ok, here we go. here’s part 1 of this series, which gives a bit of the background as to why i’m doing this. at this point, it looks to be a 5-part series.
thoughts in response to “Brian McLaren’s Contextualization of the Bible”, by David Hesselgrave, in Evangelical Missions Quarterly (EMQ), January, 2007
Initial thought: it seems clear the author is trying to be fair (or at least thinks he is trying to be fair). he actually structures the article in a way i found fairly generous, that is: he uses brian’s terminology of ‘believing, belonging, and becoming’ as three of the four major sections. after the intro, for each section, he attempts to fairly present brian’s position (and has widely mixed results with his attempts), then presents the position of the IFMA (interdenominational foreign missions association — if i remember correctly; oddly enough, their website ONLY has the initials, and never lists — that i can find — the words it stands for!), citing the ifma’s rather lengthy statement of belief. finally, each section has a “toward an analysis” section, where hesselgrave says why brian is wrong (i’m simplifying, but it’s basically that). he more generous to brian in the early part of the article, and gets more and more ruthless as it progresses.
the opening section of the article starts with a story of a professor the author had back in the day, who the students (including the author) had a love/hate relationship with. they both loved and hated his strong but oblique flame-thrower comments (my words, not hesselgrave’s). then, hesselgrave writes this:
McLaren himself says, “There are places here where I have gone out of my way to be provocative, mischievous and unclear, reflecting my belief that clarity is sometimes overrated, and that shock, obscurity, playfulness and intrigue (carefully articulated) often stimulate more thought than clarity.” Although this may be standard fare in university classrooms, these techniques have much less currency in the communication of divine truth.
I have a HUGE problem with that last sentence (my bold). In this little sentence, the author has just dismissed 90% of Jesus’ teaching, in favor of a modernistic (and likely, Paul-enamored) approach to how truth is revealed or engaged. really, i’m just baffled how someone can make a comment like this, especially a seasoned academic, writing in a journal. most of jesus’ teaching could be characterized as provocative, mischeivous and unclear, full of shock, obscurity, playfulness and intrigue. the disciples didn’t ‘get it’ much of the time. jesus RARELY explained himself (and when he did, it was usually to a few, not to the crowd). jesus clearly speaks in kingdom language, not objective truth language.
next, part 3: brian’s perspective on being missional and incarnational, and what i believe is hesselgrave’s most audacious and troubling sentence.