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Brian McLaren is the chief representative of the Emerging Church Movement, if such a person exists. There are so many ideas within the movement that it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what the people associated therein believe about the gospel or any other first-order doctrine of orthodox Christianity. They also purposely use language that makes their beliefs difficult to decipher because they are continually emerging and are trying to reach postmodernists. As a result of the ambiguity of the movement, and although explaining McLaren’s beliefs will prove virtually impossible because they may “emerge” even more before this article is read, this writer will nevertheless seek to explain why McLaren’s doctrines are foreign to the salvific theme of the Reformation: salvation is by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
Concerning the Reformation, McLaren claims to respect the tradition. He argues in favor of continually reforming, and has even been heralded by some sympathizers of the Emergent Church Movement as a contemporary reformer in the likeness of the Protestant Reformers. Furthermore, McLaren “humbly” purports that his book A New Kind of Christianity is of greater substance and motivation than the 95 Theses of Martin Luther, but exists in the same vein of “something new”:
But the ninety-sixth thesis for today must be very different from the original ninety-five, because we already have more hate than we need, and a surplus of debate too, much of which is inversely proportional in intensity to the actual importance of its topic. At this moment in history, we need something more radical and transformative than a new state: we need a new quest. We need more than a new static location from which we proclaim, “Here I stand!” Instead, we need a new dynamic direction into which we move together, proclaiming, “Here we go!” We need a deep shift not merely from our current state to a new state, but from a steady state to a dynamic story. We need not a new set of beliefs, but a new way of believing, not simply new answers to the same old questions, but a new set of questions. Again: new statements (theses, propositions, answers) can inspire debate and bring us to a new state. But only new questions can inspire new conversations that can launch us on a new quest. So, in homage to Martin Luther, this new statement, or ninety-sixth thesis, is humbly offered, in fear and trembling, to my fellow Christians of all denominations around the world: It’s time for a new quest, launched by new questions, a quest across denominations around the world, a quest for new ways to believe and new ways to live and serve faithfully in the way of Jesus, a quest for a new kind of Christian faith.”
McLaren at least considers his motives and declarations comparable to the motivations and desires of the Protestant Reformers. As will be examined shortly, it is difficult for McLaren to make such claims whenever he argues against the central salvific theme of the Reformation. What he argues is foreign to Zwingli, Luther, or Calvin. His doctrines are indeed new, but they are not a New Kind of Christianity, as his book purports; instead, they leave Christianity altogether for the sake of “McLarenism.”
Sinners Need God’s Salvation
The Reformation argued in favor of man’s need for salvation because of his sin; and this need has been a central theme for Christianity ever since redemption’s prophetic inception in Genesis 3:15. Sometimes the Reformation cry has been for a tangible here and now salvation, but overwhelmingly the cry has been for an eternal salvation from sin and its curse, a salvation that begins now but is fully realized in eternity. McLaren believes in salvation from sin, but he does not believe in original sin or the Fall. He also does not believe that sinners are the enemies of God because of their sin; rather they are His friends that He wants to use to create a utopia on earth for everyone. Concerning the real reason why God sent Jesus to earth, McLaren writes:
Instead, he [Jesus] came to announce a new kingdom, a new way of life, a new way of peace that carried good news to all people of every religion. A new kingdom is much bigger than a new religion, and in fact it has room for many religious traditions within it. This good news wasn’t simply about a new way to solve the religious problems of ontological fall and original sin (problems, remember once more, that arise centuries later and within a different narrative altogether). It wasn’t simply information about how individual souls could leave earth, avoid hell, and ascend to heaven after death. No, it was about God’s faithful solidarity with all humanity in our suffering, oppression, and evil. It was about God’s compassion and call to be reconciled with God and with one another—before death, on earth. It was a summons to rethink everything and enter a life of retraining as disciples or learners of a new way of life, citizens of a new kingdom.
