Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, Question 5, Part 1

What is the gospel?

In this section Brian reveals how liberalism grows in orthodox churches.  He says that at the beginning of their movement, he and his friends were “peace-loving people” who didn’t “want to needlessly upset anyone,” so they thought, ‘Maybe this new understanding can simply be added to what we already have, gradually, gently, so people won’t even notice…Maybe we can simply add this kingdom-of-God stuff as fine print on the bottom of our existing theological contracts…without upsetting anyone.”

Brian writes that “Many are still working with this hope, and I wish them luck”—which should be a wake-up call to us all.  Brian says that for his part he can no longer pretend, for “the cat is out of the bag” and it’s time to be honest about his new Christianity and admit that it can’t be crammed into the traditional way the church has believed in God.

Brian’s description here reminds me of Karl Barth’s description of natural theology, which Barth equated with liberalism.  Barth complains that natural theology is never satisfied until it gains a monopoly.  He illustrates this with the story of Jezebel who selfishly stole Naboth’s vineyard.  “In her, natural theology, which is usually so mild and easygoing and tolerant, unsheathes its claws and becomes intolerant and militant and vicious.  Jezebel has seen that her Baal can never be a guest but must always be lord, that if we give him a finger we cannot deny him the hand, and then the arm, and then the whole self” (Church Dogmatics, IV/1, 455).

Here’s the lesson:  the easiest time to stop liberal theology is before it flowers and gains a following.  If we make room for liberal questions it won’t be long before we’ll be asked to tolerate liberal answers.  The little bit of liberalism that we tolerate today will eventually grow to become the dominant view.  At least that’s the plan, according to Brian.  We’ve been warned.

Postscript:  some have asked why my reviews of A New Kind of Christianity have been critical.  Isn’t there something positive to say about it?  That’s a bit like asking, “Otherwise, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?” or “C’mon Paul, the Judaizers got something right, didn’t they?”  (If you want to see negative, read Galatians 1, 1 Timothy 1, or anything in Jude).

Brian does rightly remind us to love each other, but this salient point is overwhelmed by his deconstruction of the Christian faith.  As an evangelical elder statesman shared with me yesterday, “Brian fails every one of Machen’s tests.”  This is my point in chapter 12 of Don’t Stop Believing, but you can see for yourself.  Pick up a copy of Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism, written in 1923, and you’ll see that what Brian is saying isn’t exactly new, and according to Machen, it isn’t even Christian.

52 Comments

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  1. So what’s the plan, Mike? Beatings, intimidation, kidnapping and imprisonment like Athanasius in the “good old days”?

  2. In this case I would rather think Athansius himself would approve of a ‘good ole fashion McLaren tail-whopping’.

    But, perhaps sadly, we live in more civilized times.

    Mike, I’ve benefited from this series on McLaren, though I leave each time saddened in seeing how far he has fallen from the faith. Many of us suspected for years that McLaren held these beliefs, at least now he is honest enough to put them in print. Still, I keep hoping to find some point where I can say, “see, even though he is wrong on much, this statement proves he is still one of us”. Sadly, 1 John 2:19 keeps reciting itself in my ear.

    Thanks for your thoughtful response Dr Machen, er, I mean Dr. Wittmer

  3. Jeff:

    Really? Violence is all we know? Maybe we’ll follow the example of Machen from 80 years ago: politely ask the Liberals to leave, since they are obviously so uncomfortable, and when they refuse (which they will) the orthodox faithful can move on to protect their Christian integrity. Jesus warned his disciples against allowing just a little yeast of false teaching to infiltrate their beliefs. It seems to me that if Jesus wanted to maintain a certain level of purity in Christian teachings then we, who bear his name, ought to do the same.

  4. Jeff, how about some good old fashioned rebuke?

  5. Brian should do us a favor and change the name of his book so as not to mention Christianity. He obviously does not espouse the most basic Christian beliefs so why would he want to refer to it.

    Perhaps he can go with “McLarianity” or better yet “Bri-ianity”. He can use his non- seminary education to write a whole new religion.

    And Jeff – I think you missed the point concerning questions – Brian has a great mastery of language and is not ignorant of Christianity. If my 20 year old son is asking me the same questions as my 4 year old – he has a problem. At a certain point – a question becomes bad – coming from certain people.

  6. I was been sarcastic. But I sadly worry about where this is headed. Phyllis Tickle speaks of her hope that we might get through this “500-year rummage sale” without bloodshed, unlike all the other “church adjustments” in the past. Those “tactics” of Athanasius and others in the early Roman Empire church are what makes ME question all of the doctrines and creeds that were politically motivated and coerced.

