Monday, January 10, 2011

Brian McLaren Comes to Austin

Faith and I had the wonderful privilege of seeing author/speaker, Brian McLaren this past weekend at St. David’s Episcopal in Austin. Brian’s books and spoken word have been an inspiration to us ever since first discovering him in 2005.

Due to the nature of my occupation it is sometimes difficult to catch certain special events as our family moves around the country, but this time everything worked out perfectly. Child-care was included as well, which is pretty huge for us! We have great baby sitters who our kids love but it’s always a surprising treat to have it for free. The people of St. David’s were all very warm, wonderful people and Brian’s conversation was part of their Eckhardt Mission Series.

Brian’s talk was largely in-line with his most recent book, A New Kind of Christianity, which I highly recommend. In his book, Brian proposes that throughout church history, generations of Christ followers have largely understood the biblical narrative backward through the lenses of various faith leaders like Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Edwards, Augustine, etc. Brian in no way tries to discount anything those respected leaders did. Rather he offers that we should instead understand the narrative forward from Genesis, always remembering that it is a Hebraic storyline leading up to Jesus, thus revealing a much more Jewish and much more revolutionary reading. Brian’s view, which I can largely agree with, is that when we read the narrative parallax-free, a somewhat different story begins to emerge. He asks 10 questions in the book: 1) What Is the Overarching Story Line of the Bible?; 2) How Should the Bible be Understood?; 3) Is God Violent?; 4) Who Is Jesus and Why Is He Important?; 5) What Is the Gospel?; 6) What Do We Do About the Church?; 7) Can We Find a Way to Address Human Sexuality Without Fighting About It?; 8) Can We Find a Better Way of Viewing the Future?; 9) How Should Followers of Jesus Relate to People of Other Religions?; and 10) How Can We Translate our Quest into Action?

Much of Brian’s presentation was open to question-and-response, allowing us to engage with each other and with him on many of these topics. I was impressed with Brian’s theological competence and most of all with his tremendous humility. Over the years he has received more than his fair share of criticism and to see this man continue to stand up for re-thinking and re-imagining Faith was immensely encouraging.

1 comment:

a.susie said...

I've read Brian since day one and one of the things his writings (particularly "Adventures In Missing the Point") challenged me to do is to begin to open the Bible and read what it REALLY says as if I had been stranded on an island for my whole life and had never heard any of it before. How would I REALLY interpret what God was saying to humanity. Through this exercise over the years I have found that I don't agree with Brian himself most of the time either. I've come to see that his own thought processes are just as influenced by culture and society than anyone else's, but his books certainly were causal in prompting me to "not check my brain at the door" and listen to what the Word is really saying...being a Berean...hearing with excitement, but always checking it out for myself..."to see if these things are so."