It appears that the Mennonites are still praising the false teachings and ‘beautifully poetic moving’ ideas of Brian McLaren. In the Cross Currents section of the February 2015 issue of the MB Herald is a book review of the newest Brian McLaren book called We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation and Activation. The review is written by Brad Sumner, regular writer for the MB Herald and pastor at a Mennonite Brethren church plant (Jericho Ridge, B.C. Canada). A mixture of light criticism and praise, the review leans toward applause and affirmation of the book’s commendable emphasis on spiritual formation among many other things – McLaren’s approach to scripture, emphasis on justice and nonresistance that resonates with the Mennonite Brethren, caring for creation, and enough ‘skillfully phrased’ family/child inclusive questions to sustain conversations for a year. The following excerpt is from the review:
Concerning reorientation toward the Bible
What will likely create some tension, however, is the elasticity with which McLaren treats the Bible itself. For him, Scripture seems to be an allegory of possibilities where factual truth and actual truth become interchangeable and sometimes intermingled.
McLaren has a tendency to denigrate biblical authority to make a contemporary point. For example, when discussing violence in the Old Testament, he indicates that “in the minds of the originators of these stories, God as they understood God did indeed command these things.” He goes on to suggest that what is truly important is how we understand God, not necessarily how the original writers or hearers heard or understood him…
As Mennonite Brethren, we have a very different outlook, as expressed in Article 2 of our CCMBC Confession of Faith: “We accept the Bible as the infallible Word of God and the authoritative guide for faith and practice.”
Community emphasis on activation
For those with an already firm view of biblical authority, the book holds wonderful benefit for personal contemplative reading…I could see the material being used as a post-Alpha learning circle that meets weekly to journey deeper into the themes of Scripture.
…on the whole, the book is pithy and full of vitality and worthwhile topics for conversation along the road.
Why recommend ANY teacher who does not submit to the Bible as the inspired Word of God? Why promote the ‘skillfully phrased’ (some might say “hissed”) questions of a false teacher as a good source for teaching children and new Christians?
This review by Pastor Sumner, an avid reader and prolific blogger, is also posted at his blog Leadership Confessions, where admiration for Brian McLaren, whom Sumner calls “a sometimes controversial author and public theologian,” is expressed more than once. Previous book reviews and author promotions on his blog include (among many others) many such “controversial” authors. Such as Danny Silk of Bethel Church, Henri Nouwen, Parker Palmer, George Fox, Kathleen Norris, Ann Voskamp, Leonard Sweet, Gary Thomas, and Larry Crabb. Sumner also refers to “The Emotionally Healthy Church”, by Peter Scazzero, and Shane Claiborne’s “Common Prayer – A Liturgy For Ordinary Radicals” as ‘helpful’ books. Also included among his many postings is a quote from Understanding the Ennegram (“Psychology without spirituality is arid and ultimately meaningless, while spirituality without grounding in psychological work leads to vanity and illusions”). Many of these are authors are leaders in the emerging church and contemplative spirituality movements. The Ennegram, which quite a few of them also promote, is an occult tool.
There is an old quote by Oscar Wilde, whose life turned out to be a tragic mess, that goes like this: “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” Sadly, many of today’s pastors and Christian leaders read more books off the shelf than they do the books of the Bible.
“And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Ecclesiastes 12:12
It is time to weep and pray for the pastors.
“But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:4
*Find out more about Mennonites and McLaren’s book here:
McLaren’s New Book – A New Kind of Year Long Church Curriculum
*Learn more about McLaren’s Bible interpretation methods and plans to influence children, here:
Muddy Emerging Convergence in Sunday School Curriculum
Note: to read previous articles on this blog about Mennonite and their enchantment with Brian McLaren, enter his name in the search box.