McLaren believes God sent Jesus to establish His kingdom on earth. The church is to continue His work for the good of all humanity, both Christians and non-Christians. Thus, the exclusivity of Christianity is foreign to McLaren. “It bothers me,” he writes, “to use exclusive and Jesus in the same sentence. Everything about Jesus’ life and message seemed to be about inclusion, not exclusion.” So, Jesus came to earth, not to save sinners from the wrath of God, but to save sinners from themselves and each other. Since McLaren does not believe that the Fall transformed anything, he argues that man simply is not as good as he once was due to sin, and that he needs to work toward being better in the likeness of Christ for the good of everyone in order to continue bringing about God’s Kingdom on earth.
Furthermore, the Christian and Reformation idea concerning a sinner’s condemnation to hell in eternal conscience torment of God’s wrath is foreign to McLaren’s writings. Rarely does McLaren speak about heaven or hell or eternity, and when he does, he tips his hand to reveal that he is probably a universalist. He also reveals that he believes eternal conscience torment is foreign to the Scriptures, and is rather an idea founded upon interpretations based on Greco-Roman Platonic ideologies:
Now, before I address my uneasiness about those images, I need to say again that nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures do I find anything as horrible as Theos. Yes, I find a character named God who sends a flood that destroys all humanity except for Noah’s family, but that’s almost trivial compared to a deity who tortures the greater part of humanity forever in infinite eternal conscious torment, three words that need to be read slowly and thoughtfully to feel their full import. Yes, I find a character named God who directs a band of nomadic former slaves to fight and claim from more powerful nations a piece of land for themselves, but never does this God direct them to expand their borders, brutally conquer and occupy weaker nations, and create a global totalitarian regime through slavery and genocide as Theos-Zeus-Jupiter likes to do. Yes, I find a character named God who does a good bit of smiting, but those who are smitten are simply smitten and buried, and that’s it. They are not shamed and tortured for a while by the “godly” before death and then shamed and tortured by God after death—forever and ever, without end. Now, I am in no way interested in excusing or defending divine smiting, genocidal conquest, or global quasi-geocidal flooding; I’m just saying that even if these are the crimes of Elohim/Lord, they are far less serious crimes than those of Theos.
McLaren is so repulsed by eternal conscience torment that he does not even credit such a reality to God, but instead charges it as a crime to Theos. He allows for “crimes” to possibly be charged to God, but he definitely does not believe that the doctrine of everlasting punishment in hell is the satisfying of God’s divine wrath toward sinners. Man must rather reconcile himself to God “through” Christ by following Christ’s example in trying to bring about God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
Salvation is Given by the God of the Reformers
Traditionally and biblically since the Reformation, salvation has been found through God’s grace alone. The Reformers understood the Scriptures to reveal inerrant truth about God in their original writings. They understood the Scriptures literally; although, they sometimes spiritualized the text as well. Overall though, the Protestant church has had a high view of God, believing that God’s holiness and justice demand the punishment of sinners or the punishment of Jesus on their behalf. McLaren however approaches the Scriptures, not as an exegete, but as authoritative autonomous interpreter. For lack of a better word to describe his audacious hermeneutics, his arrogance is astounding. Concerning the global flood found in Genesis 6-9, McLaren writes,
In this light, a god who mandates an intentional supernatural disaster leading to unparalleled genocide is hardly worthy of belief, much less worship. How can you ask your children—or nonchurch colleagues and neighbors—to honor a deity so uncreative, overreactive, and utterly capricious regarding life? To make matters worse, the global holocaust strategy didn’t even work. Soon the “good guy” Noah gets drunk, and soon after that his sons are up to no good, and soon after that we’re right back to the antediluvian violence and crime levels. Genocide, it turns out, doesn’t really solve anything in Genesis, even if a character named “God” does it. (Could that be a more worthy lesson to draw from the text?)
Respect toward McLaren is difficult to achieve for anyone with a high view of the Protestant Christian God because of statements like this about the God of the Bible. Instead of taking the flood as it is written, instead of exegeting the text, McLaren changes what he does not like about God, choosing instead to create a god of his own making. His arrogance does not stop here, for his newest book A New Kind of Christianity is full of such references:
In previous chapters, we saw God as the good creator in Genesis, as the compassionate liberator in Exodus, and as the reconciling king, lover, and father of all people in the prophets. But as a serious reader of the Bible, I’m still a little uneasy, because I know about some of the other images of God that are also found in the Bible—violent images, cruel images, un-Christlike images.
