Monday, February 22, 2010

McLaren's "New Kind of Christianity" is more of the same old kind of liberalism

Brian McLaren is at it again. As if we needed any more concrete evidence that the "emergent" guru has jumped the shark, his new book, A New Kind of Christianity, brings his blatant apostasy out in the open for all to see. Kevin DeYoung, at the end of a lengthy review, sums up the essence of "McLarenism."
Well, 6000 words later, what is possibly left to say? Hopefully not much. It would not sadden me in the least if I never talked or wrote about the emergent movement again. I don’t think any of us will be talking about the “great emergence” twenty years hence, let alone a hundred. All that remains is to highlight one final irony.

For all the talk of being new (xi) and at the same time ancient (255), McLarenism is neither. It is old fashioned liberalism. McLaren, despite his historical plundering, has no right to claim he is in [the] tradition of Martin Luther because he finds “sustaining inner strength,” or in the tradition of the Wesleys because “our hearts can be ‘strangely warmed’” (227). This is like saying I’m in the tradition of Ignatius because I have strong convictions. It doesn’t work. McLaren stands in the tradition of Ritschl, Harnack, Rauschenbush, and Whitehead, plain and simple.
Other reviewers have reached similar conclusions. Mike Wittmer devotes considerable space to answering the "ten questions" around which McLaren's book is built while Trevin Wax sees the book as good for the "emergent" movement because it will force others to come clean about their own beliefs. Tim Challies has the best (and likely most controversial) assessment of McLaren himself as one who loves Jesus but hates God.

When all is said and done, however, I believe DeYoung speaks not only for himself but for many others in his desire never to talk or write about the emergent movement again. As the old adage goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. McLaren and his ilk are merely the latest version of the worn out liberalism which first wielded its ugly head about three centuries ago and died its most recent death with the collapse of mainline Protestantism at the end of the twentieth century. The emergent movement wants to breathe new life into this stinking carcass but, thanks be to God, it has already failed in this endeavor.