APPENDIX ONE


QUOTATIONS FROM EMERGING CHURCH LEADERS

Please note that these book extracts have been checked against the original publications except in a few instances, which are annotated accordingly. Some quotations have not been included because they cannot be confirmed and there are cases where some quotations supposedly by leading emergents have been inaccurately copied on the internet or incorrectly attributed. Where possible all the following excerpts have been checked and authenticated.

I have also tried to avoid duplicating any of them in different categories, though they may qualify for such inclusion. Very few are repeated more than once.


i. Ambiguous/Misleading
Language – using different meanings for accepted Christian terms:

[Save] In the Bible, save means ‘rescue’ or ‘heal’. It emphatically does not mean ‘save from hell’ or ‘give eternal life after death,’ as many preachers seem to imply in sermon after sermon. Rather its meaning varies from passage to passage, but in general, in any context, save means ‘get out of trouble.’ The trouble could be sickness, war, political intrigue, oppression, poverty, imprisonment, or any kind of danger or evil.”
– Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 101

[Evangelical, Protestant] I suppose I am truly an evangelical Protestant in the sense that I believe we must go back and search the Scriptures and look at them afresh and see if there isn’t something better than what we have been taught. (Italics added)
– Brian McLaren , Out of Ur interview, May 8, 2006 http://www.outofur.com

[Evangelical] I have a number of friends who really like the phrase evangelical Christian and want to keep it, but they’re working very hard to get it back from the conservative definition of it,” says Pagitt. “They want the evangelical impulse to care about the environment, to care about people, to be politically progressive, to be theologically progressive, and they feel like that really represents the evangelical expression.
–  Doug Pagitt, Interview, MPR News, Nov 1, 2006

[Kingdom of God] What Matthew, Mark, and Luke call “the Kingdom of God,” John generally translates into the terms “life,” “eternal life,” or “life to the full.” So let’s consider the possibility that “kingdom of God” is here rendered in yet another kind of parallel language – “house of God” or perhaps “family of God.”
–  Brian McLaren, A Reading of John 14:6 2006
http://www.brianmclaren.net/ECM/archives/McLaren%20-John14.6.pdf
[Repentance] Repentance is what happens when your eyes are opened and you see what has already been done. ‘I’ve missed it, and now I see it’.
Rob Bell (http://www.sfpulpit.com/2007/11/21/rob-bell-the-gods-should-be-angry)

[Born Again] Jesus only ever used the phrase “you must be born-again” twice – and that was in one conversation with the same man – Nicodemus. And yet it has become the basis for one of the most confusing, misused and abused, misunderstood and despised ideas in the history of the Church. For huge numbers of Christians, being ‘born-again’ has become the expression they almost invariably use to speak of the moment when they ‘found Jesus’ and even their subsequent ongoing state. However, for the vast majority of people outside the Church, the term has come to symbolise everything about Christianity they most despise and fear. For them it sums up a type of Christianity that is not only judgemental, bigoted, arrogant and narrow-minded but is also about a ‘them’ and ‘us’; ‘in’ or ‘out’, pharisaic approach to life.

The truth is that when Jesus spoke to Nicodemus (a sincere, questioning and spiritually-seeking Pharisee), he was not using the term ‘born-again’ in the same sense we have come to do. Jesus was simply saying that entering into God’s Kingdom or Shalom is about seeing the world differently and adopting his new agenda. It’s about dropping the crushing, life-draining, religious dogma and discovering the freedom that God loves you as you are and that his Kingdom is available to you. And the point is, this was the journey Nicodemus was already on – after all, why else was he secretly seeking Jesus out in the middle of the night? He is already searching, asking questions; he is catching some of the fire, but he wants to get closer.
– Steve Chalke (http://www.oasischurch.info/papers/centredchurch), dated September 2009

Sometimes  folks (usually of an older persuasion) ask me if I am an evangelical Christian.  As with any label… I want to make sure we have a proper understanding before I answer…. the early evangelists announced another gospel, proclaiming allegiance to another emperor, and conspired to build another kingdom.  If by evangelical we mean one who spreads the good news that there is another kingdom or superpower, an economy and a peace other than that of the nations, a saviour other than Caesar, then yes, I am an evangelical.
– Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution, p. 23


ii. Evasion and Dissembling:

Essential listening for anyone trying to understand the Emerging Church is the Todd Friel two part interview with Doug Pagitt: (1)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0isqLRhClo and (2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfY-i2iXxQ0 . Listen also to Tim Hughes interview with Shane Claiborne (http://www.worshipcentral.org/audio/october-09). Tim asks a really important question which must interest many worship leaders – How does Shane relate/incorporate worship into his work for social justice?  Shane fluffs and talks about protest songs, digresses with a story and doesn’t actually offer an answer to what is fascinating question. Perhaps he does not have one.


iii. Denial that Christian certainty (over truth, doctrine and the scriptures) can be known
(and maintaining that postmodernism dictates this)

Drop any affair you may have with certainty, proof, argument – and replace it with dialogue, conversation, intrigue, and search
–  Brian McLaren, Adventures in Missing the Point, 84

Arguments that pit absolutism versus relativism, and objectivism versus subjectivism, prove meaningless or absurd to postmodern people”
–  Brian McLaren, “The Broadened Gospel,” in “Emergent Evangelism,” Christianity Today 48 [Nov., 2004], p 43.

