Monday, January 14, 2008

Can Orthodoxy really be Generous?

Tonight I was reading through Brian McLaren's book "A Generous Orthodoxy" and had a few thoughts...Specifically, his concluding chapters on these normally dichotomous subjects (liberal/conservative, Methodist/Calvinist, Charismatic/Fundamentalist) caught my attention. Though I definitely don't agree with all of the postmodern culture and ideology (or anti-ideology), I think McLaren speaks some timely truths. He calls us to view the "other side" more fairly, and more generously, so that we can learn from their strengths. For instance, while liberal Christianity certainly has its shortcomings, its mere arrogance to think that conservative Christianity does not. Instead of focusing on what other Christian traditions are doing wrong, our approach should be to seek out their strengths and incorporate those into both our doctrine and our practice. As McLaren points out, unless the contemporarily liberal causes such as social justice and environmental conservation are taken seriously, we will never be able to call ourselves true followers of the way and teachings of Jesus Christ. Of course this isn't to say that all the world needs is material or physical healing. There is definitely a spiritual and eternal deadness prevalent in our world as never before. This is precisely why we need input from more than one tradition.

In case your tempted to accuse me of postmodern relativism, be sure you recognize what I'm saying. I am NOT saying that the "other side" is right in all it proclaims just because that's what they believe, nor am I saying that truth is too elusive to constrain to factual inquiry. Nor am I even saying, with McLaren, that the word objective makes me uncomfortable. What I AM saying is what a wise man once said 2,000 years ago, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

So maybe the question shouldn't be "Can orthodoxy really be generous?" but "Can orthodoxy really be anything but generous?"


jeremy zach said...

I love your "disclaimer" section at the end of the post. I have noticed in the blogworld, if you even mention Brian Mclaren you are automatically associated with the postmodern relativism camp.

Mclaren is on tour right now. The tour is called: Everything Must Change.

Seems a bit extreme to me. But what do I know?

Jake C. said...

Yeah that does seem a touch extreme...which he just might be