Five Theological Turnings, 1
Brian McLaren spoke recently at the Abilene Christian University Lectureship. ACU is a fairly conservative school, so I was a bit surprised when I saw that he’d be there. Today I’m listening to his first session, called “Five Theological Turnings” (1 of 2). I’ll be posting my thoughts here as I listen.
So far he’s said a lot I agree with about the problems with the church as it stands today, and has stood for the last hundred years. His comments about paradigm shifts, and the need to recognize that there is no single Biblical worldview or correct human perspective, are very true and important to acknowledge. He also cites Barth in saying that theology is not something reserved for a small group of academics.
He’s bothering me a bit, because, while he’s not adding anything to the discussion, the way he describes situations, and characterizes people’s beliefs – he claims some believe God “created the world, then hated it, and can’t wait to destroy it so he can suck all our souls up to heaven”, and that those who believe that the Father is above the Son or the two are above the Spirit will go around saying that women are superior to men or that their race is superior to others – in a way that just doesn’t gel with the concept of a “generous” anything, let alone orthodoxy.
We’ll see where he goes from here.
Segment one was quite interesting. A lot of strong ideas about the breakdown of modernity, not in the form of deconstruction, or an eschwing of concrete truth, but in the form of worldview shifts.
At one point he talks about the discovery of subatomic particles, and the idea that if you start looking at things that are small enough, there’s nothing there; that everything we call matter is “a distortion in the fabric of space and time”. Much like the idea that in any “solid” object there is more space than matter, if you look closely enough.
“In the beginning was the word.”
What is the word? In human terms it’s a vibration…a distortion and an interruption in the normal pattern with a meaningful purpose.
He also talked about meeting with a group of Kenyan yuppies (young urban proffesionals, for those who don’t know), one of whom mentioned that she’s the only one in her office who goes to church. The others call themselves athiests and agnostics. She says they “are not athiests”, they’ve “just rejected the God of Kenyan Pentacostalism.” I can identify there. I often find myself arguing talking in a reasonable and measured tone with people who are angry at a god that I don’t recognize, and is certainly not the one I find in Scripture.
Part two is next. He hasn’t added anything to the discussion, but only described some situations and cited others. I’m interested in his own ideas.