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Monday, September 25, 2006


Like most outside the Emergent Movement, I struggle to understand it. My struggle is twofold. 1) Since the movement is sensitive to prejudice and profiling, it has been hesitant to quantify or give discernable standards. (Consider even the words "emerging" and "emergent." Most are not sure if these words are interchangable or refer to different things.) If it is difficult to know what something is, it is equally challenging to evaluate it. 2) Of those who try to evaluate the movement, many seem angy and unfair. It is hard to find an objective evaluation that does not assume motive or attack intentions.

Through a blog, I found an mp3 of a McLaren sermon given at Mar's Hill. I decided to download it (it was only 6.8 MB) and check it out. I wasn't concerned with his "stage presence," his illustrations, or his inflection.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.--2 Timothy 2:15

If we believe Paul's words to be inspired, then a pastor is not evaluated by God by the size or even response of the congregation. God will evaluate his ministry based on how he handles (I believe that includes personal application) the Word. This was the only standard I wished to evaluate in McLaren's message. How does he handle the Word?

But before I begin, I would like to make sure some things are expressed:
    I'm not looking for a flawless presentation. Any fallible audience is going to hear things and misunderstand, misconstrue or even misapply. Any fallible preacher is going to make mistakes, either through mistatement or because he misunderstands the text. This standard applies to Timothy and his audience. However, Paul says it is possible for a pastor's preaching to be approved by God and free from shame.
So why this message, and why review it publicly:
    Brian McLaren is one man that is at the front of this movement. If we can understand his perspective, we can atleast understand a segment of the emergent.
    By preaching at Mar's Hill, we can not simply say his message is his perspective alone. His message is introduced and concluded by a church leader, without any indication of conflict. Therefore, this message allows us to discern McLaren and the perspective of Mar's Hill...a very prominent emergent church.
    Sermons are public. It was spoken to a large crowd, and has been posted on the world wide web. It is not necessary to evaluate something in private that has been presented publicly. (In fact, if a person publicly declared the movie theatre was on fire, when you knew it was not, it would be inappropriate for you to confront the person privately before dealing with the crowd.)
    [As a side, yes I am open to similar critique. You can find sermons I have given here].
    I want the accountability. I'm asking you to guard my tone, watching that I do not attack motives or character. I simply want to evaluate the message.
If you're interested in hearing the message too, it can be found here. (Week 391, "Renew, Rebuild and Restore")


  • At 5:55 PM, Blogger The Honus said…

    Interestingly enough, I was at Mars Hill that Sunday and in person, heard McLaren give this message. I'm not sure that I understand if you are saying that he mishandled Scripture... or are you just encouraging people to go listen to it and decide for themselves? I would be intereested in your thoughts on this as he did a solid job of explaining the "emergent" understanding of the mission of Christ.

    FYI...Rob Bell wasn't there that morning. He was on a summer speaking engagement. It was another member of their leadership team that introduced him.

  • At 9:00 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    correction made....thanks for the heads up.

    i'll be interested in hearing your thoughts about my thoughts about mclaren's thoughts regarding the passages he used.

    i'll be walking slowly through it, one per day.


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