Archive for the ‘Brian McLaren’ Category

In the spirit of the new book, Why We’re Not Emergent, the accompanying website, and this post, I thought I’d present the Top 50 Possible Reasons Why You’re Not Emergent.


50. They’re all a bunch of false prophets. Really, that’s what they told me

49. My mother will disown me.

48. I just don’t like Doug Pagitt. He scares me.

47. I heard from a famous pastor that Emergent is from the debil.

46. I don’t like Rob Bell’s hair.

45. The word Emergent is not in the Bible.

44. It’s just not allowed in the Vanderhoeven family.

43. I heard Calvin would simply not approve

42. Mark Driscoll told me I couldn’t.

41. I’m just not “certain” yet it’s the right way to go.

40. I heard from this guy who knew this lady who had a brother who was Emergent and he went blind doing it.

39. I enjoy being a skeptic.

38. I didn’t learn about Emergent in seminary so I’m not going to start now.

37. I like being on the bigger team.

36. I heard you had to take yoga.

35. I’ve heard from a famous prison ministry guy they don’t believe in the Bible.

34. Where would I be without absolute truth.

33. Tony Jones went to Princeton Theological Seminary…that liberal.

32. They didn’t teach this in Alpha.

31. I’m not white.

30. I’m over 40.

29. I don’t have any cool, black eyeglasses.

28. I don’t like coffee or Guinness.

27. It’s immoral to smoke pipes or cigars.

26. They haven’t yet come up with my denomination of Presbymergent

25. Emergents read unapproved books.

24. I’m allergic to candles.

23. I like Jesus but not Emergent.

22. Brian McLaren’s books are not theologically correct. I’m not sure why, I just know they are.

21. I like my Christianity strong and hot.

20. The orthodoxy police will bust me.

19. I’m not uber-cool. In fact, I don’t even know what “uber” means.

18. I don’t understand it and I don’t want to.

17. If it doesn’t have the letters SBC in it, I’m not interested.

16. All they want to do is love. Where’s the truth in that?

15. I’m a bullhorn type of guy.

14. I prefer Joel Osteen.

13. I just finally bought into fundamentalism and you want me to shift?

12. I don’t really want a generous orthodoxy.

11. I refuse to switch to Apple

10. I can’t. I go to John MacArthur’s church.

9. My friends will think I’m a heretic.

8. I already was a New (Kind of) Christian.

7. I refuse to grow a soul patch

6. Hell fire and brimstone works just fine, thank you.

5. I don’t like loud, rock music at church. It’s a sin.

4. Their hermeneutic of ecclesiology is unorthodox, fundamentally esoteric and meandering. It borders on epistemological ambiguity that is really troublesome. I’m afraid it will lead to heretical uncertainty of the most pernicious kind.

3. But then I might have to really have faith.

2. Brian McLaren is the debil.

And the number one possible reason Why You’re Not Emergent is:

1. The emerging church is so yesterday.


Just in case you were wondering. The answer is yes, this is humor.


Read Full Post »


Alan Roxburgh spent some time with Brian McLaren and interviewed him on video. He discusses his insights on the emerging church, his critics and then spends a good deal of time on his new book, Everything Must Change. You can see the interviews here.

Part 1 – Here Alan Roxburgh sat down with Brian in a hotel room in Toronto at the end of September, days before the publication of Brian’s new book, Everything Must Change. In this first of a three part interview series about his book, Brian talks about dealing with the passionate responses his writing often elicits.

Part 2 – Here In Part 2 of Alan Roxburgh’s Conversation with Brian McLaren, Brian and Alan talk about the stories and the biblical narratives that shape and sound the call that “Everything Must Change.” This is a continuing conversation about how we understand the challenge of being followers of Christ in these rapidly changing times.

Part 3 – Here Part Three of Alan Roxburgh’s interview with Brian McLaren on his book, Everything Must Change brings this series to its conclusion. In this interview, Alan and Brian discuss issues that include our propensity for denying our past, other ways to peace, the need for our solutions to go deeper, our preoccupation with the church rather than the Kingdom, what Vaclav Havel’s story of the fall of communism has to say to the state of the church today, and Brian’s new Web site, Deep Shift.

Read Full Post »


Can you feel it in the wind? It feels like we’re in this strange season where voices within the church are pulling the trump card called heresy. I guess this is to be expected with any movement. The old gives way to the new only through troubled means. But as I survey this territory, I find that it is not a road I want to traverse. Love still remains the better path.

Wikipedia has a really great dialog about heresy.

“The word “heresy” comes from the Greek αἵρεσις, hairesis (from αἱρέομαι, haireomai, “choose”), which means either a choice of beliefs or a faction of believers. It was given wide currency by Irenaeus in his tract Contra Haereses (Against Heresies) to describe and discredit his opponents in the early Christian Church. He described his own position as orthodox (from ortho- “right” + doxa “belief”) and his position eventually evolved into the position of the early Christian Church.

