BMac’s new book comes out today. I had the opportunity to give it a close read last winter and to provide feedback on it. My endorsement reads,
“This is Brian McLaren at his best, and I think this is what so many readers want from him: Deeply rooted in scripture, yet offering fresh, even radical, readings. WE MAKE THE ROAD BY WALKING will surely be a benefit and blessing to many.”
I stand by that. Over the years, I’ve read all Brian’s books and heard him give dozens of talks. He’s good at so many things, but I think he is absolutely on his game when he’s interpreting the Bible. His approach is both pastoral and radical, a difficult mix to maintain. He brings fresh and often unexpected interpretations.
What Brian is not is an unredeemed liberal, bent on demythologizing the text. He takes the text seriously and doesn’t get hung up on historical-critical arguments. Astute readers will see the influence of René Girard, whom Brian has immersed himself in over the last couple years.
I did lobby for a new title, The McLaren Lectionary, knowing that Brian was far too humble to agree. But that’s really what this book is: Brian taking the reader on a journey from the beginning of the Bible to the end, in short, digestible chapters. It can be read straight through, as I did, or better yet, on the bedstand as a nightly or weekly devotion.
If you’ve been influenced by Brian’s past books — I’m guessing that’s just about all of you — I encourage you to get ahold of this one to see a comprehensive McLarenesque hermeneutic of the love-and-redemption story of the Bible.
The above landed on our doorstep yesterday morning. At breakfast, I held it up and asked the kids what they thought. They thought nothing. There was no change on their face, there was no “yuck factor,” there was no reaction of any kind. There was, instead, a sense from a 9-year-old and a 13-year-old that this gay kiss was normative.
Some will argue that even though this is now culturally normative, that doesn’t make it biblically normative. To those I say, we were also eating bacon at breakfast.
This post should be properly titled, “Five Questions for Process Theologians,” because you cannot actually ask a question of a theology, only of a theologian. The problem, as Tripp and Bo explained in their recent and controversial podcast, is that a lot of people whom I consider process theologians aren’t. Or they deny that they are. Phil Clayton is influenced by process, as is Bo. Tripp hedges on whether he’s a process theologian, or whether he’s an open-and-relational-baptist-who-has-proclivities-toward-process. Maybe John Cobb is the only truly process theologian.
The back-and-forth over process started with a rather hamfisted post by Roger Olson, in which he asserted that true process theologians aren’t Christian and, conversely, true Christians aren’t truly process theologians. When the pushback came his way, he responded by saying, “Hey, I’m writing for evangelicals exclusively. The rest of you can listen in, but this isn’t about you.” (He also unfortunately aired some of his personal dirty laundry in the comment section of the initial post.)
Tripp and Bo rightly took up Olson’s post, pointing out that it was both wrong at points and ungenerous in others. But I grew increasingly frustrated as I listened to the podcast because I thought that Tripp and Bo were taking potshots at more classical forms of theism. They even criticized other open and relational theologies as their temperatures rose. And, in so doing, I think they missed some of the more salient points of Olson’s criticisms.
If I had my druthers, I’d go over to Tripp’s garage, open a homebrew, light up a cigar, and talk this out with him in front of a live mic. Since that’s not geographically possible, I offer these five questions and ask those guys and others to respond by whatever medium they see fit. I am definitely a full-fledged member of the “open and relational theologies” camp, and I’m a hypertheist, so I offer these questions as a friend and teammate.