We are in the midst of a paradigm shift in the church. Not since the Reformation five centuries ago have so many Christians come together to ask whether the church is in sync with their deepest beliefs and commitments. These believers range from evangelicals to mainline Protestants to Catholics, and the person who best represents them is author and pastor Brian McLaren.
We've seen what happens when some budding rock star is dubbed "the New Dylan." He either becomes Bruce Springsteen or falls into the abyss of anonymity. If I were a betting man, I would put my money on McLaren in 10 years becoming "the new Steve Forbert." (Update: A former grad student of mine privately emailed me and asked, "Who the heck is Steve Forbert?" My answer: "Exactly!")
As luck (or providence) would have it, the Rev. McLaren will be speaking in chapel at Baylor in March. So, there is a chance that I, a new Catholic, may hear the new Luther in person. I promise I won't go medieval on him as long as he doesn't go postmodern on our students. A waste is a terrible thing to mind.
Unlike the original Luther, who merely sought a reformation, this new Luther has global aspirations of cosmic proportions: he calls for nothing short of a paradigm shift in the creedal and moral beliefs of Christian orthodoxy. You can say then that we've gone from a Luther who claimed our righteousness is dung to a new Luther who claims our righteousness depends on our embracing his shift.