The ultimate bible study or sermon in recent decades yielded clarity. That clarity unfortunately was also often boring and probably not that accurate, either, since reality is seldom clear but usually fuzzy mysticism, not black and white but in living colour
–  Brian McLaren, Adventures in Missing the Point, 84

But for me…opposing it [Postmodernism] is as futile as opposing the English language.  It’s here. It’s reality. It’s the future…. It’s the way my generation processes every other fact on the event horizon … Postmodernism is the intellectual boundary between the old world and the other side.  Why is it so important? Because when your view of truth is changed, when your confidence in the human ability to know truth in any objective way is revolutionized, then everything changes. That includes theology…
– Brian McLaren, The Church on the Other Side, 70, 60

Because knowledge is a luxury beyond our means, faith is the best we can hope for.  What an opportunity! Faith hasn’t encountered openness like this in several hundred years”
– Brian McLaren, The Church on the Other Side, 173

The Christian faith is mysterious to the core. It is about things and beings that ultimately can’t be put into words. Language fails. And if we do definitively put God into words, we have at that very moment made God something God is not”
Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, p. 32

Emergent doesn’t have a position on absolute truth, or on anything for that matter. Do you show up at a dinner party with your neighbors and ask, ‘What’s this dinner party’s position on absolute truth?’ No, you don’t, because it’s a non-sensical question.
Tony Jones (http://theoblogy.blogspot.com/2005/11/national-youth-workers-convention.html)

[On Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz] At first glance, Dorothy is all wrong as a model of leadership. She is the wrong gender (female) and the wrong age (young). Rather than being a person with all the answers, who knows what’s up and where to go and what’s what, she is herself lost, a seeker, often bewildered, and vulnerable. These characteristics would disqualify her from modern leadership. But they serve as her best credentials for leadership in the emerging culture.
– Brian McLaren, Adventures in Missing the Point, p.158


iv. Refusal to identify as a movement

I generally don’t even use the term movement at this point… I think it’s more of a conversation. It’s a group of people who are talking about the Gospel and church and mission, especially in terms of changes going on in our culture that some people call a shift from modern to postmodern culture.
– Brian McLaren quoted in Leaders call ‘Emerging Church Movement’ a threat to Gospel By David Roach, Baptist Press Mar 23, 2005 http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=20420


v. Refusal to define a Christian in terms of being saved or not saved, ‘in’ or ‘out’
:

Although in many ways I find myself closer to the view of God held by some universalists than I do the view held by some exclusivists, in the end I’d rather turn our attention from the questions WE think are important to the question JESUS thinks is most important…We obsess on “who’s in” and “who’s out.” Jesus, however, seems to be asking the question, “How can the kingdom of God more fully come on earth as it is in heaven, and how should disciples of the kingdom live to enter and welcome the kingdom?
– Brian McLaren, Out of Ur interview, May 8th 2006

(Interviewer) Some people think you’re simply being evasive and not answering plain questions clearly. But you would say that you’re not satisfied with the questions we’re asking because you don’t think we’re asking the questions the Bible is trying to answer. It also sounds like you feel we need to pay more attention to the ethical dimensions of Jesus’ teaching, and that some of our theological discussions distract us from what Jesus focused on. McLaren: Yes, that’s it exactly! I keep coming back to Jesus and his teaching. In the Sermon on the Mount, he says that God is good to the righteous and the unrighteous, and for that reason, we should love everyone, including our enemies. He says we shouldn’t judge or we’ll be judged. That’s a very different attitude than I see so often in our Christian circles, where there’s always this in-group/out-group mentality. And those in the out-group we treat with distance, disdain, or disrespect. How would we like it if God decided to treat us as we’ve treated others?
–  Brian McLaren, Out of Ur, May 8 2006. http://www.outofur.com

For the vast majority of people outside the Church, the term [born again]has come to symbolise everything about Christianity they most despise and fear. For them it sums up a type of Christianity that is not only judgemental, bigoted, arrogant and narrow-minded but is also about a ‘them’ and ‘us’; ‘in’ or ‘out’, pharisaic approach to life. (Italics added)
– Steve Chalke (http://www.oasischurch.info/papers/centredchurch) , post dated September 2009


vi. Questioning/challenging doctrines

What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archaeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births?
But what if, as you study the origin of the word “virgin” you discover that the word “virgin” in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word “virgin” could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being “born of a virgin” also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse?”
Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, p. 26

For too many people the name Jesus has become a symbol of exclusion, as if Jesus’ statement ‘I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me’ actually means ‘I am in the way of people seeking truth and life. I won’t let anyone get to God unless he comes through me… The name Jesus has too often become a symbol of elitism, exclusivity, and aggression
– Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p78


vii. False Dichotomies/Exaggerated stereotypes:

The church has been preoccupied with the question, “What happens to your soul after you die?” As if the reason for Jesus coming can be summed up in, “Jesus is trying to help get more souls into heaven, as opposed to hell, after they die.” I just think a fair reading of the Gospels blows that out of the water. I don’t think that the entire message and life of Jesus can be boiled down to that bottom line.”
– Brian McLaren, from the PBS special on the Emerging Church

Is Jesus the only way? It depends on where we’re trying to go. If we want to abandon the earth as a lost cause and evacuate upward to heaven as soon as possible, I suspect we’re going in a different direction than Jesus.
– Brian McLaren, A Reading of John 14:6
http://www.brianmclaren.net/ECM/archives/McLaren%20-John14.6.pdf

