Monday, March 16, 2009

Welcome, Ken and Karen!

Our newest addition to the blog roll and web ring is eMMAUS: "An Attempt at nontraditional Sunday School as a part of Christian Education at Pickens Presbyterian Church (South Carolina). Weekly scripture lessons in light of current events and culture, and from a reformed perspective."

An example of the thought-provoking things they have to say:

Friday thoughts - if we are seeing Jesus everywhere, why don't we see him in each other.


Brian McLaren discusses a "Second Coming Jesus" that he believes many people have created in direct opposition to the Jesus of love and grace that we are given in the Gospels. Many people interpret Revelation to describe a second coming of Christ that is characterized by violence, killing, domination, and eternal torture. McLaren questions why Jesus's life would be considered just a warm-up act for the real deal -- do we believe that Second Coming Jesus will achieve with violence what First Coming Jesus failed to do?

Interesting discussion starters, all! I hesitated to post the latter quote - part of an ongoing book discussion - in a welcoming post because I expect some to have a rather strong reaction to it and don't want to welcome our newest members with a flame war. I love that we have such variety of experiences and opinions and understandings within our denomination. And I appreciate the challenging ideas Ken and Karen are bringing up in their daily Lenten posts.

Welcome, friends!


Stushie said...

Brian McLaren is so off the wall that he's dangerous.

If this was the third century, he'd be rightly declared as a heretic.

So many young people have bought into his stuff and don't realize his theosophy (I wouldn't call it theology) is going to derail their faith completely.

Sarahlynn said...

Yeah, this is why I shouldn't have published that excerpt. I was hoping to point out the interesting discussion-starters over at eMMAUS, not to invite judgment.

I've not read McLaren and am not here to comment on his work.

However, the attitude of knowing what's right for everyone else is infuriating to me. There are different ways to come to God, and different approaches work for different people.

The idea that everyone's faith is so weak that it's easily threatened by exposure any outside influences is mysterious to me. Nothing makes me more comfortable in my own belief than hearing something with which I disbelieve and recognizing the differences. I know that I am not alone in this, and I trust other Christians to make appropriate decisions about what's appropriate for them to read/consider/expose themselves to. Faith that buckles under the slightest challenge is no true faith at all.

I am blessed to live in the 21st Century, rather than the 3rd, where people can explore beliefs and choose the path that feels right to them without fear of being branded heretic and murdered by the church.

Viola Larson said...

Just some thoughts. I'm not totally sure what Brian McLaren is saying about the second coming of Christ from that quote. I know some people have the Left Behind books confused with the real biblical understanding of the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Jesus had some things to say about his second coming also.

For instance, "And then the son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other." That's not some kind of rapture that is the second coming.

And Paul in lots of places but how about (1 Thess 5:1-11)

The grace of Christ Jesus and his love is shown in his life, death on the cross,and resurrection but what about those who totally reject his gift?

Stushie said...

Sarahlynn, the problem with brian Mclaren's statement is this: he is inferring that St. John did not have a divine revelation from God. That's about as close you can get to blaspheming against the Holy Spirit and that's what makes it heresy.

Sarahlynn said...

I don't read it that way at all.

Stushie said...

Sarahlynn,with all due respect, that's the problem. Heresy is always under the radar.

Brian McLaren's books are not revelation or canonicial, and yet some people treat them as if they are. He may be asking lot of clever questions, but when he states that the Christ of the Gospels is not the same as the Christ of St. John's revelation, that creates a credibility issue. Either John was dillusional or McLaren is.

Personally, I'd rather stick with the Beloved Disciple than a generational guru anyday.

Stushie said...

I think I meant to write "delusional." Maybe I combine delusional and disillusioned in my mind.

Sarahlynn said...

I can't speak to whether or not "some people" treat McClaren's writing as canonical. Even if some do, I don't think that suggests that no one should read his work, or even that there's anything necessarily heretical about his work.

Back to the third century comment for a moment - if we really are talking about the Book of Revelation here, and I'm not sure that we are (see below) then I don't think it's ever been considered especially heretical to question whether the book is canonical. Roman Catholic bishops argued about it for centuries, and, if I recall correctly, Martin Luther wasn't originally a big fan of its inclusion in the Bible either.

I agree with what Viola said here, btw, and that's how I read the short excerpt from McClaren, as a comment on how some people talk about The End Times, rather than as a comment on the Book of Revelation.

Viola Larson said...

For all of their comments on Revelation, no Church Father or Reformation teacher cut it out of the Bible, although Thomas Jefferson may have but then he cut a lot of stuff out including the resurrection.

An interesting thought about the book of Revelation is that almost all of the imagery is from the Old Testament. My husband has been teaching on Revelation for several years and it is really a very beautiful book.

But all of the wild imagery needs to be seen as metaphor. Eugene Peterson’s book, I can't remember the name now is excellent. Also Professor Richard Bauckham also has a very good one, The Theology of the Book of Revelation.

Ken said...

Thanks for the warm welcome!

And no, we are not upset by the differing opinions on McLaren's book - we are having some of the same discussions within our church community!

Looking forward to continued 'blogowship' with you all!