McLaren clearly calls God, the only God that exists, his Creator, un-Christlike. He simply does not like the images accredited to God in the Hebrew Scriptures, and he will either try to explain them away, or he will try to accredit the “un-Christlike” images to a Greco-Roman Platonic view of God instead of his purported Aristotelian view:
Now the god of this Greco-Roman version of the biblical story bears a strange similarity in many ways to Zeus (Jupiter for the Romans), but we will name him Theos. The Greco-Roman god Theos, I suggest, is a far different deity from the Jewish Elohim of Genesis 1, or Lord (referring to the unspeakable name of the Creator) of Genesis 2 and 12, not to mention the Abba to whom Jesus prayed. As a good—no, make that perfect—Platonic god, Theos loves spirit, state, and being and hates matter, story, and becoming, since, once again, the latter involve change, and the only way to change or move from perfection is downward into decay. In fact, as soon as something drops out of the state of perfection, Theos is possessed by a pure and irresistible urge to destroy it (or make it suffer).
Once again, McLaren simply picks and chooses what he likes about God, and discards the rest. The staggering reality is how he argues against the Reformers’ view, and the historically overarching Jewish and Christian view of God. He blasphemes God by first associating Him with evil, and second, by creating an idol named Theos to take credit for the evil that he associates with God. He also wrongly gives his Christian god only credit for things that he believes are worthy of praise. Furthermore, instead of the God-centered approach encouraged by the Reformers, where Christians take, believe, and live in response to what the Scriptures reveal about God,  McLaren allows himself and his audience to dictate what they like to think about God. His doctrines therefore speak more about anthropology than they do about theology.
Salvation is by God’s Grace
Concerning the grace given by God, the Reformers did not believe that salvation was found through men, their abilities, social programs, the pursuit of a utopia on earth, common good, etc. The Reformers emphatically emphasized the sinner’s need for God’s unmerited favor, i.e. grace. McLaren agrees with man’s need for God’s grace, but he defines God’s grace differently than the Reformers:
Perhaps most powerfully of all, Jesus’ liberating message is embodied in his own life and example, in his interactions with people, and most decisively in his crucifixion and resurrection. As he is misunderstood, arrested, falsely accused, tortured, and crucified, he manifests an unflinching attitude of forgiveness, enacting the essential drama of his story: The evil of human beings may break boundary after boundary, but the grace of God is always wider, deeper, bigger, and more powerful than human wickedness. God’s grace will surely triumph over human evil, and the story of the resurrection celebrates the power of faith to triumph over the machinery of societal suicide.
Although his definitions and descriptions are almost always subtle, the reader must notice that McLaren calls the resurrection, the central distinguishing mark of Christ overcoming the results of the Fall and justifying sinners in the presence of His Father, a “triumph over the machinery of societal suicide.” So, instead of Christ’s resurrection sealing God’s grace to the elect or even making God’s grace possible for the elect, it instead revealed His conquering of the machinery of societal suicide. Society thus cannot commit suicide because even though it killed the best human ever, He conquered their wicked deeds by rising from the dead to show the church that by following His example, they too can triumph over the evil deeds of society by seeking the common good of all humanity.
Salvation is by God’s Grace Alone
The Reformation not only emphasized God’s grace, but also emphasized that salvation is by God’s grace alone. Apart from God’s unmerited favor given to repentant humans, there is no hope for humanity. Regardless what man conjures up as meritorious for salvation, apart from divine grace alone he will be condemned forever. McLaren agrees with God’s gift of grace, but confuses common grace with saving grace:
I was liberated by a new understanding of the story of Abraham. I realized that there was a Part A and a Part B to God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12. Yes, in Part A God says, “I will bless you… I will make you a great nation.” But that was only half of the story, because in Part B God added, “I will make you a blessing… all the nations of the world will be blessed through you.” The conventional view of Christian Zionists depends on reading Part A alone, so the world falls into two categories, “some/us” who are elected and “others/them” who are rejected. When I was no longer able to break apart what God put together, when I included Part B with Part A, God’s choice of some was no longer exclusive of others; it was instrumental for others. God no longer played favorites, but, in line with the teaching of Jesus, graciously gave rain and sun to all people.