The idea that the world is going down the toilet and that we should just abandon and prepare for evacuation, I think, creates horrible possibilities of injustice. And so, we’re trying to have an eschatology that thrusts us into the world as agents of justice and peace and reconciliation and service, rather than one that makes us stand on the edge with condemnation and judgment, because we’re always planning to depart. –  Brian McLaren, quoted in Ten Questions for Brian McLaren by Terry Heaton. http://www.thepomoblog.com/papers/10Q7.htm

Christianity often has offered little to the world, other than the hope that things will be better in heaven… Most Christian artists and preachers have remained strangely distant from human suffering, offering the world eternal assurance over prophetic imagination.
–  Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution, p.17

If we reduce the bible to an elaborate answer to the question “How does a person go to heaven when he dies?” – if we think this is the big question the whole bible is answering – we’ll be prone to misunderstanding major parts of the bible that were written before that question was on anybody’s mind (like the entire Old Testament)
–Brian McLaren, Adventures in Missing the Point, p. 84-84


viii.  Internal Contradictions (‘There are no absolutes’ is expressed as an absolute)

Emergent doesn’t have a position on absolute truth, or on anything for that matter. Do you show up at a dinner party with your neighbors and ask, ‘What’s this dinner party’s position on absolute truth?’ No, you don’t, because it’s a non-sensical question.
Tony Jones (http://theoblogy.blogspot.com/2005/11/national-youth-workers-convention.html)


ix. Denial of original sin

The church latched on to that old doctrine of original sin like a dog to a stick, and before you knew it, the whole gospel got twisted around it. Instead of being God’s big message of saving love for the whole world, the gospel became a little bit of secret information on how to solve the pesky legal problem of original sin.
– Brian McLaren, The Last Word and the Word After That, p.134

When I was growing up in a moderate, centrist church — somewhere between mainline Christianity and evangelicalism — Original Sin was a given.  I first learned about it in youth group, and we regularly talked about it.  Actually, it’s more accurate to say that we talked about a life with Christ, and the notion of Original Sin was in the background.  It was assumed.  And I cannot remember that it was ever debated.

In other words, I assumed that the doctrine of Original Sin was a biblical notion, and that all Christians accepted it as gospel truth.  Of course, neither is true.

In college, Original Sin was also assumed by the Campus Crusaders and Navigators who ministered to me, as well as in the little bible church that I attended….

I have come to reject the notion of Original Sin.  I consider it neither biblically, philosophically, nor scientifically tenable.
Tony Jones http://blog.beliefnet.com/tonyjones/2009/01/original-sin-a-depraved-idea.html .

Jesus believed in original goodness.
– Steve Chalke, The Lost Message of Jesus, 67

(Original sin is) biblically questionable, extreme, and profoundly unhelpful
–  Dave Tomlinson, The Post-Evangelical, 126.


x. Universalism (‘all are saved’)


The news that the Christian message is universally good news for Christians and non-Christians alike is, to some, unheard of, strange, and perhaps heretical. To me it has become natural and obvious
–  Brian McLaren. A New Kind of Christian, p120

Universalism is not as bankrupt of biblical support as some suggest
– Brian McLaren, The Last Word p.103

I think God will be far more displeased by our carelessness toward the poor, or by our lack of peacemaking, or by our unrecognized racism and nationalism than he will be about whether you’re an exclusivist or not. I think many of us should tremble in light of what God says about caring for the poor, the fatherless, the vulnerable.
–  Brian McLaren, Out of Ur, May 8 2006. www.outofur.com

Missional Christian faith[1] asserts that Jesus did not come to make some people saved and others condemned.  Jesus did not come to help some people be right while leaving everyone else to be wrong. Jesus did not come to create another exclusive religion”
–  Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, 109

So this is reality, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody. Paul insisted that when Jesus died on the cross, he was reconciling “all things, in heaven and on earth, to God.” All things, everywhere. This reality then isn’t something we make come true about ourselves by doing something. It is already true. Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making.
– Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, p. 146

God is going to judge the life and repair, and restore and heal the life of everybody in the same way.
– Doug Pagitt, Interview with Todd Friel on Way of the Master Radio http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0isqLRhClo&feature=PlayList&p=D677D8FA28998D9F&index=2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfY-i2iXxQ0&feature=PlayList&p=D677D8FA28998D9F&index=3

More important to me than the hell question, then, is the mission (in this world) question.
– Brian McLaren, Generous Orthodoxy, 114

This is how I feel when I’m offered a choice between the roads of exclusivism (only confessing Christians go to heaven), universalism (everyone goes to heaven), and inclusivism (Christians go to heaven, plus at least some others). Each road takes you somewhere, to a place with some advantages and disadvantages, but none of them is the road of my missional calling: blessed in this life to be a blessing to everyone on earth.
– Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 113

Although in many ways I find myself closer to the view of God held by some universalists than I do the view held by some exclusivists, in the end I’d rather turn our attention from the questions WE think are important to the question JESUS thinks is most important…We obsess on “who’s in” and “who’s out.” Jesus, however, seems to be asking the question, “How can the kingdom of God more fully come on earth as it is in heaven, and how should disciples of the kingdom live to enter and welcome the kingdom?
– Brian McLaren, Out of Ur interview, May 8th 2006

If you want to explore the varying answers to “the hell question” here are several good resources: William Crockett ed., Four Views on Hell (Zondervan, 1997); Randolph Klassen, What Does The Bible Really Say About Hell? (Herald, 2001) [He]; Philip Gulley and James Mulholland, If Grace Is True, Why Will God Save Every Person (Harper San Francisco, 2003) –  Brian, McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy p.123 (footnote)

[My comment on the above  – BUT out of the three only one (Four Views) presents the standard view of hell and that includes a universalist section. In the second book Klassen rejects the traditional notion of hell as a place of eternal torment for the wicked and Gulley and Mullholland, authors of the third are universalists too. And yet McLaren recommends these as ‘good resources’. They may be but they only represent the point of view he agrees with.]

