Being Biblical and Emergent

Brian McLaren entitles one of his chapters in Generous Orthodoxy: "Why I Am Biblical." It's not surprising given the evangelical context within which he is "emerging." As I read this chapter, I found someone seeking to remain reverent while at the same time seeking to learn from critical scholarship. His embrace of critical scholarship doesn't keep him from assuming that Paul wrote the Pastoral Epistles. His is a very cautious understanding. But I understand where he's coming from. He wants to be true to Scripture without becoming a biblicist. He's open to things like evolution, the equality of women, and I think on homosexuality (but here I may be reading more into what he says than is there). McLaren isn't Marcus Borg, but he's also not J.I. Packer. He likes Walter Brueggeman and N.T. Wright.

His is a practical understanding of Scripture -- it's useful for equipping God's people -- rather than dogmatic. Remember also that he has affirmed a non-foundationalist/post-modern world view. Thus, one must read Scripture as narrative and not in propositional fashion. There's nothing especially new here nor is it all that radical -- even for evangelicals.

Thus, the key point of the chapter is that he wants to remain within the fold! But he wants to read Scripture in a way that is inclusive rather than exclusive.

Although I've moved farther beyond McLaren in my journey with Scripture, I find much to connect with. Karl Barth was the key to my own journey. Once I could place the Bible under Jesus (in terms of Word of God) I could breath easier and not get so uptight about every jot and title.

But what does it mean to be Biblical. I get that question as a pastor, is yours a biblical church? I want to answer yes, but I keep wondering what they mean by that adjective. Do I believe in inerrancy? No. Do I believe in recent creation? No. Do I believe . . . I like Borg's phrase about taking the Bible seriously without taking it literally, except I don't go as far as Borg in seeing the Bible as metaphor. I guess my evangelical roots keep me believing that there are parts that are historical and merely metaphor. So, I guess I'm somewhere in between Tom Wright and Marcus Borg. All of which is day to day.

So, are you biblical?


danutz said…
Good post! I really found Brian Mclaren to be helpful in my journey because I also emerged from an Evangelical background. He doesn’t provide many answers, but he did provide the questions that I needed to ask.

I ended up (not that I've found a final position) somewhere pretty close to Marcus Borg's position. Being "biblical" certainly doesn't mean being a literalist. The less literal I take scripture the more valuable it has become for me.

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