He evidently believes that all mankind regardless if they know Jesus or not, still receive grace from God to empower them to love one another in order to bring about God’s kingdom on earth. Sometimes this grace is found in other religions, humanism, etc., and other times it is found in Christianity. McLaren clearly departs the Reformers in his belief, but he does seem to believe that “salvation” is by God’s grace alone; but as examined earlier, his god is different, and the grace is different than the special grace given by the God of the Reformers to only the elect.
Salvation is through Faith
Not only did the Reformers argue that salvation is by God’s grace alone, but it is also by faith. Faith was a necessity in the Reformation known as solus fide. Repentance as well was coupled with faith. They are two sides of the same coin, in a manner of speaking. McLaren, although he speaks of faith quite frequently, rarely speaks of having or possessing faith; he instead speaks of the Christian faith and other faiths. Concerning Christ’s definition of faith, Steve Chalke in McLaren’s book Finding Faith: A Search for What Makes Sense writes,
[Jesus] He had what we often lack—the maturity to see that faith isn’t something you either have or don’t have, but something that ebbs and flows in the life and soul of every individual. Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith. It is an element of faith. Where there is absolute certainty, there can be no room for faith. Jesus never compelled people to believe. Instead He invited people to have faith. And that’s very different. He accepted even that His closest and most loyal followers (the church’s future leaders) would have their doubts and their misunderstandings. Rather than demanding absolute certainty or doctrinal orthodoxy from His followers and adopting a policy of “zero tolerance,” He encouraged them to explore their doubts, ask their questions, and express themselves honestly.
The ability to write much while truly saying very little is amazingly prevalent throughout the Emergent Church Movement. With McLaren’s endorsement, Chalke argues that Jesus never compelled people to believe; however, the reality is that Christ emphasizes believing in Him and on Him throughout the Gospels. Furthermore, the idea of faith ebbing and flowing in the life and soul of every individual, both the elect and non-elect, is foreign to the Reformers.
Salvation is through Faith Alone
The Reformers emphasized God’s miraculous work in redeeming sinners through saving faith alone, not a “willy nilly” faith, or a common faith. It seems that Chalke like McLaren has infused the doctrine of common grace into his idea of faith, creating a new doctrine altogether: common faith. Furthermore, McLaren obviously is not concerned with correct belief (orthodoxy); while the Reformation on the other hand was spurred based on a desire for biblical orthodoxy that led to orthopraxy. Without orthodoxy, the Reformers did not believe orthopraxy was possible. McLaren, however, believes that orthodoxy is irrelevant. “Correct” faith is not a concern of his. For example, in The Last Word, and the Word after That, he has a character named Neil say, “Dan, when it comes to other religions,… the question isn’t so much whether we’re right, but rather we’re good. And it strikes me that goodness, not just rightness, is what Jesus said the real issue was—you know, good trees produce good fruit, that sort of thing.” So, McLaren believes that the real issue is not correct belief, but is instead correct actions.
Because of the aforementioned grace of God proceeding to everyone on earth, and because every individual also possesses the ability to have “saving” faith in McLarenism, it is no wonder why McLaren exalts “orthopraxy” over orthodoxy. This un-Reformed development of his doctrines is the natural outworking of his purported foundations. There is no need for correct belief in a world where humanity already has the benefits of the special grace that the Reformers believed foundational orthodoxy gave them—although the Reformers believed that even orthodoxy was a benefit of God’s special grace in their ordo salutis. Even though McLaren agrees that “salvation” is by “God’s grace alone” through “faith alone,” his definitions of these terms are so foreign to the Reformers that he cannot be credited with believing like them even when he uses the same language because his underlying doctrines would be considered blasphemy by them.