The reality that God’s spirit dwells in each one of us began to sink in. … over and over the dying and the lepers would whisper the mystical word namaste in my ear. We really don’t have a word like it in English (or even a Western concept of it). They explained to me that namaste means “I honor the Holy One who lives in you.” I knew that I could see God in their eyes.
–  Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution (p.79-80)


xi. Denial of the inerrancy of the Bible:

Let me offer 10 suggestions for reclaiming the Bible for contemporary readers…Drop Any Affair You May Have with Certainty”
–Brian McLaren, Adventures in Missing the Point, p. 81-84

That oft-quoted passage in Second Timothy doesn’t say, ‘All scripture is inspired by God and is authoritative’. It says that scripture is inspired and useful (Authors italics)… We want it [the bible] to be God’s encyclopaedia, God’s rule book, God’s answer book, God’s scientific text, God’s easy steps instruction book, God’s little book of morals for all occasions. The only people in Jesus’ day who would have had anything close to these expectations of the bible would have been the scribes and Pharisees… The whole answer-book approach is what modern people want the bible to be, but it is not necessarily what the bible is… it is book that calls together and helps create a community. A community that is a catalyst for God’s work in our world.
–  Brian McLaren. A New Kind of Christian, p52-53

[From an article on emergents in Fuller Seminary] Biblical inerrancy to this crowd is not so much right or wrong as a divine waste of time. “It’s not where we’re going to land the plane,” says Tony Jones, a Fuller alumnus who is a leader of The Emergent Coalition, an international post-evangelistic group, and a doctoral candidate at Princeton.
–  Tony Jones in the LA Times Nov 23, 2003
http://www.latimes.com/news/education/la-tm-fuller47nov23,1,4077230.story

We must stop looking for some objective Truth that is available when we delve into the text of the Bible.
– Tony Jones, Postmodern Youth Ministry (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 201.

The inerrancy debate is based on the belief that the Bible is the word of God, that the Bible is true because God made it and gave it to us as a guide to truth. But that’s not what the Bible says
– Doug Pagitt, A Christianity Worth Believing, p. 65

Our message and methodology have changed, do change, and must change if we are faithful to the ongoing and unchanging mission of Jesus Christ.
–<Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 214

We do not think this [Emerging Church Movement] is about changing your worship service. We do not think this is about…how you structure your church staff. This is actually about changing theology. This is about our belief that theology changes. The message of the gospel changes. It’s not just the method that changes.
–Tony Jones (“A New Theology for a New World.” A workshop for the 2004 Emergent Convention in San Diego)  (http://www.emergentvillage.com/weblog/happy-reformation-day-was-john-wesley-emergent)

My point in all this is that the doctrine of the Trinity is still on the table. Some people, it seems to me, would like for us to no longer debate certain ‘sacred’ doctrines — the Trinity, the nature of Christ, the nature of scripture, the nature of marriage etc. And these persons tend to get very jumpy when emergent-types discuss these sacrae doctrinae, especially in books and at conferences that are being taped. ‘This is dangerous,’ they say.
–Tony Jones (http://theoblogy.blogspot.com/2004/12/de-trinitate.html)

As in so many issues these days, the problem isn’t the Bible; it’s the assumptions we bring to the Bible about how it is supposed to be interpreted. We make demands of the Biblical writers that we don’t make of any other writers, and I’m not sure our demands are sensible or fair at all. As an analogy, I often refer to the Wizard of Oz in my teaching. Does this mean that I believe Dorothy was a historical figure? No. It means that I accept the story of Oz as being part of our culture, and that I can use it to illustrate truth or provide analogies to truth.
–  Brian McLaren (Source not confirmed – he uses Dorothy as a common device in his teaching so it is most probably correct)

The Christian faith grew through story – not text. Only later did the stories become Scripture. While the Scripture must be held in the highest regard, we must not neglect the power of story.
– Erwin McManus, An Unstoppable Force, p. 118

I can’t see church history in any other way except this: semper reformanda, continually being led and taught and guided by the Spirit into new truth.”
–  Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, 215

In 2005, I attended the Emergent Convention in Nashville. This same seminar was offered, only Tony Jones was unable to co-teach so Pagitt taught alone. In that session, Pagitt made the same argument. He talked about the need to “re-imagine” and “reconstruct” our theology because “we have a changing story” and “God’s story is changing.” Thus, “theology is inherently temporary” – it is “our current best guess.”  During the Q & A, I asked a clarification question to make sure I understood Pagitt’s view. I asked if his view implied that one day we may need to reconstruct our views about the very nature of God. For instance, the idea that Jesus is God Incarnate may actually be completely wrong (after all, it is only our current best guess) and we would need to reconstruct our view of Jesus and God. Here was Pagitt’s answer: “Yeah, probably. Could be. I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that. It’s dangerous.” He went on to say that we are already adjusting our concepts of God – there is an adjustment about who God is and what he is like.
–  Brett Kunkle, Essential Concerns Regarding the Emerging Church (http://www.str.org)


xii. Redefinition of the purpose of the Jesus first coming:

[Many of these quotes could also be included in the sections on False Dichotomies/Exaggerated stereotypes (vii), or Questioning/Challenging Doctrines (vi) in such a way that diminishes their importance ]

“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. (14:1-3)”..

