More Creative EvangelicalsA tip of the link to Michael Binder over at The Christian Left blog for this story from The Wshington Post. There are two things that struck me about the article, which I would urge you to read. First, at an attempt at "balance", the reporter, Caryle Murphy, managed to interview a conservative evangelical, Don Carson, from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School here in Illinois, who mentioned something in his remarks about "Chrisitian non-negotiables". As far as I know, the only non-negotiable item in the Christian faith is the belief that we are saved from separation from God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; that this act and its salvific fruits are gracious acts, whose acceptance and rejection by us mere mortals are not necessary for them successding in their desired results; and that the Christian life is less about assuring our own place in some heavenly condo complex than it is sacrificing our own comforts, our own "lifestyles", our own lives if need be, to make sure that others know that they are loved. To me, while such dogmatic things as the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and a certain ecclesio-centrism in teaching and holding fast to the teachings of the church are important, they are by no means "non-negotiable", and have never been in the history of Christianity, so I'm not sure what Professor Carson is complaining about.
Second, I thoroughly enjoyed the criticism of the mega-church movement, with its blandness, its sameness, its lack of risk and challenge, and its emphasis on numbers. It seems Rev. Mclaren has managed to achieve a nice-sized church without sacrificing that which makes a church the Church - the message of sacrificial love and hope and faith offered by God through Jesus. I am not saying he is the harbinger of the future, or a perfect representative of a Christian pastor, or that his theology and practice of ministry is perfect. Rather, I am saying that, by embodying a struggle with questions, rather than comforting himself (and others) with false answers, Rev. McLaren has managed to bring together a community that lives that struggle while never surrendering the faith and hope the Church has always represented.