Why Liberal Is Not a Bad Word
Here's the big issue, as I see it: Is the greatest gift of God to humanity the inspiration of the Bible, or the incarnation of Christ? I believe the inspired Bible itself teaches that it is the latter. I quote several verses to that effect in the book, but just to give one example -- take Hebrews 1:1-4, where Jesus is presented as a revelation that goes above and beyond the previous revelations. I am with Martin Luther in this, who said that the Bible is like the manger: it presents Jesus to us. It is precious because it bears witness to Jesus, but it shouldn't be confused with the Word made flesh.
And I'm also concerned, as I explain in the book, that we have allowed a terribly unfortunate reading of Revelation 19 to implant an image of a violent second-coming Jesus in our imaginations that effectively supplants the nonviolence of the Jesus of the gospels. Even if people don't agree with much in my book, I at least hope they'll give that concern a second thought.
My belief is that the Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John -- the Jesus celebrated by Paul and the apostles -- presents to us the image of God in all God's radiance. I believe that "For God so loved the world that he gave" not just a book, but "his only Son." The book is indeed precious, precisely because it presents to us the Word made flesh. To be a Christian -- at least a new kind of Christian, as I see it -- is to see God first and foremost revealed in Jesus, and to see the Holy Scriptures as unspeakably precious because they bear witness to Jesus, holding him like the manger. That's why I'm a Christian -- because I believe God was in Christ, reconciling the world to God, and reconciling us to one another. And that's why I still consider myself an evangelical, because I believe that the good news of Jesus Christ is good news for all creation, and is worth sharing with joy.
Brian McLaren is married and has four children, and has traveled around the world in his capacity as an author, pastor, and public speaker. To learn more about McLaren and his work, visit his official website.