Now before we assume that “my Father’s house” means “heaven” – which it may, but I doubt it – we should at least be open to the possibility that this phrase actually refers to the overall message of Jesus. What Matthew, Mark, and Luke call “the Kingdom of God,” John generally translates into the terms “life,” “eternal life,” or “life to the full.” So let’s consider the possibility that “kingdom of God” is here rendered in yet another kind of parallel language – “house of God” or perhaps “family of God.”
–  Brian McLaren, A Reading of John 14:6 http://www.brianmclaren.net/ECM/archives/McLaren%20-John14.6.pdf

A lot of arguments happen among religious and non religious people about the question of who’s going to hell and who’s going to heaven and uh, a lot of times Christians get into this argument by saying ‘we have the only way to heaven.’ And, people often ask me what do I think is the way to heaven. I have a problem when they ask me this question because it assumes that the primary purpose of Jesus’ coming and the primary message of Jesus was a message about how to get to heaven.”
–Brian McLaren from the PBS special on the Emerging Church (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OH1yOmij7Q4&feature=related, accessed on January 18, 2008)
What if Jesus’ secret message reveals a secret plan? … What if he didn’t come to start a new religion – but rather came to start a political, social, religious, artistic, economic, intellectual, and spiritual revolution that would give birth to a new world?”
– Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus, p. 4[1]

Perhaps our ‘inward-turned, individual-salvation-oriented, un-adapted Christianity’ is a colossal and tragic misunderstanding, and perhaps we need to listen again for the true song of salvation, which is ‘good news to all creation.’ So perhaps it’s best to suspend what, if anything, you ‘know’ about what it means to call Jesus ‘Savior’ and to give the matter of salvation some fresh attention. Let’s start simply. In the Bible, save means ‘rescue’ or ‘heal’. It emphatically does not mean ‘save from hell’ or ‘give eternal life after death,’ as many preachers seem to imply in sermon after sermon. Rather its meaning varies from passage to passage, but in general, in any context, save means ‘get out of trouble.’ The trouble could be sickness, war, political intrigue, oppression, poverty, imprisonment, or any kind of danger or evil.”
– Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 101

Salvation is the entire universe being brought back into harmony with its maker. This has huge implications for how people present the message of Jesus. Yes, Jesus can come into our hearts. But we can join a movement that is as wide and as big as the universe itself. Rocks and trees and birds and swamps and ecosystems. God’s desire is to restore all of it.
–  Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis pp. 109-110.

Jesus only ever used the phrase “you must be born-again” twice – and that was in one conversation with the same man – Nicodemus. And yet it has become the basis for one of the most confusing, misused and abused, misunderstood and despised ideas in the history of the Church. For huge numbers of Christians, being ‘born-again’ has become the expression they almost invariably use to speak of the moment when they ‘found Jesus’ and even their subsequent ongoing state. However, for the vast majority of people outside the Church, the term has come to symbolise everything about Christianity they most despise and fear. For them it sums up a type of Christianity that is not only judgemental, bigoted, arrogant and narrow-minded but is also about a ‘them’ and ‘us’; ‘in’ or ‘out’, pharisaic approach to life.

The truth is that when Jesus spoke to Nicodemus (a sincere, questioning and spiritually-seeking Pharisee), he was not using the term ‘born-again’ in the same sense we have come to do. Jesus was simply saying that entering into God’s Kingdom or Shalom is about seeing the world differently and adopting his new agenda. It’s about dropping the crushing, life-draining, religious dogma and discovering the freedom that God loves you as you are and that his Kingdom is available to you. And the point is, this was the journey Nicodemus was already on – after all, why else was he secretly seeking Jesus out in the middle of the night? He is already searching, asking questions; he is catching some of the fire, but he wants to get closer.
– Steve Chalke (http://www.oasischurch.info/papers/centredchurch), in a website post dated September 2009


xiii. Denial of the existence of hell and judgement

We should consider the possibility that many, and perhaps even all of Jesus’ hell-fire or end-of-the-universe statements refer not to postmortem judgment but to the very historic consequences of rejecting his kingdom message of reconciliation and peacemaking. The destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 67-70 seems to many people to fulfil much of what we have traditionally understood as hell. (Italics added)
–  Brian McLaren’s Inferno 3, Out of Ur, May 2006 (http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2006/05/brian_mclarens_2.html)

The conventional doctrine of hell has too often engendered a view of a deity who suffers from a borderline personality disorder or some worse sociopathic diagnosis:  “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, and if you don’t love God back and cooperate with God’s plans in exactly the prescribed way, God will torture you with unimaginable abuse, forever” – that sort of thing. Human parents who ‘love’ their children with these kinds of implied ultimatums tend to produce the most dysfunctional families… (McLaren follows by saying that Christians who ‘swallow’ such views are neither ‘sane’ nor ‘functional’)
Brian McLaren, The Last Word and the Word After That, Introduction p. xix.