Used in this way, the term “heresy” has no purely objective meaning: the category exists only from the point of view of speakers within a group that has previously agreed about what counts as “orthodox”. Any nonconformist view within any field may be perceived as “heretical” by others within that field who are convinced that their view is “orthodox”; in the sciences this extension is made tongue-in-cheek.” (From Wikipedia, Etymology)

The fundamental problem with heresy is that its a judgment people make about other people’s belief, spoken, written, or whatever. And the power behind the word is the assumption that the person is in grave error, such that they may not be under grace anymore. Historically, heresy is used to imply to someone is out of grace. This is the underlying insinuation.

“Heretics usually do not define their own beliefs as heretical. Heresy is a value judgement and the expression of a view from within an established belief system. For instance, Roman Catholics held Protestantism as a heresy while some non-Catholics considered Catholicism the “Great Apostasy.”

Heresy is an extremely powerful word. Many in history have died for it. When we use it we set ourselves up as the authority. We are the ones who “know”. And to speak against the one who has called out the heresy is to question the authority, which puts that person in the spotlight they likely never desired. Who are we to question authority? We dont’ have PhDs and MDivs. Luther, although well educated took great risk in taking a stand and holding to his beliefs. Yet, those in the reformed camp sit on the edges of his coat and embrace what was once heresy.

My concern is when authority bases their understanding on right belief as the nature of our grace. Imagine the fear that causes people. This fear has historically produces so much that we are now ashamed of. Is His kingdom built on fear? Man, I’m in trouble because then I have to wonder if I’ve got everything in line. And baby, I don’t. Thankfully we have Scripture and freedom of dialog. And we do have love and grace.

I find it really interesting that someone could actually make a judgment of heresy. Especially when every those who are typically attacked (McLaren, Bell, Pagitt), do actively speak that Jesus is the Son of God.

All of this brouhaha got me asking a very serious question. Do the people who give the claim of heresy believe faith is by grace alone? I ask this because the fundamental issue at heart here is the question, “Is a heretic (defined as someone who believes something wrong about Scripture) still in grace?” I would argue yes, with one exception. The fundamental ascent of the heart, as revealed by the Holy Spirit is the question, “Who we say Jesus is.” The Apostle John even provided a very simple test. The call to guard against apostasy in Scripture was to guard against those who wanted to add something to the work of Jesus, to go back to the law and move away from grace alone. This was the fight Paul wishes to fight. Our intellectual understanding of Scripture does not establish our grace. Jesus did.

My concern is that when we make the judgment that when someone is in error they are no longer in grace, we’ve crossed back over into apostasy ourselves. We’ve practiced the one exception because we’ve added to grace. This is Galatians revisited. If grace were the sum total of our belief systems then no one would make it. Why, because we’ve stepped back into performance (the law) as the defining factor of salvation. Children would be out simply for the fact that they don’t know everything.

Performance, or the establishment of a doctrinal set of beliefs as a criteria has always been about control, which is opposite love. Control is the domain of the enemy. And to be honest, why would anyone want to become the judge? Why would we want to be the one to establish the box people have to live in. Because once we establish the box, we have now established our own ruleset. This is what I love about grace. It destroys the box.

And sometimes I get why people make the judgment. I would suggest that Mark Driscoll and Johnny Mac, and those who make these claims have good intentions. They clearly love the Gospel. But I would suggest that before we make judgments we listen to the words of Jesus not to step into that arena. When we do we are the ones fighting each other and the enemy is in the stands laughing at us. I would suggest that Jesus understood that to make ourselves the judge is to create the standard in which we are judged. JR Woodward has a post that captures this well. This was the curse of the law. If we try to fulfill it, we are then defined by it.

I love Jesus’ own words on the subject.

“As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.” (John 12: 47)

Let’s hold on to love people, and discover why turning the other cheek is so much more powerful. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to be the one to convict those who need it and in the process love our brother so that we can earn the right to be heard.

Read Full Post »


Emergent Village is looking for feedback on developing a Greenbelt type festival. And as I was taking it they included the following demographic question: “Primary Theological Orientation”. And to a certain extent I looked at the list and identified with almost every one, which made me think about Brian McLaren’s, “A Generous Orthodoxy.

I’m a former marketing guy so I get why they want to do this. But to be honest I surprised me that Emergent would seek out this information. Facetiously, are they going to stamp this on the name tag?

Spiritual but not religious: Yes, I am a spiritual person but I can’t stand oppressive religion.

