Thursday, February 18, 2010

Half truths are not true

Kevin DeYoung has read Brian McLaren’s new book, A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith and reviews its argument at some length. DeYoung expresses his intention to be fair, avoiding personal attack, saying "No one deserves to reviled. But some books deserve to pilloried." Here DeYoung describes the "ten questions" referred to in the book title, and here the problems he finds with McLaren's theses. [A pdf of the review is here.] It is pretty clear that McLaren strays pretty far from orthodoxy in his "new kind" of Christianity. The real question is whether it is, in fact, Christianity at all. DeYoung concludes:
The message of McLarenism is pretty simple: God is love and wants everyone to be kind and inclusive and care for the poor and the environment. This is what Jesus was like, and we should be like Jesus. This is, of course, not wrong in so far as it goes. The Liberal/McLaren emphasis on the kingdom is right, their concern for the “other” is right, much of their ethics is right. But McLarenism, like liberalism, cannot be right. It has its emphases all out of proportion, its right statements thrown out of whack by all that is missing. In McLarenism there is no original sin, no wrath, no hell, no creation-fall-redemption, no definite future, no second coming that I can see, no clear statement on the deity of Christ, no mention of vicarious substitution or God’s holiness or divine sovereignty, no ethical demands except as they relate to being kind to others, no God-offendedness, no doctrine of justification, no unchanging apostolic deposit of truth, no absolute submission to the word of God, nary a mention of faith and worship, no doctrine of regeneration, no evangelistic impulse to save the lost, and nothing about God’s passion for his glory. This is surely a lot to leave out.

McLaren’s Christianity is not new and certainly not improved. I don’t believe you can even call it Christianity. It is liberalism dressed up for the 21st century. .... [more]
Just before this summary, DeYoung quotes H. Richard Niebuhr on theological liberalism: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of Christ without a cross.”

Christianity and McLarenism (2) – Kevin DeYoung

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