The language of hell, in my view, like the language of biblical prophecy in general, is not intended to provide literal or detailed fortune-telling or prognostication about the hereafter, nor is it intended to satisfy intellectual curiosity, but rather it is intended to motivate us in the here and now to realize our ultimate accountability to a God of mercy and justice and in that light to rethink everything and to seek first the kingdom and justice of God.
– Brian McLaren, The Last Word and the Word After That, pgs.188-189

Isn’t hell such a grave ‘bottom line’ that it devalues all other values? It so emphasizes the importance of life after death that it can unintentionally trivialize life before death. No wonder many people feel that ‘accepting Jesus as a personal Savior’ could make them a worse person — more self-centered and less concerned about justice on earth because of a preoccupation with forgiveness in heaven. Again, although I believe in Jesus as my personal savior, I am not a Christian for that reason. I am a Christian because I believe that Jesus is the Savior of the whole world.
– Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 109

(AN INTERVIEW)
Brian McLaren: This is, one of the huge problems is 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 even the primary—but a primary meaning of the cross is that the kingdom of God doesn’t come like the kingdoms of the this world, by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes through suffering and willing, voluntary sacrifice, right? But in an ironic way, the doctrine of hell basically says, no, that that’s not really true. That in 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.
Interviewer (Leif Hansen): … as you and I know there are so many illustrations and examples you could give that show why the traditional view of hell completely falls in the face of—it’s just antithetical to the cross. But the way you put it there; I love that. It’s false advertising. And here, Jesus is saying, turn the other cheek. Love your enemy. Forgive seven times seventy. Return violence with self-sacrificial love. But if we believe the traditional view of hell, it’s like, well, do that for a short amount of time. Because eventually, God’s gonna get’em.
Brian McLaren: Yeah. And I heard one well-known Christian leader, who—I won’t mention his name, just to protect his reputation, ‘cause some people would use this against him. But I heard him say it like this: The traditional understanding says that God asks of us something that God is incapable of Himself. God asks us to forgive people. But God is incapable of forgiving. God can’t forgive unless He punishes somebody in place of the person He was going to forgive. God doesn’t say things to you—Forgive your wife, and then go kick the dog to vent your anger. God asks you to actually forgive…. And there’s a certain sense that, a common understanding of the atonement presents a God who is incapable of forgiving. Unless He kicks somebody else.
–  Source YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mr8dTvks3Gs

For Jesus, heaven and hell were present realities. Ways of living we can enter into here and now. He talked very little of the life beyond this one. [My comment: Read that again – it implies that there is a definition of hell as ‘something that can be experienced now in this life’, not a future reality/place] When people use the word hell, what do they mean? They mean a place, an event, a situation absent of how God desires things to be. Famine, debt, oppression, loneliness, despair, death, slaughter – they are all hell on earth. Jesus’ desire for his followers is that they live in such a way that they bring heaven to earth. What’s disturbing is when people talk more about hell after this life than they do about hell here and now. As a Christian, I want to do what I can to resist hell coming to earth. Poverty, injustice, suffering – they are all hells on earth.”
– Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, p.147-148


xiv. Denial of the existence of Satan

[In The Story We Find Ourselves In one of the characters McLaren uses to make his points says] If you go back to the most ancient parts of the Old Testament, there is no concept of Satan. The idea comes along much later. It seems to have been borrowed from the Zoroastrians, actually. Maybe it is no sin to think of Satan as a metaphor, a horribly real metaphor for a terribly real force in the universe.
– Brian McLaren, The Story We Find Ourselves In , p.145


xv. Denial that Jesus second coming will include judging the earth:

“We should consider the possibility that many, and perhaps even all of Jesus’ hell-fire or end-of-the-universe statements refer not to postmortem [after death] judgment but to the very historic consequences of rejecting his kingdom message of reconciliation and peacemaking. (Italics added)
–Brian McLaren (http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2006/05/brian_mclarens_2.html)

The phrase “the Second Coming of Christ” never actually appears in the Bible. Whether or not the doctrine to which the phrase refers deserves rethinking, a popular abuse of it certainly needs to be named and rejected. If we believe that Jesus came in peace the first time, but that wasn’t his “real” and decisive coming – it was just a kind of warm-up for the real thing – then we leave the door to envisioning a second coming that will be characterized by violence, killing, domination, and eternal torture. This vision reflects a deconversion, a return to trust in the power of Pilate, not the unarmed truth that stood before Pilate, refusing to fight. This eschatological understanding of a violent second coming leads us to believe (as we’ve said before) that in the end, even God finds it impossible to fix the world apart from violence and coercion; no one should be surprised when those shaped by this theology behave accordingly.
If we remain charmed by this kind of eschatology, we will be forced to see the nonviolence of the Jesus of the Gospels as a kind of strategic fake – out, like a feigned retreat in war, to be followed up by crushing a blow of so – called redemptive violence in the end. The gentle Jesus of the first coming becomes a kind of trick Jesus, a fake – me – out Messiah, to be replaced by the true jihadist Jesus of a violent second coming.
This is why I believe that many of our current eschatologies, intoxicated by dubious interpretations of John’s Apocalypse, are not only ignorant and wrong, but dangerous and immoral.
–  Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change, p. 144

I would argue that in the last couple hundred years, disconnection has been the dominant way people have understood reality. And the Church has contributed to that disconnection by preaching horrible messages about being left behind and that this place is going to burn –absolutely toxic messages that are against the teachings of Scripture, which state that we are connected to God, we are connected to the earth, we are connected to each other.
–Rob Bell (Relevant Magazine, “Rob Bell Tells it like it is,” January/February edition, 2008)


xvi.
Denial of penal substitutionary atonement:

[
Brian McLaren endorses a book which calls Penal Substitution a ‘vile doctrine’] McLaren’s endorsement on the back flap of the book Reimagining Christianity the dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, Alan Jones. He writes: ‘Alan Jones is a pioneer in reimagining a Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality. His work stimulates and encourages me deeply.’