Salvation is through Jesus Christ
Not only did the Reformers believe that salvation is by God’s grace alone through faith alone, but they also believed that salvation is in Jesus Christ. To them there was no other mediator between God and man, save Christ the righteous. Solus Christus was their theme as they argued for no other Way of personal salvation. God justifies sinners through the finished work of Christ alone. At one time, McLaren believed this truth; however, he became convinced that Western Christianity has read the gospel of Jesus Christ through the lens of the apostle Paul instead of reading Paul through the lens of Jesus’ definition of the gospel:
A lunchtime meeting in a Chinese restaurant unconvinced and untaught me. My lunch mate was a well-known Evangelical theologian who quite rudely upset years of theological certainty with one provocative statement: “Most Evangelicals haven’t got the foggiest notion of what the gospel really is.” He then asked me how I would define the gospel, and I answered as an good Romans Protestant would, quoting Romans. He followed up with this simple but annoying rhetorical question: “You’re quoting Paul. Shouldn’t you let Jesus define the gospel?” When I gave him a quizzical look, he asked, “What was the gospel according to Jesus?” A little humiliated, I mumbled something akin to “You tell me,” and he replied, “For Jesus, the gospel was very clear: The kingdom of God is at hand. That’s the gospel according to Jesus, Right?” I again mumbled something, maybe “I guess so.” Seeing my lack of conviction, he added, “Shouldn’t you read Paul in light of Jesus, instead of reading Jesus in light of Paul?”
McLaren not only exalts the words of Jesus above the other Scriptures, but he also changes the words, sentences, and genres of Paul’s letters, specifically the book of Romans, based on his presupposed idea that Christ preached the good news of God’s kingdom existing on earth alone. So, every time he hears the gospel message proclaimed by Paul, he hears the message of the kingdom instead of justification by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
Furthermore, McLaren speaks often of Western Christianity’s refusal to allow progressive revelation to build upon previous truth, saying instead that they should allow the text to define the terms used by later Christians. The problem is that much of Western Christianity is within the tradition of the Reformation; so, when McLaren speaks of the West, he speaks of the Reformers: “…I believe the Christian religion in the West, as it habitually read the Bible backwards through the lenses of later Christians, largely lost track of the frontward story line of Adam, Abraham, Moses, and so on, within which Jesus had emerged.” According to McLarenism, Reformational hermeneutics are incorrect and wrong—although this writer believes that even when the Scriptures are studied with McLaren’s frontward focus, justification by faith alone in Christ alone by God’s grace alone is still the exegetical result.
Also Contrary to the Reformers, McLaren forgets that Abraham was justified by faith before the moral standard of God was even given. Abraham believed God and righteousness was accredited to him as result of trusting in the coming Seed. The apostle Paul argues in favor of this reality in Galatians 3 and 4. Readers must wonder how McLaren neglects this reality for Paul merely quotes the Old Testament to prove his point; he does not add to the text, but quotes Genesis 15:6 verbatim.
Furthermore, Jesus Christ has always been the basis of justification within the Reformers’ thoughts and conservative Protestantism, but McLaren disagrees with this doctrine, arguing instead that good works are only what Jesus is concerned about:
With no apologies to Martin Luther, John Calvin, or modern evangelicalism, Jesus (in Luke 16:19) does not prescribe hell to those who refuse to accept the message of justification by grace through faith, or to those who are predestined for perdition, or to those who don’t express faith in a favored atonement theory by accepting Jesus as their “personal Savior.” Rather, hell—literal or figurative—is for the rich and comfortable who proceed on their way without concern for their poor neighbor day after day. As Jesus also makes clear in the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), they fail to love their neighbors as themselves and fail to follow “what is written in the Law,” and therefore will not inherit eternal life.