    I want to hear what the silenced voices of the post-313 church where saying. I want to read the texts, such as those from the Nag Hammadi discovery that the Roman church wanted destroyed, that the pre-313 churches widely read and held as sacred. I am so sick of all the self-proclaimed fundamentalist “gate-keepers” that want to snuff out and silence anyone searching for what very well could be a more authentic faith. It was a whole lot easier to snuff out the “heretics” when Christianity was a Military-Empire religion and I guess that’s why you hear the cry to “take God back for America” (like we were ever really a “Christian Nation”).

    So, I really want to know what Mike’s “plan” is to silence those searching for what a more authentic faith might look like…

  7. (I was BEING sarcastic)

  8. And I DO think Brian mis-titled his book (and it seems somewhere in his book his admits his uneasiness with it). It is NOT about a “new” Christianity, it is a re-discovery of an ancient Christianity that has been buried and left for dead (or in a river with a cement block around its ankle). I personally don’t have an issue with being called a “non-Christian” if I don’t sign on to every bullet point of the Nicene creed – I rather like the term “Hopeful Skeptic” anyway (thanks, Nick!).

  9. Jeff,

    His plan is to post a review on a blog, and call us to deeper biblical discernment. Oddly, the only mentioning anything about “silencing” others is you. The word “silence” appears no where in Mike’s post. Your question reminds me of the old “have you stopped beating your wife?” ploy. In the very question lays the unfounded accusation.

    Not quite sure where your hearing any calls for coercion, suppression, or violence. Since you cite the violence of the early church period, and the violence by Athanasius in particular, would you also being willing to cite the violence by the hand of the non-orthodox–which Athanasius himself was subject to? How about all the others who were killed, tortured, and banished by those seeking to force Arian-theology upon the church?

    Thus, not only the “fundamentalist”, but also the “liberals” have been historically guilty of such violence. Would you be willing to go to McLaren’s blog and post the same thing you posted on Mike’s?

    Furthermore, if you want to read the Nag Hammadi, then go get a copy and read it. No one is stopping you. While your at it, feel free to read the scores of other gnostic documents from that period—-many of which are available online for free, or can be easily purchased. There is no Inquistition stopping you.

    Yet, where did you learn that pre-313 churches held the Nag Hammadi writings as “sacred”? That is a broad generalization that betrays a lack of familiarity with the period. There was gnostic groups, to be sure. The apostle’s themselves battled against the beginning of this movement—Paul and John, for example, wrote strenously against such teachings. Later, the church had to deal with the movement when it became any stronger. These gnostic groups—which you seem to portray as the peace-loving victims of cruel orthodoxy, were the very ones forcing themselves, quite violently, upon the church.

  10. Thanks again, another post that turns me to google to try and figure out what is being discussed. Great job on the series of causing people to think. I think and hope that is what it does

  11. The idea this what we are seeing is a “rediscovery of an ancient Christianity” is a fantasy. It contradicts the earliest witnesses we have to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ – the canonical Gospels – and relies on an elaborate conspiracy theory that has no basis in history.

    This is not really surprising as so much in the “emerging church” depends on an ignorance of Scripture, theology and Church history. It is therefore no wonder that then movement’s leaders work so hard to discredit serious academic study of these subjects.

    Keep up the good work Mike!

  12. Josh – Mike said in this post:
    “Here’s the lesson: the easiest time to stop liberal theology is before it flowers and gains a following. If we make room for liberal questions it won’t be long before we’ll be asked to tolerate liberal answers. The little bit of liberalism that we tolerate today will eventually grow to become the dominant view. At least that’s the plan, according to Brian. We’ve been warned.”

    Maybe he doesn’t use the word “silence”, but how can you deny that is the message?!

    I agree with you on the violence of BOTH sides in the post-313 church – that’s why I want to learn from the PRE-313 church which was NON-VIOLENT in the Way of Jesus! And, yes, I HAVE read many of the Nag Hammadi texts and enjoy them VERY much!

    Sacred: considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion; or inspiring awe or reverence among believers in a given set of spiritual ideas

  13. Rob,

    Exactly! Even though that claim is bantered around alot, no one provides a single shred of documentation. Exactly how is the emergent church like the early gnostic movement? Since the emergent church says it is reacting to a Plantonic worldview, have they forgetton that every single heresy in the early church HELD to a plantonic view (in opposition to the non-plantonic view of the Church)? How is McLaren’s movement an attempt to escape the materialistic universe–which was the chief aim of these non-orthodox Early Church movements? There was nothing in the Early Church period anything like what McLaren is suggesting.

