Monday, March 07, 2005

Albert Mohler on McLaren's Generous Orthodoxy

I had nearly finished reading Brian McLaren's A Generous Orthodoxy when I stumbled upon this review via Movable Theoblogical by Dr. Albert Mohler. Dr Mohler is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Dr Mohler writes:

he embraces relativism at the cost of clarity in matters of truth and intends to redefine Christianity for this new age, largely in terms of an eccentric mixture of elements he would take from virtually every theological position and variant.

My take would be a little different. In a Generous orthodoxy I found McLaren affirming and encouraging those aspects of varying denominations which he believes to most closely resemble the early church. At the same time, identifying those aspects of the same varying denominations, that when compared to the church that Christ laid the foundation of, are found lacking. More simply put here is what the Methodist have done well and not done well, here is what the Catholics have done well and not done well, here is what the anabaptists have done well and not done so well, etc.

This is a man who doesn't want to offend anyone on any side of any argument. That's why it's hard to find the orthodoxy in A Generous Orthodoxy.
I think I understand Dr. Mohler's perspective, i.e., the gospel has the potential to be offensive. I do not however agree (and this is an assumption I am making about Mohler's stance) that a potential to be offensive gives us as followers of Christ a license or worse a mandate to offend in the name of Lord.

McLaren effectively ransacks the Christian tradition, picking and choosing among theological options without any particular concern for consistency. He rejects the traditional understanding of doctrine as statements of biblical truth and instead presents a variant of postmodernism
What is the value is consistency for consistency's sake?

A responsible theological argument must acknowledge that difficult questions demand to be answered. We are not faced with an endless array of doctrinal variants from which we can pick and choose. Homosexuality either will or will not be embraced as normative. The church either will or will not accept a radical revisioning of the missionary task.

At the risk of sounding sarcastic and disrespectful, it must be nice to live in a world that is completely black and white. Difficult questions demand to be answered? Who exactly determines who is qualified to answer those questions?

We will either see those who have not come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as persons to whom we should extend a clear gospel message and a call for decision, or we will simply come alongside them to tell our story as they tell their own.
So according to Dr Mohler evangelism consists of reciting the four spiritual laws. The movement of God in our lives has no place in sharing Christ's love, that would be telling our story. Expressing an interest in someone else's life by asking questions about what they believe or about their past experiences has no place in reaching the lost for Christ either because that would mean we would have to listen to their story.

Honest Christians know that disagreements over issues of biblical truth are inevitable. But we owe each other at least the honesty of taking a position, arguing for that position from Scripture, and facing the consequences of our theological convictions.

At the risk of sounding sarcastic yet again it must be nice to have all the answers. According to Dr Mohler there is no room to say "I don't know." A position I believe to both disingenuous and dangerous. I truly believe that scripture has the answers to many questions. I also believe there are some questions that don't have answers.

I am sure Dr Mohler has and will continue influence people for the Lord. He must have worked incredibly hard to attain a position such as the one he holds. He is due a great deal of respect. My hope and prayer is that he has not become so enamored with his posotion and the respect he is owed to be willing to look and listen to those with opinions contrary to his own.

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