Everything Might Change
John Wilson has some interesting thoughts about Brian McLaren’s new book, Everything Must Change.
McLaren is particularly misleading when he’s suggesting, as he does quite emphatically at times, that somehow the church went off the rails early on, and that only now are (some) Christians beginning to understand what Jesus was really saying. While McLaren occasionally adds nuances and qualifiers, this ahistorical account runs through the book. In this respect, his message is oddly reminiscent of the ahistorical narrative of church history that dominated the evangelical/fundamentalist churches of my youth. Between an idealized first-century church and the present moment, when the preacher was calling on you to make a decision for Christ, there loomed a great wasteland—all those centuries in which the church failed to heed the plain words of Scripture.
This reminds me of a story a friend told me in college. He was taking Church History at this tiny Christian school, and one day they came to a timeline in the textbook. The dates ranged from just before anno domini to the present day. At different point there were little flames which represented an explosive growth in the church or a revival of some sort. There were a dozen or so between 5 B.C. and A.D. 313. Then, apparently, the church just died. There were no expansions, no advances, no great teachers or movements. The church was in hibernation. Then, on a fine autumn day in 1517, the fire was back.