Today’s post will be kind of light. I wanted to share with you the aftermath of the Brian McLaren interview and my reactions to it.
A couple weeks ago I conducted an interview with Brian D McLaren. A genuinely nice guy. He is an emergent theologian and a controversial figure among many conservative camps. And rightly so – he is radical in thinking and approach.
I had him on this blog so that we could engage him first hand. I did my best to treat him fairly and with respect, all the while not shying away from some tough questions. While I do not see eye-to-eye on many of his positions, it is my job as an interviewer to allow the reader to engage the person interviewed without me getting in the way. If I can fairly interview a person and have them share their thoughts, it allows you, the reader, to have a two-way, instead of a three-way conversation.
I expected some heat from many of my conservative readers – and I got it. They labeled him as “unregenerate”, “apostate”, and a “deceiver”. Fortunately, they did not resort to cursing. But these labels have weight. I do not take them lightly. And for anyone to resort to saying that someone is in danger of hellfire – that is a call we cannot make and unnecessary.
Some, on the other hand, chose to engage and grapple with his ideas. They grappled with his concepts and put his ideas to the test. To that I say, GREAT JOB! One thing that Brian is a champion of, and I agree with, is that we should accept our plurality of Christianities and embrace them. So long as we agree that Jesus is God, come in the flesh, our Savior, and Lord – we can disagree on a lot and still be siblings.
As I put it in one of my responses to an email: “there are some things that I think that Brian is a pioneer and in others I think he has overreached.” I think to engage a man as that – a man – is most fruitful in theological discussions. Does he get the basics right? (Jesus is God, come in the flesh, Savior, and Lord.) Yes. Does he get some radical things right? (acceptance of other Christianities, narrative flow of the Bible, advancing God’s peaceable Kingdom) Yes. Does he get some things wrong? You bet.
The goal is to be clear headed enough to eat the meat and spit out the bones, as it were. We can’t just be content to cluster together in tight circles with only those that agree with us. The world needs more of us. We need to engage cutting edge thought and look at things from every angle. To give pat answers to tough questions is no longer acceptable.
But unless we talk to people with different ideas, we will never get newer, more precise answers to life’s tough questions. We will never wrestle with why we believe what we believe. We will never be challenged. We will never grow.
So do I regret interviewing Brian McLaren? Not on your life! I found him very personable and he challenged me to re-examine some of my comfortable theology. And that was the point of the interview.