In the book Alan Jones writes: ‘The Church’s fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it. (p. 132)… The other thread of just criticism addresses the suggestion implicit in the cross that Jesus’ sacrifice was to appease an angry god. Penal substitution was the name of this vile doctrine.’ (p. 168)[1]

As Christianity spread the early evangelists recognized they could help the Jesus story make sense if Jesus was seen as someone who was chosen to appease the wrath of God-hence, the ‘anointed one’ who could do what no one else could do
– Doug Pagitt, A Christianity Worth Believing, p.181

The fact is that the cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse—a vengeful father, punishing his son for an offence he has not even committed. Understandably, both people inside and outside of the church have found this twisted version of events morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith. Deeper than that, however, is that such a construct stands in total contradiction to the statement “God is love.” If the cross is a personal act of violence perpetrated by God towards humankind but borne by his son, then it makes a mockery of Jesus’ own teaching to love your enemies and refuse to repay evil with evil.
– Steve Chalke, The Lost Message of Jesus, p182

In Brian McLaren’s book, The Story We Find Ourselves In, his fictional character Kerry, a seeker, ask about Jesus. Carol, the character who is set up to portray the type of Christianity that McLaren objects to, answers with a summary of substitutionary atonement: “Well, I believe that God sent Jesus into the world to absorb all the punishment for our sins. That’s what the cross was all about. It was Jesus absorbing the punishment that all of us deserve. He became the substitute for all of us. As he suffered and died, all our wrongs were paid for, so all of us can be forgiven.” Kerry responds: “For starters, if God wants to forgive us, why doesn’t he just do it? How does punishing an innocent person make things better? That just sounds like one more injustice in the cosmic equation. It sounds like divine child abuse. You know?”  (Italics added)
–  Brian McLaren, The Story We Find Ourselves In, p. 143

xvii. Denial of, or downplaying,  the need to be born again:

Doesn’t [emphasising] the very importance of my personal salvation pose a kind of temptation – to want heaven more than I want good; to want to escape hell more than I want reconciliation with my neighbours?
Brian McLaren – A Generous Orthodoxy p.108

[Pagitt on those who find the new theology upsetting] This can come as a shock to those Christians who are so used to hearing that Jesus is the solution to sin that they assume that the remedy started with the death of Jesus. The Jewish Tradition tells us otherwise”
– Doug Pagitt A Christianity Worth Believing, p. 163

For a good example of portraying conversion as joining a movement not being born again, see Rob Bell’s Nooma video ‘You’ http://www.viddler.com/explore/GoodNewsTo/videos/12/

[Born Again] Jesus only ever used the phrase “you must be born-again” twice – and that was in one conversation with the same man – Nicodemus. …The truth is that when Jesus spoke to Nicodemus (a sincere, questioning and spiritually-seeking Pharisee), he was not using the term ‘born-again’ in the same sense we have come to do. Jesus was simply saying that entering into God’s Kingdom or Shalom is about seeing the world differently and adopting his new agenda.
– Steve Chalke (http://www.oasischurch.info/papers/centredchurch), dated September 2009


xviii. Pacifism based upon abandonment of penal substitutionary atonement:

[In support of universalism] Exclusivism can spin off all kinds of terrible problems, too. It can create a view of God as vengeful torturer, and that has played a role, I believe, in horrible behavior on the part of Western Christians – from anti-Semitism to slavery and racism and holy-war mentality. In other words, if we can identify some people as God’s enemies, hated by God for all eternity, we can find ourselves directly disobeying Jesus’ clear teachings about loving our neighbors and our enemies.
–  Brian McLaren, Out of Ur, May 8 2006. www.outofur.com

..Far from being an esoteric and speculative distraction, our beliefs about the end toward which things are moving profoundly and practically shapes our present behavior. This is especially true in regard to violence and war, and is one of the reasons many of us have been increasingly critical in recent years of popular American eschatology in general, and conventional views of hell in particular. Simply put, if we believe that God will ultimately enforce his will by forceful domination, and will eternally torture all who resist that domination, then torture and domination become not only permissible but in some way godly. The implication for, say, military policy (not to mention church politics) are not hard to imagine… This eschatological understanding of a violent second coming leads us to believe (as we’ve said before) that in the end, even God finds it impossible to fix the world apart from violence and coercion; no one should be surprised when those shaped by this theology behave accordingly
–  Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change, p. 144


xix. Non-exclusivity of Christianity (Other religions a possible way to God)
:

I don’t hope all Jews or Hindus will become members of the Christian religion. But I do hope all who feel so called will become Jewish or Hindu followers of Jesus.
– Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 297

I must add, though, that I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts.”
– Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 260

But what of “No one comes to the Father except through me?” Clearly, taken in context, these words are not intended as an insult to followers of Mohammed, the Buddha, Lao Tsu, Enlightenment rationalism, or anybody or anything else. Rather, the “no one” here refers to Jesus’ own disciples, who seem to want to trust some information – a plan, a diagram, a map, instruc­tions, technique – so they can get to God or the kingdom of God without or apart from Jesus, since he has just told them he is leaving them for a while at least.
– Brian McLaren, A Reading of John 14:6,http://www.brianmclaren.net/ECM/archives/McLaren%20-John14.6.pdf

