Thursday, March 11, 2010

Brian McLaren, I Accept Your Invitation

Dialogue friend, Dr. Bob Kellelman, has begun a new series of posts on his blog designed to interact with Brian McLaren's new (and controverisal) book: A New Kind of Christianity. I will keep it linked here as Bob works through the book. Here is the introduction, open the links to go to the full article:

Brian McLaren, I Accept Your Invitation
By Bob. Filed in A New Kind of Christianity, Biblical Counseling, Brian McLaren, Christianity, McLaren

A Conversation about Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christianity

Brian McLaren, I Accept Your Invitation

Welcome: You’re reading “Part 1” of my blog series responding to Brian McLaren’s book A New Kind of Christianity. Many people have engaged Brian’s thinking—most focusing on a systematic theology response (you can visit here to see a boatload of links). I’m thankful for their foundational responses. My focus is on “pastoral theology” or “practical theology.” As a pastor, counselor, and professor who equips pastors, I’m accepting Brian’s invitation to interact about the implications of his views for the everyday life of one-another Christianity—the “personal ministry of the Word.” My posts will be “periodic” so that I can intelligently, carefully, fairly, and thoroughly engage Brian’s thinking.

Brian’s Invitation

Throughout A New Kind of Christianity Brian invites conversation. He calls it an invitation for discussion not a “debate that creates hate” (p. 17). Using a sports’ analogy, Brian writes about his views, “They are offered as a gentle serve or lob; their primary goal is to start the interplay, to get things rolling, to invite reply” (p. 23). Brian also notes concerning those who may disagree with him that, “We welcome their charitable critique” (p. 25). In summary he says, “This quest must instead work more like a wedding proposal, an invitation. It must be about free conversation, not forced conversion” (p. 27).
To this generic invite, Brian adds a very specific invitation to pastors and counselors. When I read the following words, my ears perked up higher than Mr. Spock from Star Trek.

“This Greco-Roman framing may help explain why Christian pastors and counselors have such a hard time convincing Christians that God actually loves them” (p. 266).

Game On

Until reading that quote, my plan was to let the “theologians” converse with Brian. Of course, theology intimately relates to everyday life, so I should have been willing to join the conversation from the get-go. But when I read that quote, it was “Game on.” Brian had served up his “gentle lob” and I would volley back.

This is why the specific emphasis of my tennis match, er, conversation, with Brian focuses on:

What are the implications of A New Kind of Christianity for “the personal ministry of the Word”—pastoral counseling, one another ministry, soul care, spiritual direction, biblical counseling, spiritual formation, Christian counseling, pastoral care, spiritual friendship, personal discipleship, one another ministry?

Call it whatever you want. I’ve spent the past quarter-century in the trenches of pastoral ministry comforting grieving parishioners, counseling struggling Christians, equipping lay people, pastors, and professional Christian counselors for “the personal ministry of the Word.”

Brian’s “ten questions” deserve a “pastoral ministry response.” Game on.

Read the entire article, and follow the series, here >>

3 John 8
Bill H.

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