inner core, and the new growth which doesn’t replace the old growth, it embraces it and expands it. At the fourth stage, there is a long way to go, and you have not arrived. Going to a retreat or conference might be a temporary stage four even if it’s not your state yet – learn the practices that develop stage four as your normal way of living. (5)
When Jesus said ‘Eat my flesh,’ McLaren said this means metaphorically and figuratively; spirit, not flesh, but what Jesus meant was – what I’m giving you is myself, me, “the body of Christ.” I wonder if it would be better, added McLaren, to translate it: the embodiment of Christ, “when we take the flesh of Christ into us, we’re saying in a sense that food is nourishing us so that we will come to understand our flesh as the enfleshment if Christ, the on going incarnation, the ongoing embodiment of Christ. Christ pouring His spirit into us so that now we carry the spirit of Jesus in our bodies the way that that physical body carried the spirit of Jesus in Gallilee and Jerusalem and in Judea.” (6)
In the season of simplicity God feeds us with clear easy answers, then when we’ve gotten used to that God gives us easy steps of know how and practice, then when we come into the season of Perplexity, God gives us questions and paradoxes that our old categories couldn’t handle, God’s way of nourishing us to help us grow and expand. In that stage of harmony (7) God gives us things too wonderful for words, and we receive in the rest of silence and beholding, surrender, releasing, agreeing, in our yes to God.
Then McLaren asked; “Can the earth really be liberated from the destructive framing story that drives it? Is Jesus’ healing and transforming framing story really powerful enough to save the world?” The simple answer, he said, is that nobody knows. (8)
But he said that his friend Jim Wallis says, there’s only one hope: we’re going to have to change the wind. (9) “Changing the wind” would mean changing public opinion, which requires changing the vision of what is both possible and desirable, which ultimately means changing our ‘framing story.’ In other words, changing the wind means doubting, rejecting, and defecting from our old framing stories, and instead, discovering and adopting – in a word, believing – a new framing story. (10) As McLaren has been preaching for some time already, everything must change.
In conclusion, it is the opinion of the olives that these so called ‘Refreshing Winds‘ that blew into CMU this February should have been more truthfully called the ‘Stench of Death Drafts.’ If it’s true that a cross wind moves horizontally, while a draft moves vertically, this would be considered a ‘downdraft.’ As any trained meteorologist will tell you, downbursts can cause extensive localized damage, similar to that caused by tornadoes. This is exactly what we are seeing happen in the church as men like McLaren and his good friends blow in to speak here and there, leaving heaps of debris behind them with their messy doubt filled books, philosophies and myths. Jesus said that the hypocrites of His day knew how to discern the weather, but not discern the signs of the times (Matthew 16). What about you, reader?
It has not been easy to listen to hours of lies and craftiness in an effort to attempt to shine the light of truth into this ominous storm pressure system that is upon us. This small attempt to turn back the tide has been prayerfully done in hopes that even one who reads here will have their eyes opened and will be able to discern the pure and simple truth from gross camouflaged error. May God rescue the faithful from even greater delusion that is even now pressing at the door.
“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” Ephesians 4:14
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:3,4
END NOTES AND COMMENTARY:
(1) LISTEN HERE:
Refreshing Winds 2011 audio
Keynote Speaker: Brian McLaren
Naked Spirituality, Part 1-5
Saturday, February 5, 2011, 4:00pm
Plenary: Brian McLaren, Naked Spirituality, Part 5: Conclusion
(2) More demeaning arrogant propaganda, presenting the myth as fact while destroying the simple truths of the gospel.
(3) How characteristically condescending of him.
(4) No. He was telling them that He was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. This is another indication of McLaren’s ignorance of scripture.
(5) Would these practices to further develop this supposedly enlightened stage by any chance be the mystical eastern practices and the contemplative spiritual disciplines of the ‘early church’ (i.e. Roman Catholic monks and Desert Fathers) which have recently been revamped and passed off as ‘Christian’?
(6) It’s not about our flesh, it’s about Jesus taking on our sin and reconciling us back to the Father, so we can be empowered to die to our flesh and daily walk in the resurrection power of His Holy Spirit to glorify His Name and spread the good news.
(7) So far, harmony according to McLaren appears to mean being one with the world’s thinking systems and philosophies, New Age thought, Jesus/Buddha naked spirituality, and universalism. This is the world’s inter-religious harmony, not the unity in Jesus Christ.
(8) Wrong. Those who have read to the end of The Book and believe know. Revelation 11:15
(9) Jim Wallis? Of this wind, McLaren is referring to the social gospel and dominionism.
Dominionism and the Rise of Christian Imperialism By Sarah Leslie
Sojourners Founder Jim Wallis’ Revolutionary Anti-Christian “Gospel”
Will Christian Leaders Stand with Wallis?
by M. Danielsen, Guest Commentary
(10) Pp 269, 270 Everything Must Change
RELATED RECOMMENDED RESEARCH:
A Pastor Reports on Brian McLaren’s “Everything Must Change” Tour Part 1
Transformation of the Church
***Parts [1-4] of Menno-lite’s review on the Refreshing Winds conference at CMU can be found here:
McLaren’s Refreshing Winds at CMU – Part 1
McLaren’s Refreshing Winds at CMU – Part 2
McLaren’s Refreshing Winds at CMU – Part 3
McLaren’s Refreshing Winds at CMU – Part 4
Brian McLaren Leads Commitment Ceremony At Son’s Same-Sex Wedding
McLaren family wedding ceremony included “traditional Christian elements.”