In the interests of not drawing out this series much further (too much thinking is hurting my brain), I’m collating the remainding chapters to describe the key points that I think McLaren is making.
On being charismatic/contemplative:
Like many of the journeying Vineyardians I know of, their experience with the “charismatic” was tainted by the models they saw displayed in the Pentecostal world. Hurt by the whole speaking-in-tongues-as-Christian-status type approach it took a fair bit for him to recognise the Godliness in what the Holy Spirit can do. But having been put in a situation where he believed in the spirit working in that way – I love his summation of what being baptised in the Spirit (oh how I wish there was a less loaded term) is about for him.
“Sometimes I’m talking with someone – offering pastoral counsel or just talking with someone I meet on a plane or in a restaurant – and a kind of wisom or insight comes to me, wisdom that I can’t explain or claim as my own….
Sometimes I know I should give away a sum of money to someone in need, and I know that not doing so would be missing a great opportunity to do good….. Sometimes I’m prayind, and I feel a confidence rise up in me that what I’m asking for will truly happen, and this confidence gives me courage to take risks I would not normally take. Sometimes I’m preaching or preparing to preach and I feel a boldness wash over me like a brisk wave in the surf and I know I’m being empowered by the Spirit of God”
Predestination is one of those nasty ones, that despite the constant barrage of opinion, I’m yet to fully make up my mind on – although I think that I’m leaning towards McLaren’s point of view (as distinct from Ianniello’s – sorry mate).
“Whether it’s God who makes us puppets, or whether it’s genes…… it doesn’t matter much to me. I have little time for determinism. If it’s true then I can’t help but not believe in it, because, after all, I have not choice.”
On being green:
I’m yet to have heard a legitimate argument for why the church shouldn’t be more outspoken about environmental issues. It’s an area that I know I personally need to look at my lifestyle about, and am starting to take steps towards. McLaren wheels out some pretty standard arguments, as well as tracing some of the church’s apathy to the environment (“Jesus is gunna come soon anyway and then who gives a stuff”). If there’s someone who is of the opinion that Christians are too environmentally conscious – I’d love to hear it. That’s not being sarcastic – I just don’t know what your argument is likely to be.
On being incarnational:
I was prepared for this chapter to be a nice easy one that I’d agree with everything in and would make me happy. What could be more altruistic that the need for Christians to be following the incarnational example of Christ and to be little Jesuses in the community. McLaren gets a little bit more controversial than that.
McLaren argues not for converting people into a Christian culture – which I agree with. There is a deep seated problem Christendom-wide with stifling the personalities of the people we bring into the flock. But then he goes in deeper and almost goes (but perhaps not quite) to the point of advocating other religions – which while I’m keen to be nice and accepting and respectful – just gets me starting to lean towards having no other Gods. Might come back to that in the final post of the series. Stay tuned.
On being depressed, yet hopeful and unfinished:
McLaren finishes the way he started – recognising the problems with the Church – the arrogance, the intolerance, the disunity – and offers up some hope for the future, by pointing to the good things that are happening now. And the church is not all doom and gloom. The world is changing. We are starting to change it. Sometimes we even have Christians that are doing good. McLaren is remarkably humble in admitting that his “Generous Orthodoxy” has further to go – God isn’t finished with it yet. He describes this unfinished tension the way all good non-fiction authors do: with someone else’s words
“How can we keep the artist discontented with his pictures while preventing him from being vitally discontented with his art? How can we make a man always dissatisfied with this work, yet always satisfied with working? How can we make sure that the portrait painter will throw the portrait out of the window instead of taking the natural and more human course of throwing the sitter out the window?” (Chesterton – “Orthodoxy”)
This concludes my summation of the book. I hope you’ve enjoyed the series, or if not that at least somewhere in there something has made you think in some way. Or something. Tomorrow, or possibly the next day, there will be a “What I reckon” piece on this book. Then I’ll be getting into some hardcore bible stuff. Possibly Genesis. Or 1 Samuel. Or Daniel. Maybe Judges.