Critical towards supposed modernist influences upon contemporary churches
"We see modernity with its absolutism's and colonialism's and totalitarianism as a kind of static dream, a desire to abide in timeless abstractions and extract humanity from the ongoing flow of history and emergence, a naïve hope to make now the end of history (which actually sounds either like a kind of death wish or millennialism). In Christian theology, this anti-emergent thinking is expressed in systematic theologies that claim (overtly, covertly, or unconsciously) to have final orthodoxy nailed down, freeze-dried, and shrink-wrapped forever."
Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, pg 286
Relativistic view towards theology and doctrine
Because theology is connected to real life, answering particular questions, concerns and opportunities of the day, it will be ever-changing. If it is not so, then it may well not be theology - it may be dogma, history, or a collection of random facts, but not theology. Theology is the living understanding of the story of God in play with the story of our lives.
Doug Paget, Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches: Five views. Pg 121
"Ask me if Christianity (my version of it, yours, the Pope's, whoever's) is orthodox, meaning true, and here's my honest answer: a little, but not yet. Assuming by Christianity you mean the Christian understanding of the world and God, Christian opinions on soul, text, and culture I'd have to say that we probably have a couple of things right, but a lot of things wrong, and even more spreads before us unseen and unimagined. But at least our eyes are open! To be a Christian in a generously orthodox way is not to claim to have the truth captured, stuffed, and mounted on the wall."
Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, pg. 293
“I am learning that my tradition includes the rabbis and reformers and revolutionaries and monks and nuns and pastors and writers and philosophers and artists and every person everywhere who has asked big questions of a big God”
Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith, p. 14.
(Except for very few exceptions, “rabbis” do not embrace the biblical gospel, and neither do most
“monks” and “nuns.” The great majority of monks and nuns throughout church history have fought against justification by faith alone. Rob Bell either has an extremely naïve view of Church history, or else he believes that people can be a part of God’s Kingdom who do not believe the biblical gospel.)
Denial of the Bible’s sufficiency and clarity
Everybody’s interpretation is essentially his or her own opinion. Nobody is objective.
Several years ago I was an intense meeting with our church’s leaders in which we were discussing several passages in the Bible. One of the leaders was sharing her journey in trying to understand what the Bible teaches about the issue at hand and said something like this: ‘Ive spent a great deal of time studying the issue. I’ve read what people on one side say, and I’ve read what the people on the other side say. I’ve read the scholars and theologians and all sorts of others on this subject. But then, in the end, I decided to go back to the Bible and just take it for what it says.’
What was she really saying?
Now please understand that this way of thinking is prevalent in a lot of Christian churches, so I don’t mean to single her out. But this view of the bible is warped and toxic, to say the least. The assumption is that there is a way to read the Bible that is agenda and perspective free. As if all these other people have their opinions and biases, but some are able to just read it for what is says.
Think about that for a moment: This perspective is claiming that a person can simply read the Bible and do what it says – unaffected by outside influences.
But let’s be honest. When you hear people say that they are just going to tell you what the Bible says, it is not true.
Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith, . Pg 53.
How do “I” know the Bible is always right? And if “I” am sophisticated enough to realize that I know nothing of the Bible without my own involvement via interpretation, I’ll also ask how I know which school, method, or technique of biblical interpretation is right. What makes a “good” interpretation good? And if an appeal is made to a written standard (book, doctrinal statement, etc.) or to common sense or to “scholarly principles of interpretation,” the same pesky “I” who liberated us from the authority of the church will ask, “Who sets the standard? Whose common sense? Which scholars and why? Don’t all these appeals to authorities and principles outside the Bible actually undermine the claim of ultimate biblical authority? Aren’t they just the new pope?
Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy pg133.
(How many time have you sat in a small-group Bible study where you open your bible and rather than do a proper exegetical study, the emphasis is “What does this verse say to you?”, during you all share and hopefully can come up with an interpretation the whole group can agree on?
16We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." 18We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
19And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. 21For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:16-21
Scripture on it’s own trumps any form of subjectivity simply because it has it’s origins in an objective source. No word of scripture ever came forth from subjective interpretation, and hence neither should it be read.)
Essentials of the Gospel Message openly questioned and denied
This is one of the huge problems with the traditional understanding of hell, because if the Cross is in line with Jesus' teaching, then I won't say the only and I certainly won't say ... or even the primary or a primary meaning of the Cross ... is that the Kingdom of God doesn't come like the kingdoms of this world by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes thru suffering and willing voluntary sacrifice right? But in an ironic way the doctrine of hell basically says no, that's not really true. At the end God gets his way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination just like every other kingdom does. The Cross isn't the center then, the Cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God.
Pluralistic view towards non-Christian beliefs
We claim the beautiful and the good and the true wherever we find it, because all things are ours. Several years ago, I was hanging around after one of our church services, and a young woman named Yvette walked up to me and told me she had been listening to me for the last few weeks and hated everything I was saying and totally disagreed with my teachings and the whole time she just wanted to stand up on her chair and yell at me.
I immediately liked her.
She went on to say that she was studying witchcraft and was totally opposed to the things she heard me saying.
I responded, “But you keep coming back.” And then I told her I was thrilled that she kept returning to our gatherings. I hoped that our community would continue to be a safe place for her to question and study and discuss and hear that God loves her just the way she is.
Velvet Elvis, pg 89.
I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts. This will be hard, you say, I agree. But frankly, it’s not at all easy to be a follower of Jesus in many “Christian” religious contexts either.
Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy pg260.
“So as a Christian, I am free to claim the good, the true, the holy, wherever and whenever I find it. I live with the understanding that truth is bigger than any religion and the world is God’s and everything in it” Velvet Elvis p. 80.
(If we follow Rob’s views out to their logical conclusion, then we ought to embrace "truth" found in the Quran. Why stop there? According to Rob Bell, we ought to embrace "truths" found in the Hindu vedas, and the book of Mormon. Why not? Rob Bell says “truth is bigger than any religion.” Furthermore, when weighed against the Great Commission, Why bother with missions and evangelism?)
R.C. Sproul on the church and postmodernity
Mark Driscoll on why he left the Emergent church "conversation"...
... and why it's current leaders drive him crazy