To see an insightful piece on “McLaren’s gospel” and how this emergent church stream differs from historic biblical Christianity, this post by Lee Irons is a must-read.
One quote that struck a chord with me in my observations of those who are influenced by McLaren:
McLaren goes on to describe the solution (p. 79):
Jesus’ Message: How did Jesus respond to the crisis?
Conventional View: Jesus says, in essence, “If you want to be among those specifically qualified to escape being forever punished for your sins in hell, you must repent of your individual sins and believe that my Father punished me on the cross so he won’t have to punish you in hell. Only if you believe this will you go to heaven when the earth is destroyed and everyone else is banished to hell.” This is the good news.
Emerging View: Jesus says, in essence, “I have been sent by God with this good news — that God loves humanity, even in its lostness and sin. God graciously invites everyone and anyone to turn from his or her current path and follow a new way. Trust me and become my disciple, and you will be transformed, and you will participate in the transformation of the world, which is possible, beginning right now.” This is the good news.
Again, distortion. McLaren’s crass characterization of the atonement hints that he agrees with some of the criticisms currently being leveled against penal substitutionary atonement — it sanctions violence, it pits the Father against the Son, it is cosmic child abuse, and/or it does not reflect God’s love. McLaren ignores the Trinitarian and Chalcedonian context of the atonement which orthodoxy has always maintained. The Father loves the Son, even when the Son is undergoing divine wrath for us, for the Father is most exalted and most pleased by his Son’s obedience unto death. Furthermore, the giving up of his Son to bear divine wrath in order to satisfy divine justice is an expression of the Father’s own love for sinners.
With regard to his own view, notice the inherent moralism of his gospel. One simply changes his or her current path and becomes a disciple of Jesus with the goal of trying to transform the world. In other words, repentance means switching from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, switching from being a gas-guzzling, capitalist consumer to a Prius-driving, recycling, African-orphan-adopting, war protestor.
The underlining emphasis of the last paragraph was added by me. Read the whole thing.
(HT: Between Two Worlds)