McLaren uses Christ’s words to point to his purported magnum opus, that the gospel is God’s kingdom existing on earth. He believes that Christians and non-Christians alike should seek the betterment of all humanity in order to continue the development of God’s kingdom on earth. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ thus exists only as an example for others to follow. McLaren even argues that humans are the audience of the cross, witnesses of God the Son’s example in suffering, instead of the offenders of God’s righteousness:
Even we who believe have to choose how we will interpret the meaning of the cross. Contemporary pop atonement theology is an interpretation, and therefore a choice, as is this alternate view. Do we choose to see God as the distanced judge, or as the involved victim and friend? Is God the offended potentate who needs somewhere to vent His revenge? Or is God the fellow victim who suffers, endures, accepts the ugliest and fiercest human rage and injustice—as Hosea suffered and endured Gomer’s wandering lusts? Is God the audience waiting for a good performance by Jesus? Or is God-in-Christ the tragic actor; and are we the audience, seeing God pour out His heart, all the while hoping we will truly see, understand, learn, repent, turn, return?
If humanity will follow Jesus’ example, they can overcome the wickedness in the world through loving God and their neighbors, just as Jesus did. McLaren does not believe in penal substitution, arguing that it is just “one more injustice in the cosmic equation. It sounds like divine child abuse. You know?” So, McLaren at least affirms that salvation is found “through” Christ, but in opposition to the Reformers and the substitutionary atonement, this “salvation” is actually found in following Christ’s humane example. Instead of reviling in return, Jesus stretched out His arms and died so that humans will not revile in return either, but instead will seek to continue bringing about God’s kingdom on earth through good works toward one another; and thus toward God as well.
Salvation is through Jesus Christ Alone
Another mark of the Reformation was the Reformers’ emphasis on solus Christus. They literally believed that salvation was found in none other than Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, alone. Protestantism has often been defined as well by this Christ-centered mark. McLaren agrees, but extends Christ’s “atoning” work to all of humanity, not based on their faith or repentance, but based on God’s love, mercy, salvation, etc. encompassing all of humanity. He therefore views the “atonement” of Christ through the lens of common grace although he only uses the term “grace.” Therefore, instead of seeking souls with this exclusive gospel message of the Reformers, McLaren argues that, “Missional Christian faith asserts that Jesus did not come to make some people saved and others condemned. Jesus did not come to help some people be right while leaving everyone else to be wrong. Jesus did not come to create another exclusive religion…” So, although Jesus is in a sense the only way, His example and work somehow encompasses the whole of humanity. This is the only alternative if Christ does not demand exclusive rites to individuals through His finished work, but is inclusive of all people regardless their allegiance.
In another example McLaren has one of his characters named Neil say, “In the long run, I’d have to say that the world is better off for having these religions than having no religions at all, or just one, even if it were ours.” Due to the emphasis on good works, McLaren points to morality in other religions and societies as proof for his inclusive Christ. He therefore could honestly say that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone, but based on the evidence, he believes that Christ’s work and example is evident in all humanity, and all of the world should get together in peace for the common good of God’s kingdom on earth in Christ-like example.
In conclusion, although McLaren could claim to believe that salvation is by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone in the likeness of the Reformers, he nevertheless departs the Reformers and the conservative Protestant Tradition in favor of McLarenism. He redefines the theological terms of the gospel to suit his own theological anthropology. Although his arguments and doctrines will continue to emerge, the reality is that he will likely look nothing like the Reformational heritage of his youth as his years progress, for he has already left justification by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone as known by the Reformers and the conservative Protestant Church today.
Calvin, John. 2 Corinthians and Timothy, Titus, & Philemon, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries Series, no. 10. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1996.
George, Timothy. Theology of the Reformers. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 1988.
Johnson, Gary and Ronald Gleason, eds. Reforming or Conforming? Post-Conservative Evangelicals and the Emerging Church. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008.
McLaren, Brian. A Generous Orthodoxy. El Cajon, CA: Youth Specialties, 2004.
. A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2001.
. A New Kind of Christianity. New York, NY: HarperOne, 2010.
. “Chosen for What?” Tikkun, 1 May 2008, 59-60. http://www.proquest.com/ (accessed May 31, 2010).
. Everything Must Change: When the World’s Biggest Problems and Jesus’ Good News Collide. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007.
. Finding Faith: A Search for What Makes Sense. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007.
. “An Open Letter to Chuck Colson,” http://www.anewkindofchristian.com/archives/000269.html.
