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Apr 18, 2008

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Rob

Michael:

Very gracious for you to let Brian have the last word.

As the series went on, I wondered if it was a good idea for me to keep reading. One wants to guard one's heart and not be reactive against people who are well meaning. It was getting hard to do that.

But, I must say, the book became an effective foil for you to present the contrasting view. Well done.

Most discouraging is McLaren’s seeming shift regarding the supernatural. In The Secret Message of Jesus, McLaren affirmed signs and wonders as real and supernatural signs of the kingdom. He has also distinguished himself from theological liberals in that they deny the supernatural aspects of scripture. Seemingly he no longer affirms supernatural aspects of Jesus' ministry, as per his thoughts on the feeding of the five-thousand event and his recent comments on the existence of demons. So what’s the distinguishing feature now?

Michael W. Kruse

Thanks Rob. I'm didn't mean to indicate I was done with the series. (Two posts, possibly three, to go.)

I know what you mean about guarding your heart when people have good intentions. This book truly angers me but I don't know the author and can't presume to know his heart. I’m struggling mightily with how to frame my final remarks. I want to avoid being snarky but communicate my level of concern about this book.

McLaren is exceedingly vague about the role of the church or the role of God in the shaping of events. At the end of the book he presents a vision that could be interpreted to mean that we evolve into the New Creation as opposed to the New Creation coming at a distinct transformative moment. It’s just like with the loaves and fishes. He doesn't say it wasn't supernatural. He just talks in generalities but articulates the key point that those who don't believe in a supernatural interpretation would take. It is similar here.

One of things I find very distasteful about liberal theologians my Mainline tradition is the practice of using the same language as more traditional Christians while teaching contrary to what they know is believed. Challenge that they are speaking against supernatural occurrence and they “Protest I didn’t deny a supernatural occurrence. You’re overreacting.” But neither do they affirm it. Then, once enough of these teachings are transformed into platitudes devoid of historical reality, you just help folks connect they dots that none of those supernatural realities were there.

Personally, I think it is plausible with the loaves and fishes that there wasn’t a miracle of physics but when I’m writing about it I’m going to tell you that our least tell you I’m not sure which way it is. Several places in McLaren’s book give me this uneasy sense that less than full disclosure is being used manipulatively, all with plausible deniability.

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