    However, he is quite similar to Lucretius the ancient Roman Philosopher, who argued for a form of atheism—though McLaren doesn’t seem as extreme. Whereas Lucretius would deny all gods, McLaren seem content to allow a single, soft, benign God–yet one of which we cannot really know anything.

    I see no similiarities to the early church period (even among the non-orthodox groups), but I see an almost precise exactness (sometimes verbatim) to David Hume, Schleiermacher, William Ellery Channing, Adolf von Harnack, Fosdick, Paul Tillich, John Hick, and even John Shelby Spong.

    If by “ancient” we mean 1800-1900’s, then I guess so.

  14. Jeff:

    I welcome any question from someone who is seeking to know the truth, but I expect leaders of the Christian church to teach the orthodox faith. If they do not hold to such faith then they should be honest and say they are leading something else besides the church of Christ. I do not condone silencing, persecuting, or water boarding such people. They are free to believe and say anything they want. Let’s just not pretend that they are promoting the way of Jesus.

  15. Jeff,

    Could he simply mean by “stop” the idea that we shouldn’t tolerate views in our churches that deny our deeply held biblical beliefs?

    How your reading into this visions of whips, chains, torture, and violence I just don’t see.

    Now, if you want to create a whole new religion—have at it. But enough of this nonesense about insisting on joining a Christian church while simulanteously insisting on the right to change everything it believes in.

    Why not join a liberal congregation and start teaching the innerancy of scripture, a literal Hell, and that salvation is impossible outside of Christ’s atoning work on the cross—do that and then let me know how tolerant they are.

  16. Mike – you don’t condone silencing such people? Then maybe you should rephrase this (emphasis mine):
    “Here’s the lesson: the easiest time to STOP liberal theology is before it flowers and gains a following. IF WE MAKE ROOM for liberal questions it won’t be long before we’ll be asked to tolerate liberal answers. The little bit of liberalism that we tolerate today will eventually grow to become the dominant view. At least that’s the plan, according to Brian. We’ve been warned.”

    And by this definition, it sounds like you ARE doing a bit of “persecuting” in this blog series: to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment, esp. because of religion, race, or beliefs; harass persistently.

    I’m just hoping you don’t have access to waterboard equipment!🙂

  17. I don’t see any value in both deriding McLaren’s lack of seminary training and taking his assessment that his path away from where he came from is inevitable. If he’s not a theological expert then we shouldn’t give “that” much weight to his theological opinions.

    The liberal/conservative distinctions are not helpful. They’re too derisive and not geared enough to the life of the church.

    The answer is a missiological focus that posits a dialectical relationship between doxy and praxy, which unfortunately gets subverted by ecclesial rivalry.

    dlw

  18. This phrase seems troubling: “If we make room for liberal questions it won’t be long before we’ll be asked to tolerate liberal answers.”

    It’s troubling for its over-simplicity, I mean who gets to define the term “liberal questions?” Could you be more specific? Wouldn’t even certain ‘orthodox’ groups define this question differently?

    In some churches the idea that the bible is composed and not dropped down out of the sky with a little bow is considered a liberal question or noting the differences between the gospel accounts is seen as ‘being liberal.’

    I guess that whole paragraph was so generic it wasn’t helpful in my reading. Although I will say that I have appreciated the recent posts and even the one after this one.🙂

  19. Jeff Straka,

    Your last post reminded me of the Constitutional Peasants from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail:” “Help! Help! I’m bein’ repressed!”

    And just as phony. Quit accusing Dr. Wittmer of violence (or of wanting to do violence) when he has clearly stated that he has no intention of doing anything that you accuse him of wanting to do. Athanasius and company dealt with heresy after the manner of their time; and yes, it wasn’t pretty. Modern Christians deal with Christianity after the manner of our time: kicking false teachers out of our churches, and sternly rebuking them. We live in a milder age.

  20. Oops! I meant to say, “Modern Christians deal with HERESY after the manner of our time…”

  21. Ben – I NEVER accused Mike of leaning towards violence. My waterboard reference was “tongue and cheek” and was following by smiley icon, which may not have shown up on your computer.

  22. But you are accusing him of persecuting people.

    Quote: “it sounds like you ARE doing a bit of “persecuting” in this blog series: to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment, esp. because of religion, race, or beliefs; harass persistently.”