Orthodox (Eastern Rite, OCA, Coptic, etc): Yes, I’m trying to be orthodox. Aren’t we all?

Roman Catholic: Yes, even though I have serious concerns.  I love the liturgy and art forms that are part of the history. The Apostle Peter was part of this church too.

Anglican (Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, etc) Yes, These are my brothers from up North. Need to know more though.

Methodist (UMC, AME, Nazarene, Wesleyan, etc) Yes, I love Wesley’s focus on discipleship.

Reformed (PCUSA, PCA, UCC, etc) Yes, I hope I’m reforming.

Lutheran: Yes, see “reformed”.

Anabaptist: Yes, I love the focus on Kingdom.

Pentecostal (Charismatic, etc) Yes, I truly believe the Holy Spirit is alive and well and leading for those who are listening.

Evangelical (Non-Denom, Vineyard, Southern Baptist, etc) Yes, I love the beauty of freedom and intimate worship and losing labels.

Contemplative Tradition (Quaker, etc) Yes, you bet. I need to remember to remember and reflect on the journey on a regular basis.

Metaphysical Christian (Unity, etc) Yes. It’s hard for me to knock anything that has the word unity in it. 😉

Other Religion (Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, etc.) Yes with an obvious asterisk. Jesus was Jewish and I have learned a tremendous amount from Hebrew culture, Buddhists and Muslims on commitment and conviction, but the real word here is human.

None: Yes, because it is hard for me to identify that I am simply one of these.

I’m being facetious with all of this to a certain extent.  But the list really got me thinking about the nature of the emerging church and our desire to move past traditional belief labels and find deeper distinctions that bring us together so we can learn from each other. I recognize that we don’t have these distinctions yet. But I’m not afraid to learn from my Buddhist friend or my Anabaptist brother. I can easily imagine God speaking through them just as much as he would through an ass. I made a decision a long time ago to be open to listening to the Spirit in what ever way He chooses. I have Scripture to help me sift.

I suddenly had a renewed appreciation for what Brian was trying to accomplish with his book. How do we begin to learn from each other rather than separate ourselves? How do we learn to connect as human beings rather than disconnect based on differences? Love calls us to move past these differences and see each other for who we really are, God’s beautiful creation. We may believe differently but it doesn’t mean they each of us doesn’t need love.

My end choice was “other” for this reason. It was a good exercise though.

Which one would you pick?

Read Full Post »


This is hilarious for all the conversation around mega-churches. What happens when a small church tries to be mega?


Brian McLaren sharing his thoughts on what the Gospel is really about. I love the simplicity of what he is saying.


Mark Lowry throwing out some great observations on women in the church.

Read Full Post »


When Mark Driscoll chose to pick a fight with the specific voices in the emerging church at the SBC conference, I really didn’t want to get involved. What would drive someone to do something like that when it wasn’t even what he was there to speak on? I did listen to his message for the sake of being informed and did comment. I even drafted a a lengthy response for this blog. But I never could hit publish with my response because I always felt like it was stepping into a fight I didn’t want to engage. I thought about it. The bully had swung and missed and I kept wondering what was the real reason for this urge to swing back. The more I thought about it, the more I kept wondering what the issue was in the first place.

I for one, and I’m sure many others, loved the wink idea as a response. Many of you got that it just wasn’t the fight we were interested in walking into. Brian McLaren and Rob Bell simply didn’t comment. Doug simply accepted his boot from the next SBC conference. Love it all.

The moment that some think is going to be really, really important, left me wanting and wondering if this is the best that we as a body of Christ can really come up with? Will this be a defining moment in the emerging church? I actually think so but for a very different reason than most. I for one think that this will be a moment Mark will regret what he did at some point in the future. Not because he was right or wrong, but because I think at some point in the future he’ll see that he got derailed.

And the reason I say this is because MoreThanMine posted a recap that included my comments. And as I was reading through the comments I made again, I recognized that at the end of his 1 hour twenty minute talk he spent about ten minutes talking about new forms and being incarnational. I really like what he said in these ten minutes. Other people liked it too.

And I realized that Mark had the unique opportunity to really inform a body of believers that would tend to be on the outside fo the emerging church, and to talk more about incarnational and open so many minds at the SBC. This is one of the hearts of the emerging church. How do we embody Christ in our everyday lives. He had the opportunity to provide positive steps forward for everyone who was interested in the emerging church conversation. This would have been so affirming and would have given everyone something to really think about. Instead of spending 50 minutes critiquing the church, he ended up throwing in incarnational as almost an aside.

And then I realized what the enemy does so well. He invites us to go after our own brothers. The enemy invites us to take the first swing because if he can get us to fight each other, we’re not fighting him. We become the enemy, and he finds his amusement from the grandstands.

