Brian McLaren posted some words of wisdom today about the difficulty of graciously believing thoughts that diverge from the norm and purposefully bashing people over the head and looking for trouble. It has important implications for people who own their heresy (as defined by the orthodox many). I may comment more on this later today, but for now, I’ll let his ideas stand on their own.
Differing Without Dividing, Brian D. McLaren
EDIT – 9/8/2010 @ 12:30 p.m.:
McLaren’s recent book A New Kind of Christianity was excellent on many fronts, especially its 10-12 pages on “the way, the truth and the life,” as I have commented before. But in other areas, I was left asking questions and wanting more. The best example of this relates directly to his “Differing Without Dividing” blog entry posted yesterday; though it’s not very long, it does add to the chapter on how to apply and spread one’s uniquely new kind of Christianity. That chapter basically boiled down to… “Don’t tell people that won’t want to hear it because they won’t accept it anyway.”
Sure, McLaren said a lot more in the chapter, such as to “evangelize” by asking questions with which people could struggle (which provides a roundabout way for them to come back to you looking for guidance or at least your input). But after writing so many important things, the “What Do We Do Now” chapter was a big letdown.
For many people, accepting new thoughts takes time and maturity. The proper degree of maturity may not have occurred when we want it to, and even if it has, it can be hard to invest the kind of time necessary to foster thought that questions everything previously accepted as basic truth. In the end, McLaren is right: you must meet people where they are at, be patient and pick your battles.
Logically, then, the problem is where people are at. And that’s why I’m in seminary.