Negative Conversation and Debate


From my limited perspective, imperfect as it is I find much of the current conversations critical, judgmental and disparaging within evangelical streams of the church.  It seems few of us have the ability or desire to enter the discussion without voicing speech that is less than Christlike.  This is certainly not the majority, but its definitely more than a minority.  Present within some conversations is a bent to devalue and dismiss brothers and sisters holding differing doctrinal views, which falls in the category  of character assassination or biblical words like slander and malice. I find myself on occasion wanting to mix it up in this fray and frenzy of conversation. With those in my sphere I’ve been known to let loose a few verbal blows against those who see Scriptural doctrines differently.

A case in point.  In a resent conversation with some brothers, Brian McLaren’s name surfaced.  From a non-judgmental perspective he has emerged as the current evangelical verbal punching bag.  Granted there are times that our brother seems to invite the blows, but generally speaking most of what is inflicted upon him, is unwarranted and undeserved.

Our conversation settled on whether or not Brian’s teaching bordered on heresy…. or something like that and why his Christology might be lacking or suspect. The fodder for our conversation was second and third hand information.  To be honest only one of us had read or personally heard McLaren enough to make an intelligent judgment.  But in my thinking his theology, character and spirituality was at best suspicious…. at least I was leaning that way.

Than one of the brothers drew our attention to something McLaren posted in 2004 stating his view and belief in Christ, titled The Jesus Creed. Read it for yourself below.  I have since thanked the Lord for this brother that was not as quick as I to assume and judge based on hearsay and innuendo.  I think before I make another assessment or enter a conversation on the authenticity of another I will do my own research and not leave it to second and third hand sources…… and hopefully be slower to inflict verbal blows to another.

This creed was originally shared at the Emergent Convention, Nashville, May 2004.

By Brian McLaren

We have confidence in Jesus
Who healed the sick, the blind, and the paralyzed.
And even raised the dead.

He cast out evil powers and
Confronted corrupt leaders.
He cleansed the temple.
He favored the poor.
He turned water into wine,
Walked on water, calmed storms.

He died for the sins of the world,
Rose from the dead, and ascended to the Father,
Sent the Holy Spirit.

We have confidence in Jesus
Who taught in word and example,
Sign and wonder.
He preached parables of the kingdom of God
On hillsides, from boats, in the temple, in homes,
At banquets and parties, along the road, on beaches, in towns,
By day and by night.

He taught the way of love for God and neighbor,
For stranger and enemy, for outcast and alien.

We have confidence in Jesus,
Who called disciples, led them,
Gave them new names and new purpose
And sent them out to preach good news.
He washed their feet as a servant.
He walked with them, ate with them,
Called them friends,
Rebuked them, encouraged them,
Promised to leave and then return,
And promised to be with them always.

He taught them to pray.
He rose early to pray, stole away to desolate places,
Fasted and faced agonizing temptations,
Wept in a garden,
And prayed, “Not my will but your will be done.”
He rejoiced, he sang, he feasted, he wept.

We have confidence in Jesus,
So we follow him, learn his ways,
Seek to obey his teaching and live by his example.
We walk with him, walk in him, abide in him,
As a branch in a vine.

We have not seen him, but we love him.
His words are to us words of life eternal,
And to know him is to know the true and living God.
We do not see him now, but we have confidence in Jesus.

Amen.

I am currently meditating on Matthew 12:36-37.

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One Response

  1. “Confidence in Jesus” vs. John 14:6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (RSV) I would have confidence in Brian McLaren as Xian if empirical research found him declaring John 14:6 irrefutable. Otherwise, would suspect him some form of Universalist based upon above empirical finding. I wonder, if asked, would McLaren give definitive answer in response to John 14:6?

    I know not of McLaren or his work save the above text. What I do know is Xians are responsible to defend the Gospel not doctrine. Therefore, Xian claiming “all roads” needs to be righted, in light of John 14:6, and Universalist (all roads) claiming to be Xian needs to be exposed (Mt 28:18-20) for their rebelliousness and falsehood. As far as righting a Xian family member, we are taught to counsel one another in a good-willed manner (Col. 1:28). And it is our duty to expose a Universalist (all roads) masquerading as a Xian for the Gospel’s sake. For there is no hope in denying the authority of Jesus; no hope in pretending. There is hope for Universalist not claiming to be Xian.

    As far as negativity in the discussion, I agree. Our words should always be spoken in love & hope.

    For what ever it is worth, Laura

    P.S. Rob, thank you so much for this work.

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