I've been mulling over hearing Brian McLaren in Glasgow over the last week and have finally had the time to post on it.
First off... it was awesome to meet-up before hand with the disparate group of vagabonds I call friends. Stewart Cutler, Jay Thomas and Ian Emery turned up for a coffee and a blether... so to did Neal and his sweet wife Judith (who I kept calling Edith). We had a lovely banter going. Real warmth. Please read Stewart and Neal's blogposts in conjunction with this... for a more rounded review.
Secondly... my dad came through to hear Brian. I am amazed by my dad's willingness to embrace Brian's teaching. Both my mum and dad come from the Brethren tradition... and Brian's teaching / writing can be a bit leftfield at times. I think my dad has the right approach... judge the man by first hand experience - he has read Brian's books and came to hear him - and has nothing but praise for Brian. I wish more people from the old school were like my dad - people who value Jesus before denominations... people who judge a person by what they've read/heard and not what their pastor/officer/leader/pal thinks.
Thirdly... Brian was exactly how I envisaged him... and he spoke in a patient, gentle and thoughtful manner. He is demonised by some people and yet everything he said centred on Jesus and his love/support/connection/identification with both Jesus and his bride... the church. How he hasn't cracked under the pressure from all the criticism from the Pharisitical right... I just don't know... but then I can appreciate he is a man of deep faith following the mission of God... and, well... God's got his back.
So here's my notes/thoughts...
- Jesus didn't come to start a new religion.
- He came to start something else... something He called "THE KINGDOM OF GOD"
- In His day... this was an electric phrase... something provocative, contemporary, political and intense.
- However, today it is an anachronism... suggesting knights and round tables.
- It also infers domination and a lack of freedom.
- In the New Testament, the Apostles used new metaphors...
- John speaks of "ETERNAL LIFE" or better translated "LIFE OF THE AGES" which was in contrast to life in this present age.
- Emphasis on a new way of life.
- Paul spoke of "THE EMBODIMENT OF CHRIST" as well as "GOD'S FAMILY".
- Brian then went on to ask how Jesus would speak of the Kingdom today...
- Maybe He would talk of "THE DREAM OF GOD" like the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jnr spoke of? The idea is the "WISH" or "DESIRE" of God rather than His "WILL" via His dominant control.
- Or would He speak of "THE PEACEFUL REVOLUTION OF GOD". The idea being that this world is overrun by a dangerous and violent regime that must be changed through revolution... but a new kind of revolution. The Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jnr said something along the lines of "you can kill a killer but in doing so you reinforce killing". This revolution must be peaceful and must be one that incorporates men and women, the rich and the poor, the in and the out etc.
- Would Jesus speak of "THE MISSION OF GOD" aka MISSIO DEI? Where we seek to participate in God's mission... and get behind what He wants. This turns the idea of "recruitment" on its head. Consider the Fishermen Disciples - they went from Fishermen to Fishers of Men... who they were didn't change... but their mission did.
- How about "THE PARTY OF GOD" as in a Birthday Party (not a Political Party). A joyful celebration that is open to everyone... full of justice, peace and joy in the Spirit.
- Or "THE NETWORK OF GOD"? The interconnectedness of life... as recently brought to the fore by web2.0 apps etc. Where new information that the mainstream media isn't interested in continues to be disseminated.
- Maybe Jesus would talk of "THE DANCE OF GOD". Early Christians spoke of the dance of God as a means to describe the Trinity. The idea is that a dance is dynamic... continually moving... choreographed... where people are invited to dance. Sin, in this idea, is where we are out of step with the dance and keep messing up the moves.
- What about "THE SACRED ECOSYSTEM OF GOD"? Where the picture is formed of the cosmos/the planet is alignment... the food chain for example... dynamic... continually moving... adapting... where Humans are out of the system and need to be reintegrated.
- Similar to (7) is "GOD'S NEW PLANET"... in which John considered in Revelation... A new Heaven and a new Earth.
- Another idea, taken from the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jnr, is "THE BELOVED COMMUNITY OF GOD"...
- or "GOD'S NEW LOVE ECONOMY" where we have an ethic of responsibility rather than greed.
- Lastly, what about "THE INSURGENCY OF GOD" or "THE UN-TERROR NETWORK OF GOD" where cells plot goodness... where planes filled with kindness are flown into towers of greed.
- After this... the question was raised as to how we embody / live this in our communities... how do we carry this goodness into our worlds?
- Brian then went on to talk about the new emergence... and spoke of the desparate need for love, respect and patience for those not on our "wavelength".
- He spoke of the world continually existing in three stages: (1) pre-modern, (2) modern and (3) post-modern or emerging. What is "emerging" now will be "modern" at some point in the future... it will become the norm and something new will appear.
- As such, with regards to the church aka the Body of Christ aka the Bride, we need to consider DIVERSIFICATION not DIVISION. We need to stop competing and start apprecitating what is around us. Emergents appreciating the church/ church apprecitating emergents etc.
- We also need to consider flexibility in mission... and determine the purpose of the church as being to train people up to act as agents of change. People who are taught the dance steps... who can reach out to others to invite them to the dance. Dancers who spread God's rhythm and joy.
I never grabbed notes because I was too busy following the discussion/interaction of the panel. Neal did, however, and I would recommend you check his scribbles out.
I do hope to get the individual panelists onto the podcast... because their thoughts/answers demonstrated people with extraordinary stories worth sharing... watch this space.
All in... it was an awesome evening... topped off by a fab blether with Stewart and my dad on the way home.
Thank you Brian! You are an inspiration to us all. I just wish I could have said that to you in person... instead of shaking your handing and going all shy like a wee girly meeting her Boyband idol. Keep going.
Oh and... Emmsy was there too. Read what she had to say.