McLaren’s new book is merely a fresh take on an old lie, SBTS panelists say

Communications Staff — March 11, 2010

Brian McLaren, author and leading voice of the emergent church movement, has written a new book that seeks to reformulate Christianity, but it is nothing more than a wholesale rejection of historic Christianity, concluded members of a panel discussion Thursday at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr., along with professors Bruce Ware, Greg Wills, Stephen Wellum and Jim Hamilton, considered McLaren’s recently released work, “A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That are Transforming the Faith.” Mohler served as moderator.

Ware represented the sentiment of other panelists in suggesting the book might be more accurately titled “an old kind of apostasy,” because it rejects the God of the Bible.

“There is an audacity and an arrogance in this book that is breathtaking,” Ware said. “To look God in the face, as McLaren does, and say, ‘You are not God,’  is just stunning. Here is a man who sees the God of the Bible and despises that God. So what he does is create God in a whole different image, an image that fits his postmodern ‘evangelicalism.’ This will appeal to a person who knows little or nothing about the Bible, but who is steeped in the culture.”

Mohler said many will find the arguments in McLaren’s book compelling so long as they avoid God’s Word.  McLaren’s overhaul of the Christian faith, which he calls a “personal journey,” amounts to an undermining of the biblical storyline of creation-fall-redemption-consummation, Mohler said.

“If you actually read the Bible, you are going to end up having to say that this is a dishonest attempt to make the Bible say what is does not say. His narrative subversion just does not work,” he said.

Panelists pointed out that McLaren attributes the traditional, orthodox reading of Scripture and the doctrines that arise from it to an outdated, Greco-Roman methodology of reading the text. In this way, they said, McLaren makes himself the ultimate authority for properly interpreting Scripture.

“McLaren sets himself up as the one authority who at last understands the Bible accurately, Wellum said.

“When you actually let the Bible speak for itself, there is no way that you could come to the conclusions that he reaches. Clearly, McLaren has an evolutionary worldview that is a process view of God. There is an evolutionary view of the Old Testament that comes from outside the text and is planted on the text. He is giving you the impression that he stands at the end of the line, though he wants to say that he is on a quest.”

Video and audio of the entire panel discussion are available at:

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