. “Q & R: What is the gospel?” http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/q-r-gospel.html.
. “The Cross as Prophetic Action.” In Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross: Contemporary Images of the Atonement,” ed. Mark D. Baker. 110-121. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006.
. The Last Word and the Word after That: A Tale of Faith, Doubt, and a New Kind of Christianity. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2005.
. The Story We Find Ourselves In: Further Adventures of a New Kind of Christian, Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series, no. 2. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2003.
. “The Stories We Tell Ourselves.” Sojourners Magazine, 1 November 2007, 16-17, 19, 21-24. http://www.proquest.com/ (accessed May 31, 2010).
Nichols, Stephen J. The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007.
Robinson, Anthony B. “Review of A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith.” The Christian Century. (20 April 2010): 37-39. http://www.proquest.com/ (accessed May 31, 2010).
 Gary Johnson and Ronald Gleason, eds., Reforming or Conforming? Post-Conservative Evangelicals and the Emerging Church, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008), 21.
 It is frustrating to read most of the works of the Emergent Church, for few of their writings are clear or straightforward. Instead, they are often full of double speak, descriptions of nothings that can be interpreted whimsically by their readers.
 Stephen J. Nichols, The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007), 18 and 23. Nichols argues that the gospel is the treasure of the Reformation.
 Anthony B. Robinson, “Review of A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith,” The Christian Century, (20 April 2010): 37. http://www.proquest.com/ (accessed May 31, 2010).
 Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, (New York, NY: HarperOne, 2010), 17-18.
 Timothy George, Theology of the Reformers, (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 1988), 213-216, 221. John Calvin argued that God’s wrath and love towards the elect are held in juxtaposition. God loves sinners even while hating them because of their sin.
 The judgment of God is detailed in Genesis 3:15 after the Serpent’s deception, and the Fall of Adam and Eve. There will be a Seed of woman coming that the Serpent will bruise, but the Seed will crush him. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy.
 McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, 139.
 Brian McLaren, The Last Word and the Word after That: A Tale of Faith, Doubt, and a New Kind of Christianity, (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2005), 35.
 McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, 41-43.
 See Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, (El Cajon, CA: Youth Specialties, 2004), 112, as he recommends If Grace is True: Why God Will Save Every Person by Philip Gullery and James Mulholland. This book is one of several that he recommends for any of his readers that want to explore various answers to “the hell question.” See also Johnson and Gleason, eds., Reforming or Conforming: Post-Conservative Evangelicals and the Emerging Church, 245-268, 283, for similar musings about McLaren probably being a universalist.
 McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, 98-99.
 Brian D. McLaren, “Q & R: What is the gospel?” http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/q-r-gospel.html.
 John Calvin, 2 Corinthians and Timothy, Titus, & Philemon, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries Series, no. 10 (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1996), 330. Calvin says, “… we owe to the Scripture the same reverence as we owe to God since it has its only source in Him and has nothing of human origin mixed with it.” Also see, Nichols, The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World, 18, for a brief argument that the Reformers gave the Protestant Church the doctrine of sola scriptura.
 McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, 109.
 This writer is amazed that Mark Driscoll is included in the same movement with Brian McLaren. This writer suggests that the gospel should be the defining mark of any movement associated with the church. Driscoll and those postmodern thinkers who affirm that salvation is by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone should be part of the Emergent Church Movement while every other postmodern thinker that does not affirm the gospel should be associated with another movement called the Emergent Cult Movement.
 McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, 98.
 Ibid., 42.
 See Timothy George, Theology of the Reformers, 216-223, for a brief description of Zwingli’s, Luther’s, and Calvin’s Christ-Centered theologies.
 Brian McLaren, “The Stories We Tell Ourselves,” Sojourners Magazine, 1 November 2007, 22. http://www.proquest.com/ (accessed May 31, 2010).
