Brian, What do you really mean?

Brian, What do you really mean? April 19, 2005

Issue #12: Brian, what do you mean by this?

Generous Orthodoxy, 35: “Beyond all these warnings, you should know that I am horribly unfair in this book, lacking all scholarly objectivity and evenhandedness. My own upbringing was way out on the end of one of the most conservative twigs of one of the most conservative branches of one of the most conservative limbs of Christianity, and I am far harder on conservative Protestant Christians who share that heritage than I am on anyone else. I’m sorry. I am consistently oversympathetic to Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, even dreaded liberals, while I keep elbowing my conservative brethren in the ribs in a most annoying – some would say “ungenerous” – way. I cannot even pretend to be objective or fair. This is simply an inexcusable shortcoming of the book that serves no good purpose, unless by some chance it could generously be included under the proverb, ‘Faithful are the wounds of a friend’ (Proverbs 27:6 NASB). Even so, will I be grateful and gracious when this friendly wounding is generously reciprocated?”

Is this postmodernist irony? sarcasm? or gamesmanship? None of which stems from genuine listening or speaking that is the implication of loving the Other with whom we speak and to whom we write. Please Brian, tell me – what do you really mean?

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  • hey, this reminds me a lot of the intense relationship between Jesus and the Pharisees (no analogies intended here, honestly!) – Jesus never had so many issues with the other groups, since he and pharisees were so close theologically etc – was that unfair of him? couldnt he be more “balanced” of his treatment of them? couldnt he praise them for the many things they deserved praise? actually it seems to me that he was sometimes even harsher with his own disciples… perhaps thats kind of axiomatic – from those whom more was given, more will bw required…

  • Rey

    Kind of a sad statement though. As a PB myself seeing him say that feels like him shrugging off his family.

  • Scot-Could you elaborate on what you find confusing about this quote? It seems to me that McLaren is just trying to make his own biases clear, and not set himself up as having godlike neutrality or being unencumbered by preconceptions.

  • I think, perhaps, that Scot may be refering to Brian being (evidently) gracious to himself and the shortcoming of his book, yet ungracious to his conservative brethren. This does not fit well within the “Jesus Creed”…love God, love Others. Having said all that, I have a feeling Brian will be gracious as “this friendly wounding is generously reciprocated”. My concern is that the ‘friendly’ debate of these two influential gentlemen will serve to polarize even further and create a defensive entrenchment. I have cherished the fact that within the emergent movement there is room for wide ranging conversation on both theology and praxis. Will we let this debate create a defensive ‘your in or your out,’ or ‘if your not with us your against us’ line in the sand? May it never be! Let’s take Carson’s title to heart, difficult though it may be, and continue to be ‘conversant’.