>Brian McLaren: A Generous Orthodoxy and the Old Testament

>Brian McLaren is a very popular writer among evangelical Christians, especially among postmodern evangelicals who work in the emergent church movement and call themselves missional Christian leaders.

His new book, A Generous Orthodoxy (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004) has received wide acceptance in the evangelical community and is, in a sense, a document addressed to the emerging church movement.

Levi Felton at The Word has a good review of McLaren’s book. Felton calls A Generous Orthodoxy, “A Generous Orthodoxy’s Lesson on Intellectual Dishonesty.”

Felton offers a list of twenty-six intellectually dishonest arguments in Brian McLaren’s book. Felton wrote:

The list of intellectually dishonest arguments that you will find here is not complete and in no particular order. There are plenty more being used all over the world even as you are reading this very sentence. I have two goals to accomplish with this paper. The first is to discredit Brian McLaren’s book a Generous Orthodoxy. The second is to encourage others to learn the dishonest tactics of debate. When you learn these tactics and get yourself very acquainted with them, you’ll find that people use them more than you could have ever imagined and it will make you a better debater. Also, you will catch yourself from formulating your own arguments in dishonest ways and save yourself some embarrassment from getting caught.

I was interested in Felton’s seventh argument, the argument from adverse consequence. Felton wrote:

7. Argument from Adverse Consequences (Appeal to Fear, Scare Tactics)

McLaren contends that the Old Testament is simply not God’s word to people in our time. It, instead, was “God’s word to people back then.” He recounts many examples of violent acts and states that they mis-read the Old Testament. He commends a few well-known peaceful people saying that they have it right. In the end, he contends that there is nothing to learn from the Old Testament except what not to do. This compounds McLaren’s belief that works are what it means to follow Jesus. (This point is solidified by Gandhi being used as an example of someone who followed the way of Christ) The reader is left with a feeling that any belief that the Bible is God’s word to our generation can and will eventually lead to ethnic cleansing being justified. (pg 189)

Visit Levi Felton’s blog and read the other twenty-five arguments.

Christians who reject the Old Testament as irrelevant commit the same error the followers of Marcion committed centuries ago. One thing many Christiana do not understand is that if the church today possesses the Old Testament in their Bible is because the leaders of the early church considered the Old Testament so important they decided to preserve it. Since the Old Testament (or the Hebrew Bible) is the Bible of Judaism and it is included in the Christian Bible, Christians today must take the Old Testament very seriously.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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