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Apr 02, 2008


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You rock bro, with your comments here!

Michael W. Kruse

Thanks Dan!

Dana Ames

Two things (yea, even three):
1) He may be overstating the "conventional" view somewhat, but it also may sound like overstatement because it's so stark. Most of the time, E'icals don't present it so starkly. It's the evangelical view that has had more currency in the US in the last 30-40 years, much more than the mainline, whose influence in this country's "popular" Christian expression has been negligible, or at least way, way "under the radar" in the same time.

2) The "conventional" view doesn't need a lot of tweaking to reflect the Roman Catholicism that I grew up with, even post Vatican II. Remove the "How can God help Christians to be happy and successful until heaven?" from the basic questions. (RC at least has a view of suffering that tries to make sense of its reality.) Add to Jesus' response "...and be enfolded into the Church He founded in its historic/apostolic expression". There you have it.

3) When you say "from your context", that is the truth. You've been a Mainliner for a long time, though I know you're not unaware of what has been going on in other arenas, and so of course you wouldn't see what's new about what Brian is talking about. But I'm telling you, Michael, to most E'icals it really is. I don't think Brian is right about everything. (Frankly, since I know what his basic thought is, I haven't read much of his writing for a couple of years, though his presentation at the pastors' conf last year was very, very good.) I think you've done a great job pointing out how his premise is dependent upon the way things are right now; the story about the projections about all the needs for maintaining horses disappearing with the advent of the automobile surely comes into play here :) I agree with you that we need to invest in developing technology (esp "green" tech) to help address the problems it can help with. Human creativity is a good thing, and technology in and of itself is neither good nor evil; it's simply a tool.

Brian's is certainly a widely heard voice, but it's not the only "Emergent" voice, and others are getting their books/articles/blogs out these days and demonstrating that. I'm reading TJones' "New Christians", and his voice is important. Don't agree with him that all our problems can be traced simply to the "institution" of church, but he brings up lots of germane stuff to think about (and he's a v. good writer). A large part of the current problem is that, for whatever reason, E'icals as a whole have just not thought about underlying theology, attitudes, etc. (Mainliners tend to think more, istm- whether or not they remain "orthodox", or whether or not that thought filters "down" to the average congregant.) There simply has not been robust, civil discussion on most fronts of the American religious scene about these or other important issues.

This quote from NT Wright's "Judas and the Gospel of Jesus" p126 seems to me to apply to Brian, thought Wright was talking about someone else: "He seems to me to overstate his case, as groundbreaking polemicists often do."

I really wish Brian would interact with you, here or elsewhere. Such interaction would be extremely valuable and beneficial for all who are trying to grapple with all of this, as both of you are committed to that robust, civil discussion.

Thanks again for putting all this out there in public so we can think and talk about it.


Dennis Sanders

Hello. My name is Dennis Sanders and I'm an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

I wanted to say that I really like your blog. I can really resonate with a lot of your insights. I grew up in both the black church and evangelical church. After college, I became disillusioned with the the rightward tilt of the evangelical circles I was running in and found a home in Mainline Protestantism. However, after a while I started to that in many liberal churches, I was finding the same narrowmindedness that I found among evangelicals. I am still a mainline Protestant because there is some good and it is still somewhat of a home to me because of the committment towards social justice. But I have a problem with those who seem to confuse God's call for justice with voting Democratic while calling themselves above politics. I tend not to fit in any boxes since I am openly gay, African American and tend to lean Republican in my voting. I believe in justice for the poor, but I don't there is anything in the Bible that says it has to be done with large government programs.

So, it's nice to know that I am not alone. Take care and I will defintely add you to my blogroll.

BTW, I am the communications guy for the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area.


Michael W. Kruse


Thanks for your insightful comments.

“…E'icals as a whole have just not thought about underlying theology…”

I posted Monday about the ESA conference I went to over the weekend. What you was Dr. Sider’s greatest concern. We need to be centered in a comprehensive narrative understanding of the story of scripture. The NAE document “For the Health of the Nation” is an attempt to jumpstart a discussion in that direction. My series of posts on the book http://krusekronicle.typepad.com/kruse_kronicle/2006/04/toward_an_evang_1.html”>Toward and Evangelical Public Policy, which is tied to that document, I think shows the depth at which some Evangelicals are working through these issues.

I appreciate that McLaren is not the spokesperson for emerging Christianity but his voice probably carries more popularizing weight with the American conversation than just about any other single individual. The book is representative of an ethos I see as pervasive (not universal) in those who identify with Emergent.

Love the Wright quote. While I tend to be an adaptive person, by temperament, I’ve never been very taken with idealism. With each passing year I find I’m getting more impatient, partly because I think it needlessly sets up people for later disillusionment. Maybe I’m just getting old. :)


Thanks for checking out the blog. Disciples, UCC, Presbyterians. A Reformed triple threat. :) I’ve often joked that he PCUSA Washington Office could just put a notice at their website concerning social policy that says “See Democratic National Committee platform unless otherwise notified.” They wouldn’t have anything else to do the rest of the year. :)

Seriously, thanks for your kind affirmation. I appreciate your testimony here.


The gospel I received thirty years ago was that Jesus (by his death, resurrection and acension) has sorted everything that sin stuffed up.

I do not know what the emerging movement is emerging from, but if Brian's description is accurate, I am very sad.

Viola Larson

I had some problems with this quote:
"Through his life and teaching, through his suffering, death, and resurrection, he inserted into human history a seed of grace, truth, and hope that can never be defeated. This seed will, against all opposition and odds, prevail over the evil and injustice of humanity and lead to the world’s ongoing transformation into the world God dreams of. All who find in Jesus God’s hope and truth discover the privilege of participating in his ongoing work of personal and global transformation and liberation form evil and injustice. As part of his transforming community, they experience liberation from the fear of death and condemnation."
Partly I think because it is so vague and a little like he's been reading Hegel. But inserted into history kind of knocks out the relationship with Jesus Christ. And a seed of grace, it just seems like that belittles the Gospel. And I did not grow up in the Presbyterian Church,(Instead christ grabbed me in the SBC) but I didn't find myself in his discription of Evangelicals either.

Michael W. Kruse


I would say that many streams of Christianity have been, and continue to be, preoccupied with the mechanics and experience of personal salvation to the near exclusion of the broader work of God in the world. We weren’t just saved from something. We were saved to someone, and to a community, to be transformed for a mission. Had McLaren merely said something like this, I’d be fine. To me the passage I quoted A) feels like a reductionistic caricature and B) aggrandizes the more highly evolved emerging Christians among us. :)


Don’t know if this qualifies as Hegelian because, like you, it is insufficiently clear what he means. McLaren may simply being playing on the mustard seed imagery. What he means in this book by Kingdom of God and how it unfolds is fuzzy to me. I’ll have more on this in one of the final posts.

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