Friday, July 17, 2009

mclaren's miss

In The Method, The Message, and The On-Going Story, Brian McLaren writes tells of this man, Sam, who, after some time of tending to the plants at McLaren’s church, approached the pastor and asked him if he was curious why Sam had never visited the church he volunteered to do work for. McLaren, approached by such a question, is of course curious and quite alarmed by Sam’s answer. Sam tells McLaren that he is Jewish and is not interested in Christianity because “I was listening to one of your evangelical preachers on the television, and he said that if Hitler had said a little prayer so that he accepted Jesus into his heart or some such nonsense, then all the wrong he did wouldn’t matter and he’d go straight to Heaven.”

McLaren rightly acknowledges that this sort of “gospel presentation” seems to make God sound unjust, reduces Christianity to easy-believism, and trivializes the Holocaust. Sam continues by describing how his son had decided to go to Israel to join the Israeli army, knowing it was dangerous but wanting to assist his people in their struggles. one night, Sam’s son came across a group of fellow soldiers who were harassing a Palestinian man by calling him names, roughing him up a bit, and brandishing knives, telling the Palestinian man that if he was going to live in the land then he needed to be circumcised. Sam’s son was disgusted by this, encouraged them to stop, and when they wouldn’t he pulled his rifle on the other soldiers. this gave the Palestinian man the chance to run away, at Sam’s son’s command, and Sam’s son apologized for his fellow soldiers’ behavior. the next day, Sam’s son was arrested, held in prison for a good while, was put on trial, was exonerated from any wrong doing, and even received a letter praising him for doing the right thing. after telling this story, Sam’s question for McLaren was this: “Would your God send my boy to hell because he never said, ‘Jesus save me,’ but he’d let Hitler go to Heaven for saying the magic words? Is that what you believe, like that TV preacher?”

McLaren’s response: “I didn’t answer his question; I didn’t know how.”

He doesn’t seem to recall exactly what he said, but he says, “I said something like this: ‘Sam, i think your son acted a lot like Jesus would have acted. Jesus cared for the outsiders, just as your son did, and Jesus gave up his life to protect us all, just as your son risked his life for that guy. So i think your son was following Jesus’ example, and I can see why you’re so proud of him. Really, i think God feels about Jesus a lot like you feel about your son. And i know God must be proud of your son too.”

Here, McLaren communicates that the Gospel is being a generally good and moral person. The Gospel is acting in a way and living in such a way as to hope that God will be “proud” of you when you stand before His throne to give an account for your life. McLaren has given Sam false hope in a false gospel. instead of answering the negative version of “what must i do to be saved” with the response that Jesus would have been “proud” of, McLaren follows the Pharisees and Judaizers in presenting a gospel of works-righteousness to Sam, a gospel which condemned in the New Testament.

As noted in the previous post, the postmodern innovators of today are returning to works based righteousness under the guise a wrongly defined notion of love.

Galations 2:21; "do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose."

Jesus had a similar encounter as McLaren. See John 3. Jesus told Nicodemus that his good life was not good enough. That he was a sinner like everyone else. And that he, like everyone else, must receive the gift of regeneration.

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