  23. Jeff, Thanks for emerging with the Phyllis Tickle quote! You remind me of a mormon who came to my door in the U.P. a number of years ago. It was very clear which of the books that he held in his hand was more precious to him. There were no problems discussing the Word of God, however, the book of mormon was off limits.

  24. Josh – are you telling me the post series DOESN’T sound like harassment (to trouble by repeated attacks)?

    Yooper – Ya hey der. Huh?

  25. Jeff,

    Are you telling me that your comments don’t sound like harassment?

    What’s good for the goose….

    Seriously, is “harassment” now defined as “disagreeing strongly with”? In that case Gandhi harassed the British (he was rather a bit of a pest to them, to be sure). If your definition of persecution can include the actions of Gandhi, then perhaps your definition needs to be reworked.

    If Mike is persecuting McLaren, then you are persecuting Mike. Actually, with your definition I’m persecuted every day by my kids (and sometimes even my wife). In fact, a few days ago the local school teacher disagreed with me on a political issue—-persecution! And since it was a public school teacher it was governmental persecution!

    Call the Voice of the Martyrs and tell them to put Brian McLaren and Josh Gelatt on this list.

  26. Jeff,

    FWIW I would suggest that you just stick to refuting Mike’s arguments, and you will get a better hearing, you will offer something to interact with.

  27. Regarding the belief that somehow the Nag Hammadi findings reveal how Christianity was hijacked, please read the Bishop of Durham, N.T. Wright as he rather destroys that Dan Brown-like argument. As only he could.

  28. Sorry. Forgive me. I’m sure Dr. Wittmer would be able to, as well.

  29. So,

    1. Disagreeing with a (new) theological position is the same as persecuting it.

    2. The Nag Hammadi represents original Christianity.

    3. Those who hold to orthodox faith are the “bad guys who violently suppress all others”.

    Boys and girls, this is the crap people believe when reading too much of Dan Brown.

  30. All this talk of “persecution” reminds me of an old Sacred Sandwich post about an updated version of the Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (the “American Edition”).

    http://sacredsandwich.com/archives/3278

  31. My question (for some time) has been this:
    If we can agree that none of us here, in these times, would ever THINK of killing another for what we perceived as heresy, and if we can agree that nowhere in the Bible does it show Jesus picking up a sword and killing any that persecuted him, and if we can agree that nowhere in the Bible does it show any of Jesus’ followers picking up a sword for retribution for Jesus’ crucifixion, nor those that were now hunting them down…IF we can agree on this…

    …why do we not at least QUESTION some of the creeds and doctrines that were FORMED by people who DID violence to others, who DID maim and murder those opposed to them, even the revered John Calvin? Do we just write it of to “well they were just a more violent time”? REALLY? It was a more violent time than the time of JESUS? Can’t we at LEAST admit there is room to doubt the legitimacy of some of these “core” doctrines and creeds under the conditions they were formed?

  32. “Can’t we at LEAST admit there is room to doubt the legitimacy of some of these “core” doctrines and creeds under the conditions they were formed?”

    No.

    The actions of some of those involved in “forming” orthodox creeds and doctrines are unrelated to the creeds and doctrines, unless you can show that a particular creed led to their behavior. Man is sinful, no surprise there (unless you’re a McLarenite). So why would it surprise us that some followers of Christ weren’t always Christ-like?

    Stick to the script (i.e. the Bible) and leave aside the ad hominem attacks. As Martin said, try refuting Mike’s points rather than some scary Calvinist from centuries past.

  33. Jeff, but Creeds are not authorities in and of themselves (the only ones that believe that are the Roman Catholics, though some ardent Protestant groups get close to that mindset). They only have authority INSOFAR as they align with Scripture.

    Now, if you would agree that scripture is completely authoritative, then we have a place to begin the conversation. If you reject this, then there is no point in finishing the conversation.

    Therefore, if we accept a Creed/Confession, we are simply saying we believe it accuractely summarizes Scripture’s teaching on a particular matter (such as: the Diety of Chrsit, the Diety of the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, Christ’ substitutionary atonement, authority of scripture, reality of heaven/hell, the nature of the church, etc).

    Since the Creeds/Confessions are not, in themselves, authoritative, then a flaw in those who formulated them shouldn’t pull the rug out from underneath us (though we may rightly condemn their actions).

