7 Questions for Brian D. McLaren

  • Jon the freelance theologian was recently privileged to meet Brian D. McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christian as well as many other titles dealing with Christianity on the cusp of the postmodern era. In the following exclusive interview, Jon asked Brian for his thoughts on one or two important topics and also asked a few personal questions to find out what make this internationally respected theologian tick.

    Do you have a favourite Bible verse, and why is it your favourite?
    I think 2 Corinthians chapter 5 and verse 19 [“in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses , and entrusting us with the message of reconciliation”], because it puts the focus on reconciliation with God and among human beings.

    Which theologians have had the biggest influence on you?
    Francis Schaeffer, CS Lewis, Leslie Newbiggin, Walter Bruggeman, NT Wright, Rene Padilla, and Nancey Murphy. (When pushed to pick one, Brian said NT Wright was his biggest influence).

    In the postmodern era we are seeing the re-emergence of Gnostic alternative truths (e.g. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, National Geographic’s Gospel of Judas). Most reactions from Christians are modern proof-based arguments against them. What postmodern ways could we respond?
    I’ve actually got an article on the Sojourners website on this topic, so it’s probably best if people read that. What I add is that the popularity of The Da Vinci Code tells us there are deficiencies in the way we present Jesus to people. [Click on this link to visit Brian’s Sojourners article – you may need to subscribe to Sojourners’ regular email update to access the article]

    How do ongoing doctrinal disagreements in Christianity affect the credibility of Christians seeking to engage a modern and postmodern society that has no need of God?
    Jesus said that ‘all people will know my disciples by the love they have for one another, and will know that the Father sent me for the same reason’ [John chapter 17, verses 20-23]. So if we don’t love one another it’s a very serious problem. Speaking personally, I am most unloving when I’m afraid or angry or greedy…

    Your church, Cedar Ridge Community Church, is based in Washington DC. How do you feel about the recent establishment of the Washington Nationals baseball team? And do you think that the artificiality of baseball franchises have parallels in how Christians regard church?
    I haven’t been to a Nationals game and haven’t kept up with them. I live closer to Baltimore anyway, so pay more attention to the Orioles. Franchises are formed by market realities and when we let our churches be formed by market realities too, then they do seem like a game.

    Have you got one thing you would like to say to readers of freelance theology?
    It’s great that you’re engaged through this website in theological conversation because if people can engage in constructive and charitable theological conversation that helps build a better world.

    What does the ‘D’ stand for and why do so many Americans use a middle initial?
    Douglas. The US is a big country. There are a couple of other Brian McLarens, who I feel sorry for in case they get saddled with my critics.

    Read more by Brian Douglas McLaren on his personal website [click]:
    Brian’s also recommends: Amahoro; Emergent (UK)

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