 See McLaren, Everything Must Change: When the World’s Biggest Problems and Jesus’ Good News Collide, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 208. He writes, “In case after case, Jesus calls people to repent and defect from the goal of growing their personal wealth portfolios, and instead he calls them to grow their good deeds portfolios for the common good, especially the good of the poor and marginalized. The result will be qualitative improvement in the lives of everyone.” See also Brian D. McLaren, “Q & R: What is the Gospel?” http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/q-r-gospel.html. He writes, “The kingdom of God is at hand. The kingdom of God – God’s reconciling community, God’s new way of living, God’s dream for creation, God’s mission in this world, God’s healing of all creation, God’s will being done on earth as in heaven, Creation 2.0. At hand – within reach, available to everyone, truly here and at work, present, inviting our participation, calling us to rethink everything and reorient our lives. This is the good news Jesus proclaimed both before (Mark 1:14) and after (Acts 1:3) the resurrection. It’s also the good news Paul proclaimed (Acts 28:23, 31). It’s the one I hope more and more of us rediscover, embody, celebrate, and proclaim as well.”
 Brian McLaren, Chosen for What? Tikkun, 1 May 2008, 60. http://www.proquest.com/ (accessed May 31, 2010).
 McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, 263-264.
 Brian McLaren, Finding Faith: A Search for What Makes Sense, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), 10.
 It must be noted that Zwingli believed that God chose some sinners for salvation without any prior saving knowledge of Christ or the Christian God. If they were outside the boundaries of chronological or geographical redemption history, he held that some were still chosen by God. Zwingli however was staunchly different than McLaren, for he believed that God’s election of the gospel-ignorant heathen was not based on universal revelation of God in nature or their own meritorious deeds, but was rather based on God’s decision to choose whom He will. The ordo salutis remained the same, since election logically came first. Thus, justification still sealed the heathen sinner in the same manner, but the difference was that there was no human involvement in proclaiming the gospel, whether in audible or written from. See George, Theology of the Reformers, 124-125.
 Nichols, The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World, 23.
 Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey, (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2001), 61.
 See Brian D. McLaren, “An Open Letter to Chuck Colson,” http://www.anewkindofchristian.com/archives/000269.html. In this letter McLaren wrote the following, “Neither you nor I think that postmodernity or modernity is ‘the answer.’ Rather, we both believe the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God to salvation – for the modern and the postmodern alike.” This letter dates back to 2003; so, McLaren’s doctrines may have emerged i.e. changed even more since then. He may not believe this statement anymore; or he is probably able to make such statements by redefining terms like “gospel,” “Jesus Christ,” “power,” and “God,” unbeknownst to many of his readers.
 Nichols, The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World, 18.
 McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, 139.
 This writer is always fascinated by individuals that exalt the words of Christ above the words of other Scripture writers. After all, the words of Christ were recorded by other Scripture writers. Granted, this writer believes their detailing of Christ is accurate, but if other Scripture writers do not carry the authority of Christ, then the Gospel writers do not either. They clearly only included events in Christ’s life that helped communicate the themes and purposes of their Gospels. If the other Scripture writers cannot be trusted as much as Christ, then the Gospel writers’ themes and purposes cannot be trusted as much as Christ either; even though they detailed some of Christ’s life accurately. Furthermore, if God the Holy Spirit carried along all the writers of Scripture, then those people that exalt the words of Christ above the words of other Scripture writers also exalt the words of Christ above the words of God the Holy Spirit. If they jest at such a statement, then they must diminish the words of Christ as equally as they diminish the words of the other Scripture writers.
 McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, 41.
 McLaren, Everything Must Change: When the World’s Biggest Problems and Jesus’ Good News Collide, 208.
 Brian McLaren, “The Cross as Prophetic Action,” in Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross: Contemporary Images of the Atonement,” ed. Mark D. Baker, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 119.
 Brian McLaren, The Story We Find Ourselves In: Further Adventures of a New Kind of Christian, Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series, no. 2, (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2003), 143.
 McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, 139.
 Nichols, The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World, 18.
 McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, 109.
 McLaren, A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey, 63.
 McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, 263-264.
 This writer prays that he returns and perseveres in the faith once delivered to the saints.