Friday, March 12, 2010

Answering McLaren's Ten Questions Before Reading the Book (a SynchroBlog)

Steve Hayes revived the SynchroBlog tradition I started a few years back by asking us to answer Brian McLaren's 10 questions before reading his newest book.  So here are my answers to the 10 questions.  Now I will have to read the book after this, but that is okay, because I highly respect Brian.  I respect him not because of his writings, but because I have met him and spent some time with him.  Lots of people can write good and provocative books.  But to be a good and provocative person is something more difficult to do methinks. Brian is a standup kinda guy.  If you want to buy the book follow the link with the pic of the book, and pay a little less on Amazon than at Border's or wherever you go, and you will help Pastor Phil (that's me) with his Amazon account as well.

Now, if you have not read the book and are planning on getting it I challenge you to this same exercise.  Answer the 10 questions below and let me know when you do so.  This is good Christianity to practice our proclamation, and put it into dialogue instead of monologue.

Well, here are my responses to Brian's 10 Questions:

1) What is the overarching story line of the Bible? - there is a dynamic relationship between God and man.  It has been in tension and fraught with difficulty since time immemorial, but God still pursues that relationship passionately.

2) How should the Bible be understood? - as a narrative of the above filled with history, poetry, parables, and visions documenting the sorrow and the joy of this tension.

3) Is God violent? - passionate love has a violence to it.  Not as the violence of this world as we experience it, but violence in its expression nonetheless.  Perhaps it is best to see God as transcending the issues of violence/non-violence, and simply call Him Peacemaker and Judge, Lover and Defender.

4) Who is Jesus and why is he important? - God, second part of the question answered by the first I think.

5) What is the Gospel? -The specific curative message of God's pursuit of us in love, which was worked out in the life, death, resurrection and continued facilitation of Jesus.

6) What do we do about the Church? - go and help it be a carrier of the curative message.

7) Can we find a way to address human sexuality without fighting about it? - uhm, yes?

8) Can we find a better way of viewing the future? - since I am not reformed in my theology, and do not hold to a predeterministic point of view I would have to be extremely biased here and say that if we can not view it as in formation, and being created by the actions of God and humanity then we are not viewing it as future at all, but as a concrete sidewalk.

9) How should followers of Jesus relate to people of other religions? - like they relate to Christians - with love.  Shouldn't the church be the place where we model how we relate to the world?

10) How can we translate our quest into action? - by putting one foot in front of the other, and asking God to help us do so.  A pinch of idealism sometimes helps.

Go ahead.  Answer these questions on your blog, and let me know where to find it so we can link up with you.

Here are my other friends Synching up too:

The Evening of Kent: Ten questions that might transform something.
The AnteChurch: Synchroblog: A new kind of Christian?
Beth Patterson : Lenten reflection 5: I’m probably way off base
A New Kind of Christianity: My Answers to Ten Questions: Ryan Peter Blogs and stuff
Steve Hayes answers Brian's 10 Questions
Kieran the Celtic Rover answers Brian's Questions too


Beth P. said...

Hi Phil!

Great answers to some seemingly insipid questions...can you add my post to your line up of synchroblogged stuff? Thanks!

Beth Patterson : Lenten reflection 5: I’m probably way off base

Pastor Phil said...

I've got you on there Beth. Thanks. I found your posting to be quite engaging.

Kieran Conroy said...

Nice Phil! I'd be happy to include one too -- been wanting to formally join your Synch circle forever. Though I admit I have started the book, does that count as cheating? :)

Pastor Phil said...

You haven't finished the book, and I am sure that you have some of your own unique renderings on the questions - so go for it Keiran.

Kieran Conroy said...

Thanks Phil. Here ya go, all 10 pages or so. :)

Hey, its still shorter than McLarens!

Love to be added to your ongoing list so I know in the future, if you don't mind. Should have more time after graduatoin for bloggery!

Ryan Peter said...

A touch of idealism? Interesting to hear you say that. I've found idealism gets me into a lot of trouble sometimes...

Great answers, I must say!

Pastor Phil said...

Hi Ryan Peter,

I think idealism got Jesus in trouble too. :-)

Unknown said...

Hi Phil:

Q2: Whose narrative? Some say mans narrative others say Gods inspiration
I see the Bible as a tense book that demands tough questions be answered in our lives and faith.

Q3: Critics might ask you if God was showing love to Sodom and Gomorrah.
My thought: True God has done some harsh things. how can we ask God to love us and than expect him to not expect anything in return? We want people who love us to be committed to us why wouldn't God want the same

Q7: Uhm No. should could but no. Too many diverse opinion. The problem is the attempt at redefinition of sexuality rather than seeking the truth about it.

BTW: Phil: my email:

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Bruce W (there is another Bruce here),

on Q2: man's? God's? yes? no. I was speaking of the marrative as I outlined in Q1. - there is a dynamic relationship between God and man. It has been in tension and fraught with difficulty since time immemorial, but God still pursues that relationship passionately.

on Q3 - that is why I replied "Perhaps it is best to see God as transcending the issues of violence/non-violence"

on Q7 - I was answering for a local "we" as in me and those I can influence in the same methodologies.

sent you an email - did you get it?

Kieran Conroy said...

*Pokes* Still hoping to be Synched in too with mine. :)

Pastor Phil said...

You are listed on the links Kieran. You're synched for this one.

Kieran Conroy said...

Awesome. Diolch, Phil. :)