Friday, February 26, 2010

Brian McLaren, the New Luther!

How do we know this? His publisher says so:
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.


kmattwalker said...

Remember, when McLaren and like-minded evangelicals say that, they don't mean the Catholic Church needs a paradigm shift. They're thinking of Calvary Chapel and like-minded mega churches. What they forget though, is how so many of those churchs were the new, cutting-edge, free-thinking, free-spirited movements in their day. They just got old and comfortable. All the Jesus hippies became mommies and daddies with jobs and mortgages and retiremnet savings. Youthful progressivism of the revival camp era made them... well, tired. McLaren doesn't know it, but he too will be old and stale and "establishment" some day -- just like Luther.

The lesson is that no matter how revolutionary an evangelical movement is, it will always settle down into some kind of establishment over time. The point that Catholics should make is this: if such a framework of thinking and worshiping is always going to take shape, what is the BEST framework? And then we can suggest the Church.

Ron said...

It will be interesting to see what happens when the shift hits the fan ;-)

Frank said...

Steve Forbert...Sheeeeeesh! He was HUGE for about a heartbeat, though huh! Nice post. You'll have to report on your "audience" with him.