I have noticed that John 14:6 is often quoted out of context so that it seems to say, “I am in the way of your getting to truth and life. I will keep everyone from getting to the Father unless they get by me first.” One would think that the context reads like this:  You should be very troubled, because if you believe in God, but not me, if you believe in God, but not me, you will be shut out of my Father’s house in heaven…”
– Brian McLaren, A Reading of John 14:6,http://www.brianmclaren.net/ECM/archives/McLaren%20-John14.6.pdf

During his lifetime, Abraham—like Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad—had an encounter with God that distinguished him from his contemporaries and propelled him into a mission, introducing a new way of life that changed the world. (Italics added)
Brian McLaren, Finding Our Way Again, p. 22

To help Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, and everyone else experience life to the full in the way of Jesus (while learning it better myself), I would gladly become one of them (whoever they are) to whatever degree I can, to embrace them, to join them, to enter into their world without judgment but with saving love, as mine has been entered by the Lord. I do this because of my deep identity as a fervent Christian, not in spite of it.
– Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus, 4-8[1]

(The Christian faith) should become (in the name of Jesus Christ) a welcome friend to other religions of the world, not a threat. We should be seen as a protector of their heritages, a defender against common enemies, not one of the enemies. Just as Jesus came originally not to destroy the law but to fulfil it, not to condemn people but to save them, I believe he comes today not to destroy or condemn anything (anything but evil) but to redeem and save everything that can be redeemed or saved”  [My comment – does this mean Jesus ‘can redeem and save’ occult animist religions?]
–  Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, 258.


xx.  Tolerance of sinful behaviour and acceptance of practising homosexuality:

“Anytime someone makes you feel guilty about how you are living, that is part of the old system (pre-Christ).” –Rob Bell (Reported by someone present at the event)
(http://www.sfpulpit.com/2007/11/21/rob-bell-the-gods-should-be-angry)

Compromise (like tolerance) is a dirty word for many Christians. It suggests a lowering of standards. But it is a beautiful word (like tolerance) of you are trying to live in community with others, with Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience in dynamic tension. In this light, compromise and tolerance suggest keeping a high (uncompromised!) standard of unity and a high level of respect for your brothers and sisters who disagree with you. I acknowledges that everyone will not reach the same conclusion at the same pace on every issue. So Anglicans are practiced in compromise, in making room for each other when Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience don’t line up for everybody in exactly the same way.
–  Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 211

“I now believe that GLBTQ [Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer & questioning] can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (as least as much as any of us can!), and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state.”
–Tony Jones (http://blog.beliefnet.com/tonyjones/2008/11/same-sex-marriage-blogalogue-h.html#more)

I hesitate in answering “the homosexual question” not because I’m a cowardly flip-flopper who wants to tickle ears, but because I am a pastor, and pastors have learned from Jesus that there is more to answering a question than being right or even honest: we must also be . . . pastoral. That means understanding the question beneath the question, the need or fear or hope or assumption that motivates the question… Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say ‘it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.’….Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements.
– Brian McLaren on the Homosexual Question, Out of Ur, Jan. 2006

[My comment: As Mark Driscoll has observed, while this at first sounds reasonable it actually denies that the scriptures give clear guidance and is pastorally devastating for those Christians struggling to resist homosexual urges now. ‘Come back in five years’ is not much help. Any statement by a pastor that refuses to prohibit homosexual behaviour can only imply it is permissible under certain circumstances. ‘No comment’ is a comment]

What if there are thousands of John Calvins out there…. what if God decided to make a lot of them gay?”
– Brian McLaren, Lecture at Princeton Theological Seminary, Nov. 2005
http://pomomusings.com/2005/11/16/brian-mclarens-lecture-at-princeton-theological-seminary/

(On gay marriage) You know what, the thing that breaks my heart is that there’s no way I can answer it without hurting someone on either side.”
– Brian McLaren, Time magazine interview, February 2005

Brian McLaren’s view: No one is allowed to talk about it unless they have enough points:

“10 if you have considered and studied the relevant biblical passages
10 if you have actually read the six passages about homosexuality in the bible
20 if you have read other passages that might affect the way you read those six passages
5 if you have read one or more books that reinforce the position you already hold
25 if you have read one or more books arguing the opposite position
10 if you have spent three hours reading websites showing a variety of views
50 for every friend you have who’s been through an ex-gay ministry
50 for every friend who’s been through an ex-gay ministry that didn’t work
50 for every friend who’s gay and in a long-term committed relationship
50 for every friend who’s gay and not in a committed relationship
50 for every parent you’ve listened to whose child is gay
When you have 3,000 points, you can speak on the issue.”
–Brian McLaren, Generous Orthodoxy Conference: The Gay Forum, 2005


[1] Jones’s book continues in the same vein, perhaps most startlingly with: ‘I discovered that the nice woman next to me on a plane recently is a witch who values the spirits in trees, rivers, and mountains.  She struck me as strong and gentle and full of love.  I thought, “How great to be a member of such an interesting and caring family” ’ (p. 22)

One Response to “Appendix One – Quotations from Emerging Church Leaders”

  1. kesh Says:

    They are ambigious as they are not arrogant enough to boast they know God and the Bible 100% and understand everything fully. The Pharisees were masters of understanding the Bible fully.


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