Thursday, May 21, 2009

Generous Orthodoxy 7-8 Post-Protestant, Conservative/Liberal

Brief thoughts on two more chapters of Brian McLaren's Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a missional + evangelical + post/protestant + liberal/conservative + mystical/poetic + biblical + charismatic/contemplative + fundamentalist/calvinist + anabaptist/anglican + methodist + catholic + green + incarnational + depressed-yet-hopeful + emergent + unfinished CHRISTIAN."

Previous reviews include:

0. Foreward, Introduction, Chapter 0
1-4. chapters 1-4, "Why I Am a Christian"
5-6 Missional and Evangelical

Now Chapter 7: "Why I am a Post-Protestant"

Here McLaren gives two meanings for "Protestant": Protestant as Protest and Protestant as Pro-Testifying.

On Protestant as Protesting, McLaren agrees that there were indeed reasons to protest some Roman Catholics in the 1500's. Indeed, he points out that Roman Catholics today would agree.

Then he notes that Protestants started protesting each other. They had opened a consumer model of Christianity where you market your version and compete with the others for consumers. You compete over interpretations of the Bible.

As Pro-testifiers or post-Protestants, McLaren suggests we become better known for what we stand for rather than what we stand against. He hopes we'll get over a restorationist attitude that sees our little group as the true, righteous remnant. Moses offered to die for those who weren't in the remnant when he had a chance to be the remnant. He didn't gloat in his remnantness.

Chapter 8: "Why I am a Liberal/Conservative"
No doubt some will have trouble with McLaren's attempt to applaud what he sees the good in both conservatives and liberals. The liberals, he argues, have dealt with many challenges before conservatives. Liberals tried to address evolution before conservatives. Liberals were tackling civil rights and women's rights when many conservatives were embarrassingly fighting on the wrong side of the issue.

But conservatives have spirit and drive and get stuff done, while liberals can tend to fade away in ineffectiveness and withering congregations. Liberals had civil religion in the first half of the 1900s. The conservatives had it the second half.

He ends the chapter with a parable meant to show how that both have aimed to address similar problems, but both have failed to address them on their own. Perhaps they could regroup and help each other the rest of the way.

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