    Yet somehow you seem to think that the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed were written knee-deep in human blood. That simply isn’t historically accurate. In fact, many of those who attended the Nicene Council bore the marks of persecution upon their own bodies—delivered to them by the hands of both religious and civil groups.

    Still, I don’t believe in the reality of Hell because a creed says it. I believe it because Jesus said it. I don’t believe in the second coming because some pastor in 325 wrote about it. I believe it because it is promised, repeatedly, in scripture. Etc. Etc.

    The issue with Mclaren isn’t a rejection of the creeds. As his latest book clearly and plainly admits, it is a rejection of the authority of Scripture itself.

    Go ahead and reject the creeds. Not many will care. But reject the belief that scripture is true and that will put one outside the historic Christian faith.

    But, your overall point is still flawed. You want us to reject the creeds because some of the drafters MAY have persecuted gnostic Christians (unsubstantiated, by the way). Yet you want to embrace gnostic texts which were written by those who also engaged in violence. So, it seems your OK with violence as long as its from the group you agree with. If we must reject the creeds, shouldn’t we also reject gnostic writtings?

  34. Jeff Straka,

    I would argue that these core doctrines were well understood (even if not extensively formulated) well before the 4th century; they became formulated during this time precisely because of the conflicts that were erupting.

    “Cant we at LEAST admit there is room to doubt the legitimacy of some of these “core” doctrines and creeds under the conditions they were formed?”

    No. This is the camel’s nose in the tent that Dr. Wittmer is talking about, that won’t give up until it is in total control. The council of Nicea, called by an ARIAN-friendly emperor (Constantine) not too long after persecution ended, and attended by bishops appointed BEFORE the dread date 313, voted in a good many of these doctrines as crucial to the faith.

  35. Jeff,

    You are confusing things that differ. 325 AD did not usher in an era of persecution against Arians, in fact up until 381 AD and the Council of Constantinople the Arian sympathizers had the majority share of the rule in Imperial terms (for 43 three of the 56 years that separated Nicea from Constantinople). Furthermore, 325 AD delineated the nature of the controversy not its final outcome. There was terminological inexactitude for some time after Nicea about the “homoousios” and that not least because the term had previously been condemned for its associations with the Sabellian heresy and Paul of Samosata in particular.

  36. Funny (but sad) how everyone avoided the first part (about the COMPLETE non-violence of Jesus and his followers) where I was looking for some agreement…

    (John- you can show me where the author of the Gospel of Thomas was violent? Really? Prove it and I will discard it.)

  37. Not really that funny, looks like no-one disagreed with you on that point. Where you went after that was a different matter.

  38. Jeff,

    I was referrring to the gnostic/arian groups which actively persectued the church (and, if you could identify who the author of the Gospel of Thomas was, perhaps we could—but since no one knows his identity I guess we can’t).

    Is non-violence your only criteria? How about truth? Biblical fidelity? Are you really willing to accept the Gospel of Thomas, which blatantly opposes every single New Testament document?

    Furthermore, Jesus himself commends the psalms of David—who was a rather violent fellow, was he not?

    Jeff, quite honestly, you are appealing to texts and philosophies which are blantantly heretical. The Gospel of Thomas denies the core message of the Gospel—written by a crazy group in the early church. It would be like someone 1,000 years from now finding some documents in Waco, Tx by the David Koresh and trying to claim that it represented “authentic Christianity of the late 1900’s”. Worse yet (but perhaps a better illustration), it would be like some archeologist who finds the remains of Tom Cruise’s home and declares that Scientology was a legitimate expression of 21st century Christian faith.

    Honestly, I don’t have the time to refute what the church has already refuted. If you don’t wish to believe in historic Christianity that is your choice. But don’t come to Christian cites insisting that we should also abandon belief. Start your own blog and have at it. Maybe you could proclaim yourself pope of your new religion. I’ll even buy the business cards if your want.

  39. My point was INTERCONNECTED to the preface. If our early “church fathers” totally disregarded Jesus’ own essential teachings – including the Beatitudes – and totally disregarded his own example of living a life of non-violent, self-sacrificial love (even ending his OWN death), well, why am I to trust these sinful fathers in coming up with a “perfect” creed (and creeds that Mike seems to rely a lot on in disputing McLaren)?

    And isn’t it interesting in the Nicene creed, which was supposed to be about “what defined a Christian” didn’t a single one of Jesus’ Beatitudes? Wonder why…

  40. No it wasn’t. You are confusing things that differ. I can confess the truth about Jesus without at all times living up to all his commands. My failure to do the latter would be shameful, but, logically, how would it prevent me from arriving at the former.

