Friday, October 19, 2007

Brian McLaren, Churches of Christ, and Evangelicals

In the conversation with the Otter Creek staff that I referred to last week, McLaren talked about evangelicalism. And to frame this properly, it's necessary to talk a little about an idea in his new book Everything Must Change. In it, McLaren talks about 5 different framing stories that most people exist in.

1) Imperialism - the idea that to truly effect change and the good of the world, it has to be controlled and/or subjugated, or we must align with those who are in control. In Jesus' day, this would have been the Saducees.
2) Revolution - Whoever is in control must be taken out of power. This would have been the Zealots.
3) Scapegoating - It is someone else' fault that things are as bad as they are. They must be purified or set right in order for things to get back to where they need to be. This would have been the Pharisees.
4) Isolationism - Everything's gone to Hell. And we must get away from it to protect ourselves. This would have been the Essenes.
5) The Kingdom of God. This is the message of Jesus.

Ok, so in the discussion, McLaren talked about how Churches of Christ actually have a benefit in how they have been separate from the rest of the Christian world. He contends that much of the evangelical world is not caught up in the framing story of the Kingdom of God. Rather, they have bought into the Imperialism story, especially as they have associated themselves with particular political stories. He called it a "membrane" between us and the rest of the Christian world. Now, he didn't say that it's a bad thing that people like Max Lucado have been publicly associated with Churches of Christ and popular in the wider Christian world, but it does make the membrane thinner. McLaren feels that some of the more progressive Churches of Christ can speak very prophetically to the wider Christian world about the message of Jesus, rather than buying into any of the other framing stories.

Now, notice that he's not calling for isolation from the "denominations," but engagement. Rather than pull up our tents, we go out into the wider Christian world and call not for a restoration of the forms of the first century church, but for a restoration of a community of people who are seeking to become disciples of Christ.

It was an intriguing part of the conversation and I'm curious to hear other people's reactions.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Thanks Phil, I have been wondering what gifts "we" have to bring to the table for the greater Christendom. What you wrote provides good insight along that line of thought.

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