Monday, April 21, 2014

I Don't Think This is What the Empty Tomb Means

I am noticing a pattern here (see here and here). What we have witnessed from the keyboard of Brian McLaren this past Passion Week is the remaining residue of liberal deconstructionism of the gospel story. McLaren has systematically denied virtually all of orthodoxy (is there any primary doctrine of the faith he hasn't challenged, questioned, or deconstructed?). This includes the doctrine of the resurrection.

Over the weekend, McLaren wrote the following:
The scandal of Easter was not simply that a supernatural event occurred. Minds in the ancient world weren't divided by the rigid natural-supernatural dualism that forms modern minds. In those days miracles were notable not for defying the laws of nature (a concept that was unknown until recent centuries), but for conveying an unexpected meaning or message through an unusual or unexplainable medium. What was the scandalous meaning conveyed by the resurrection of Jesus?

It was not simply that a dead man was raised. It was who the raised man was. Someone rejected, mocked, condemned, and executed by both the political and religious establishments was raised. A convicted outlaw, troublemaker, and rabble rouser was raised. A condemned blasphemer and lawbreaker was raised. A nonviolent nonconformist who included the outcasts - and therefore became an outcast - was raised. What does that mean about the authoritative institutions that condemned him? What does that mean about his nonconformist message and nonviolent ways? (emphasis his)
McLaren then notes that the above quote is taken from his book Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? There's always a plug.

In essence, this is not what Christianity teaches. First, the suggestion that the ancient world viewed miracles as not defying the laws of nature . . . but for conveying an unexpected meaning or message through an unusual or unexplainable medium is misleading. Perhaps he is confusing ancient beliefs about miracles with their beliefs about myths. The ancients categorized miracles in much the same way we do today. The word "miracle" implies something non-natural. The ancients understood that a man walking on water was a miracle simply because it defied the laws of nature.

This mischaracterization leads to his second mistake. By saying that the ancients did not view a supernatural act like the resurrection in the same way as we do, he then spiritualizes the who was raised. One problem with this is squaring it with biblical revelation. The apostles and the women, we are told, "marveled" and "wonder" at the resurrected Lord. They understood that dead people do not come back to life. This was supernatural. This was miraculous. The fact of the resurrection, not just the who, is important. If Christ had not been raised, our faith is a fool's knave.

But McLaren is right in suggesting the who is important. It is critical that Christ, not Peter or Pilate, was raised. The reason for this lies in the meaning of the cross and the work of Christ in salvation. Christ died for our sins. Christ, and Christ alone, was raised for our justification. The significance of his resurrection was not that he had been rejected, mocked, condemned, and executed by both the political and religious establishments, but that He is God incarnate and redeemer.

In light of this, we can answer McLaren's final questions. What does that mean about the authoritative institutions that condemned him? What does that mean about his nonconformist message and nonviolent ways? Simple. Repent and believe the gospel. We are to respond to the cross and resurrection by repenting or rebelling - both corporately and individually. Reconfiguring, as McLaren is doing here, is just another form of the latter.


I Don't Think That is What Palm Sunday is All About
I Don't Think This is What Good Friday Means
I Don't Think This is What the Empty Tomb Means


For more:
I Don't Think That is What Palm Sunday is All About
Farewell Old Friend: Saying Goodbye to the Emergent Church
Thesis | Brian McLaren and Emergent Soteriology: From Cultural Accomodation to the Kindgom of God - Full Series
McLaren on Hell and Universalism . . . Again
Hades, Hell, and McLaren's Eisegesis
The Clarity of Ambiguity: The Erosion of the Perspicuity of Scripture in the Emergent Church - the Complete Series
Where to Begin?: 10 Emergent Must Reads 
"A New Kind of Christianity" - A 11 part review and critique of McLaren's book
Revelation and the Ambiguity of Justification: McLaren Adds to the Confusion
Does McLaren Reject Penal Substitution?: A Review of the Evidence
Hamilton: McLaren and Whole Foods Stores
SBTS and McLaren: A Response to SBTS Panel Discussion
The Evolving God: McKnight's Critique of McLaren
The Future of the Emergent Church: McLaren Weighs In
Repost | Occupy Wal-Mart?: So This is What the Kingdom of Heaven Looks Like
Repost | Pinata Theology: Ignore the Issue and Swing at the Distraction - What Piper Has Taught Us About the Church
Emergent Panentheism: The Direction Towards Process Theology Continues
Will the Two Become One?: Emergents Turn to Process Theology
God's Many Names?: Emergent Pluralism in the Extreme
Theology Thursday | Don't Be Fooled: The Conversation Is Not Open To Everyone
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