    And please, don’t be so rhetorically melodramatic with blanket terms like “If our early “church fathers” totally disregarded Jesus’ own essential teachings…”

    Either Jesus was a creature (as the Arians affirmed) or the Creator, eternally begotten of the Father. Scripture settles that issue. Every orthodox creed we have has been written by sinners who needed a Saviour. That’s hardly news.

  41. Jeff, I’m not sure if you were aware, though John did allude to this already, but the authors of the Bible were all sinful, violent men. Moses, check. David, check. Paul, check. Peter, check.

    Also, you’ve conveniently ignored John’s early comment that creeds have only as much worth as their accuracy to the authoritative document upon which they’re based (in this case, the Bible). So throw out the Nicene Creed if you want, I really don’t care. Personally, I can’t tell you the last time I read one of those things in its entirety. Ultimately, they’re like Cliff Notes for the Bible.

  42. Jeff,

    There is an answer to your last question (which any book about the early church period could easily answer).

    Your question: Why doesn’t the Nicene Creed mention a single beautitude of Jesus?

    Answer: Because they were discussing another subject. The beautitudes were not being attacked or question, but the deity of Jesus was.

    They were NOT defining what it means to be a Christian. They were clarifying a few, very specific, points of essential doctrine. They never intended their statement to be a sum total of everything a Christian must believe or a guide for how one was to live their life. They recognized there was already a Bible for that purpose.

  43. Hey guys, I got a GREAT idea. Let’s not trust the early church fathers because they were obviously sinful men. Instead, let’s trust the author of the Gopel of Thomas, the Nag Hammadi texts, and the latest authors of the emergent stuff because they are obviously sinless men who live just like Jesus.

    Traditional Christians = Bad, mean, sinners (who probably kick puppies).

    Revised/Gnostic/Emergent Christians = Good, nice, saints (who help little ladies cross the street).

    Wait…..er…..well…..perhaps we should just stick to the Bible. If what McLaren says matches what ALL the bible says (not just the few verses he likes), then lets accept it. If it opposes ANYTHING the Bible says let’s reject it. End of story.

  44. wow. crrreeeeaaaakk. click.

  45. I wouldn’t want to experience how violent an eternity in hell is – which causes me to wonder why our emergent friends aren’t loving enough to be concerned about or wanting others to avoid it?

  46. More often than not I do not post comments on a person’s blog, but I would just like to mention that this article really compelled me to do so! Thank you for your perceptive post.

  47. Continue the brilliant work!

    here are a few words of chaos:
    Rather valuable idea

  48. @workathome
    Those are the second-best “words of chaos” I’ve ever read. The best are an anagram of your words:

    “Duh, a tailbearer vial!”

  49. After reading this much “dialogue”, I have to put in my two cents worth. Jesus didn’t enter into his ministry in order to create a new ‘belief’ system. He didn’t create ‘Christianity’. The beginnings of that belief system was Paul, who, coming out of a Pharisaical background and training, felt the necessity to logically put together an apologetic to explain how Jesus ‘fits’ in the scheme of God’s relationship with the world. Jesus concern seemed to be relating in love to those who would hear and see. Many of those he came into conversation with were blinded by the importance of correct ‘beliefs’ that they didn’t have time for all this relationship with God stuff.
    If the question is “What is the gospel?”, the answer doesn’t have to do with us and our “correct” beliefs and the historical atonement theories, but rather with God’s action in calling us back into that covenantal relationship that now sends us into the world in service and love.

  50. Jesus vs Paul huh? Why didn’t the Apostles toss the bum out if he was subverting Jesus’ message? Why did Peter call Paul’s writing scripture?
    BTW – The Pharisees were known for their over the top concerns over doctrine. On the contrary almost every time we see them Jesus is nailing them for their misplaced actions. The Pharisees were big into the “deeds not creeds” thing don’t you know?
    Just like Rob and Brian and Rick et all.
    Also Jesus himself said the Pharisees he was addressing would not enter the kingdom of Heaven. Oops did Rob miss that one? Maybe Jesus didn’t really mean it. Maybe Jesus didn’t know that the Pharisees were living out their hell right here on earth.
    Or did Jesus know exactly what he was saying and why? If he is God on earth as the scriptures teach – perhaps one should be a little bit more reticent to rewrite the message.
    Jesus said believe, over and over again. Rob says you don’t have to. Who are you going to believe?

  51. OOps. I meant to write “The Pharisees were NOT known” big difference. My bad.

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