I think about the allure of the word heresy. It has so much power, so much force and weight, It also has so much potential to make me look good. The crowd is on my side. If I’ve called someone a heretic I must know something they don’t or I wouldn’t possibly say THAT. The temptation to swing first is so present because it sure makes us look so good in the process. The enemy even gives us a bright, shiny banner with the words, “In the name of God,” written all over it. Who is going to argue when we’ve got (g)od on our side.

But, If I use the word heresy on someone, even for good reasons, it invites the other to defend themselves, to swing back. And if they do, now we have a fight that divides us. And if you and I aren’t speaking to each other, we’re not as strong. I’ve actually lost my brother who can’t watch my back. I’ve actually lost relationship with someone who can remind me what my Heavenly Father looks like.

All of this makes me realize there might have been a deeper wisdom to Jesus inviting us to, “Turn the other cheek.” How many times have we read that verse assuming it was only our enemy. Maybe Jesus knew we’d need that verse for our own brothers (and sisters) too, for the one’s that hurt us within the church.

The reality is that my brother is going to miss the mark sometimes. But if I go to him in secret, holding his dignity in love, he’ll know I really am his brother. I can listen to why he thinks this or that and say, “Oh I get it…but have you thought about this.” It’s just between the two of us. Jesus knew that love was the only response that worked. In a mission of restoration and reconciliation, I can’t do that if there are blows thrown.

Maybe Jesus knew that the moment someone strikes us is the moment we are being invited to destroy ourselves by striking back or running away. When someone hit us was actually the most defining moment of our lives. It was in this moment that life was demanding an answer to who we really are. Are we really the children of a living God?

You see the reason I think this will be a defining moment in the future is because love will win out in this one. The emerging church body will stand up and say, we don’t need to fight to win. We already have.

So my response to Mark is sorrow. My hope is that you will someday find the best in your brothers because that will be the best in you. That will be what your Heavenly Father is looking for in you.

Read Full Post »


(ht) This is huge. It is one of the most fascinating and I would say important video’s I have seen in a long time in regards to the church. And it begs the question, “Is Willow Creek Going Emerging?” Yes, I said that. But let me explain. First, what Willow is doing is very important here. If you can get past the fact that this is a McKinsey (read: business) type approach to church, the findings are stunning. And they’ve backed it up with the evidence. They studied over 20,000 people in 30 different churches.

See it here. Make sure you watch the long version.

Greg Hawkins is the Executive Pastor at Willow Creek. It’s safe to say that Willow is one THE most influential megachurches in America. Is there impact waining? Maybe. But people still listen. Attendance is close to 20,000 on average every Sunday. They have the Willow Creek Association which serves and supports over 12,000 churches. I personally have attended a Leadership Summit and loved the opportunities for conversation. They basically invented (or made it known) the seeker sensitive approach. People follow Willow primarily because Willow has chosen to establish itself in a leadership role. But they got it wrong, and these are not my words.

Their basic strategy for spiritual growth was based on the idea that participation equals growth, a fairly large assumption within the modern church and Christendom. Willow offered the usual: services, classes, small groups, care, and service opportunities. He even calls them “activities and programs”. “Participation is a big deal. We believe the more people participating in these sets of activities, with higher levels of frequency, it will produce disciples of Christ.” The most ironic statement comes a statement or two later. He says, “I know it might sound crazy but that’s how we do it in churches. We measure levels of participation.”

But then he admits that it is not working. His direct quote is, “Increasing levels of participation in these sets of activities does NOT predict whether someone’s becoming more of a disciple of Christ. It does NOT predict whether they love God more or they love people more.” This is a huge statement. Here is one of the largest and highest profile, teaching churches in America admitting that their fundamental strategy for spiritual development was not working. I would argue that his statement is one of the primary tenets of the emerging church. But it gets better.

He goes on to identify five segments of people within the church based upon their intimacy with Christ: exploring, growing, close, centered, and stalled. The sad part is that those who identify themselves as centered, or the most intimate in their faith are the most likely to leave. He said, “The people who love God the most are the one’s most disappointed.” Mail call. Are you just now getting it? And he goes on to say, “it wasn’t just true at Willow but in all the other settings they looked at.” I have to laugh because those within the emerging/missional church have been getting kicked around for soooo long for saying just that.

He ends with one of the most intriguing statements. He says, “Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how he’s asking us to transform this planet.” Nice. If I told you Brian McLaren said that, you’d believe me.

Hats off to you Willow for taking steps in the right direction. It take leadership to admit you got it wrong. Well done for realizing the cracks in the facade. You have always been interesting in leading. Let’s hope this leads somewhere productive.

PS: You can also watch Hybels response here. He reveals that we must teach people to “self-feed”. It’s called discipleship and the priesthood of all believers Bill.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »