Sunday, January 08, 2006

Brian Mclaren Interview Part I

Overall, a great interview! Thank you Brian. I hope the rest of you enjoy the show and leave some feedback here or call in using the toll free Gcast number below.

Edit: I suggest that those of you who are limited on time, or who want to jump into the best of the interview --skip this first one and listen to #2.

In this show we talk about:
  • Criticism Brian has received since writing A Generous Orthodoxy and The Last Word... and how to respond 'in purple' fashion.
  • What to make of the violent imagery Jesus occasionally makes use of in the NT (ie Mt 24:51)
  • The importance of having an hermeneutic of love
  • Fear and the toxic doctrine of hell
  • If hell is true, is the meaning of the cross false advertising?

On your right is the new listener feedback player, and the RSS feed as well.

Some of you may also be interested in the paper I wrote and shared with Brian. Its written as a dialogue between four different positions on topics ranging from divine justice, the nature of scripture, and the meaning of hell. As many of you know, this project was foundational to my coming to the conclusion of truly good news, of the hope of the universal reconciliation of all to God.

Authors & Books mentioned:

Other Notes:

Technical notes:


Me Ra Koh said...

Hey Leif,
I just got done listening to the first half of your interview with Brian Mclaren. I actually listened to it a second time when I was done b/c there was so much good stuff in it.

I appreciated the discussion bit about the death timeline, and I often wonder what my faith would look and feel like if I didn't feel this struggle with whether or not there is a death timeline to figure all this God stuff out.

But I have to say that I can't wait for you to release the second half! It seemed like you were both really getting into a groove toward the end, and I want to hear more on what Brian thinks when he says the cross can almost be a distraction or false advertising. He was just starting to hit on it, and the time was up.

Was that planned so we'd come back for more? ;) It worked for me.

Great job!

Me Ra

Leifh said...

Hi Me Ra,

Glad you liked it! (;

Yes, I was being a bit of a tease, and I will try and get the 2nd part out in the next few days.

Thanks for admitting the "death time line" stress feelings --I think many more people feel it than would like to admit.

Imagine how life would be if we lived with the sense that, yes there are consequences to our resisting growing in love, but that we had all of eternity to grow?

I think we'd be ale to relax into God's grace embrace a little easier.


Alban said...

Thank you for this interview. You both talked about God having no part of darkness in Him. Would that not be the only reasonable idea of God one could have?

If that is true then His Son could have no part of darkness in himself either and His Son would be everyone created by Him since He could not create anything less perfect than a perfect being of light.

That leaves me with my necessity to see myself as whole and perfect as God created me. To the extent I am denying this I experience separation or hell which is an absolute impossibility and yet very obviously what this world is.

That gives me the idea that I must be dreaming since this world can obviously not come from a perfect and whole God, and also because I have no capacity to change Reality. Yet there can be no reality outside God. So I must be the cause of this world and must therefore be Saviour of it, like Jesus demonstrated about the power of my mind. And we and everyone have the power and will to remember God in the awakening from this dream of death, because no one can really be separate from God.

I liked the idea of McLarens attempt to see the New Testament more in the context of the historical situation in which Jesus taught, and therefore to see the hell-fire concepts as an expression of a fear and guilt based mind set. However I feel it is necessary to never forget that this world as a condition of separation can only be devastating, no matter how tempting and promising it might look like for a moment.

Jesus taught the very fundamental idea of wholeness and how a mind in its idea of this little world can, will and has come back to the realization of its own wholeness through the action of forgiveness.

Do you know of A Course In Miracles? You might be interested in it. Here is a link...

God bless us,

Alban said...

Thank you for this interview. You both talked about God having no part of darkness in Him. Would that not be the only reasonable idea of God one could have?

If that is true then His Son could have no part of darkness in himself either and His Son would be everyone created by Him since He could not create anything less perfect than a perfect being of light.

That leaves me with my necessity to see myself as whole and perfect as God created me. To the extent I am denying this I experience separation or hell which is an absolute impossibility and yet very obviously what this world is.

That gives me the idea that I must be dreaming since this world can obviously not come from a perfect and whole God, and also because I have no capacity to change Reality. Yet there can be no reality outside God. So I must be the cause of this world and must therefore be Saviour of it, like Jesus demonstrated about the power of my mind. And we and everyone have the power and will to remember God in the awakening from this dream of death, because no one can really be separate from God.

I liked the idea of McLarens attempt to see the New Testament more in the context of the historical situation in which Jesus taught, and therefore to see the hell-fire concepts as an expression of a fear and guilt based mind set. However I feel it is necessary to never forget that this world as a condition of separation can only be devastating, no matter how tempting and promising it might look like for a moment.

Jesus taught the very fundamental idea of wholeness and how a mind in its idea of this little world can, will and has come back to the realization of its own wholeness through the action of forgiveness.

Do you know of A Course In Miracles? You might be interested in it. Here is a link...

God bless us,

Leifh said...

Hello Alban,

Welcome to the show.

I'm not sure I totally understand your flow of logic, but let me try.

I think your logic breaks down for me in the third paragraph...God may create 'perfect' beings...but because I believe you and I are free, we can use our freedom to be selfish, to sin, to bring in darkness. That is what brings about a work like we have.

There were a few comments like that you have "no capacity to change reality" that didn't quite make sense to me. Are you not changing reality with each letter you type?

I'm not sure, but I'm wondering possibly if english is a 2nd language for you? Yes? I think there are a few parts of your comment that might just be confusings because of this. If not, I apologize and will just try and understand you better.

As for seperation and our need to forgive and accept forgiveness being a part of what hinders our sense of wholeness -I totally agree. True forgiveness acknowledges real choices that were made, though complex, and accepts response-ability for 'darkness' made.

In peace,

T. Basselin said...

Just listened to the interview and it was great - can't wait for the second part.

After listening I turned to my studies, which happened to be Bonhoeffer's Ethics. The second chapter of the book is entitled "The Church and the World." The second section in that chapter is "The Total and Exclusive Claim of Christ" in which Bonhoeffer reconciles the seemingly contradictory statements of Jesus in Mark 9.40 "He that is not against us is for us" and in Mt. 12.30 "He that is not with me is against me." He says that when the church is under attack (either as persecution in the early church or culturally under attack resulting in nominal christianity) then exclusiveness is necessary for survival, thus "he who is not for me is against me." However, when the world itself is under attack (as it was when Bonhoeffer wrote "Ethics" in Nazi Germany) then "It is with the Christ who is persecuted and who suffers in His Chruch that justice, truth, humanity and freedom now seek refuge; it is with the Christ who found no shelter in the world, the Chrst who was cast out from the world, the Crhist of the crib and of the cross, under whose protection they now seek sanctuary." Thus "he who is not against us is for us."

"These two sayings necessarily belong together as the two claims of Jesus Christ, the claim to exclusiveness and the claim to totality. The greater the exclusiveness, the greater the freedom. But in isolation the claim to exclusiveness leads to fanaticism and to slavery; and in isolation the claim to totality leads to the secularization and self-abandonment of the Church. The more exclusively we acknowledge and confess Christ as our Lord, the more fully the wide range of His dominion will be disclosed to us."

I thought this relevant to your conversation with Brian, but also a description (sort of) of your purple theme.

Benjy Oliver said...

Wow, I was blown away. I just happenned to come across your site after visiting Brian's site for the first time in a really long while. Anyway, saw the link on his page and thought that I would check it out! I have listened 3 times I think in the past 12 hours, and also left a voice comment on your gcast line.

My only disappointment was that it was cut off. I was really digging the conversation, which seemed like it only last 5 minutes. Great work. looking forward to part 2, which I hope is longer!

BTW, the # for gcast is wrong. You have 54-2287 but the last 4 digits should be 2278. See ya!

Leifh said...

Hi Ben,

Glad you enjoyed it! (;
Congratulations on being the first real caller in to the listernet feedback --I wish I had a free T-shirt to send you or something (; Maybe in a year or two.

Don't blink --because the second part is now up. I wish it were longer too! We'll do another interview later I'm sure --but spread the word to those who you think would benefit from the show.

And thanks for the heads up on the wrong number --I've now changed it.

Leifh said...

Hey T,

Thanks for the Bonhoffer quote --excellent choice. There is so much to address in this quote, and the topics/questions in brings up, that I don't think I'll be able to do it here. I'm pretty sure I'll need to do a whole seperate cast on that subject. As for now, check out the link on the 2nd show's notes to a paper I wrote having to do with the question of pluralism/inclusvism/Christian exclusvism. THough it was actually a rushed exam paper, it has some pretty interesting ideas (I think) and is quite relevant to that quote.


Steffen said...

Hey Leif,

Very interesting stuff! Thanks for the interview with Brian McLaren. I'm looking forward to meet him when he comes to Denmark in May.

I have just begun entering the question of hell myself and I'll definately get back to your paper once my exams are finished.

Btw your name sounds either norwegian or danish, do you have nordic ancestors?

God bless
Steffen - Copenhagen

Alban said...

Hi Leif,

you were right, English is my second language. I meant that I cannot change the Reality created by God, since it is eternal and His Will. To change it would mean that my will is stronger than His. I can only create in the likeness of my own creation as God creates in His likeness. That means that I extend God's love and light, because that is what I am in His Will.

I was saying that the world you see with your body's eyes has nothing to do with reality, that it is of your own making and does not exist. Jesus resurrected and demonstrated that this world can have no effect on what you really are. That is because it is a dream, a vast illusion based on the false idea of separation.

But most important for me is, since I find myself in this condition, that I have a tool to change my mind about myself and the world and thereby experience miracles and a real shift in perception that shows me that this seeming reality is not reality but my dream and that I am not bound by it. I am doing it to myself. I confused my Identity in God with a body and really thought that I could sin and die.

Through A Course In Miracles I have a mind-training that allows me to continuously turn my life and my will over to the care of God by letting go of my mistaken ideas and experience the healing of my mind.

In regard to the breakdown of my argument, it should mean only that I as a human being do not see myself truly, as God created me. Yet only what God willed is real. So I declared my necessity to be corrected. Obviously I am in a condition which denies my perfection and invulnerability. Yet if perfection and invulnerability or happiness is God's Will for me, I must be denying God's Will in the first place to even be in the condition in which I am in this world. On the other hand, if happiness would not be what God gives me, who would He be? Could it be false that God gives me happiness?

Here is what it says in lesson 66 from the Course: "This could be false, of course, but in order to be false it is necessary to define God as something He is not. Love cannot give evil, and what is not happiness is evil. God cannot give what He does not have, and He cannot have what He is not. Unless God gives you only happiness, He must be evil. And it is this definition of Him you are believing if you do not accept the first premise."

Leifh said...

Hi Steffan,

Yes, I am 50% danish on my father's side. My father moved with his parents to Chicago from copenhagen. I know little about my background though,but would love to travel to Denmark some day. My grandfather, Ejnar Hansen, was apparently a fairly famous artist -and his fame spread in california as they eventually moved there. Here's a link I just found about him here

Alban, I'm afraid I'm still having a bit of a difficult time following your logic. I'm sorry --perhaps you could write me at if you'd like to discuss this further.
In general, I'd agree that what we see/experience is only a small slice of reality --yet I don't think its an 'illusion' --unless we think it is the totality of reality, then we need to be 'disillusioned'. (;

And again, my point on free will is how I think evil/unhappiness happens. But thanks to grace, even these sufferings grow into beauty.


Olsen said...

You said "What the hell, Jesus?" Was that necessary?

Leifh said...

Olsen, I assume you're saying this because it offended you in some way? If so, sorry about that. I guess the Jesus I've come to know --who was quite familiar with various modes of speech --would catch the drift of my meaning.

Jake T said...

wow. great interview (I've got about half of part 2 to listen to, still). Thanks for doing this, man--this is the kind of stuff I need right now....

Leifh said...

Hey Jake,

Glad you liked it and are relating to it. I think I remember you from a blog somewhere...?...or was it a bream? (;

Joy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joy said...


I actually laughed (LOL) when you said, "what the hell...". I am a recovering "victorian prude"... and find it strange that Jesus sought out fishermen... I am sure these salty dogs used colorful language!

But, I could not download the paper you linked... your paper. Merde!!

Thanks again for the freshness!

Leifh said...

Hello Handmaiden of the Lord,
(Wow, what a nym)

I checked the link --and it works fine. If you don't have MS Word, that could be the problem. If so, then you could download the RTF version. Thanks for the feedback and for your interest.


Anonymous said...

Just listened to your interview with Brian M. Interesting that you feel comfortable using language that even our secular society sees as offensive. I have serious issues with your theological positions but it is hard to even take you serious when you sound like Howard Stern. Trust you find truth in your wandering!

Leifh said...

(Hmmm, whats better, to ignore, sympathize, or challenge this comment? I'm in somewhat of a provocative mood, so...on with the sarcasm)

Boy, I'll bet you sure would have had a hard time with the kind of people Jesus hung around and the language they used. In addition, I don't believe Jesus categorize God's children into the 'secular' and 'sacred' -and hyperbolic categorization had to do with the religiously self-righteous.

What was it I said? I think it was "shit". Oh my. I like to throw out little shockers like that sometimes just to keep myself and others in check to not become too self-righteous and focued on the "outside of the cup". BTW, if you translated a number of greek words used by Jesus and Paul into our contemporary language they would basically come out the same.

I'll put up with your crap, and forgive your sin, can you do the same?


Anonymous said...

Certainly Jesus hung out with sinners (of whom Paul said he was chief), tax collectors, adulterers, prostitutes, etc. If you are still dead in your sin and have not been made alive unto Christ then I understand your language!

I must have misunderstood, I thought you were a Christ follower. I thought you were released from the bondage of sin. I thought you were being sanctified.

Please do not take my comments has sarcasm. That is not what is intended. I have many friends who are without Christ. Created by Him, yet still have not trusted in Him as Saviour. For those friends, I tolerate behaviour that is inconsistant with a changed heart. My understanding is that I should look different, an alien, a stranger!

Your language is offensive to many who do not claim to know Christ. That was why I was shocked. Please forgive my sensitivity to your words.

Leifh said...

Oh, I soooo know I should ignore this, or answer in a different spirit, but...

So, you're telling me that
a)You think saying the word "shit" is a sin?
b)And even if yes, that a person following Christ no longer sins?

I just don't believe that saying the word "shit" is innately a sin --though I imagine it could be depending on how and why its said. Is it being done to hurt another, or as expression of certain feelings,etc?
Nor do I believe that a person following Christ stops sinning. I'd hope things would improve in the sin department, but I've yet to meet someone who is perfectly humble, loving, non-judgmental, serving those in need, and fulfilling the overall ethics of Matthew 5ff.

Paying attention to the word "shit" out of this entire interview is, well, silly. End of public conversation. Please email me at if you really feel you need to go into this further.

(BTW, if there is sin right now in me, and I believe there is, it is the impatience and judgment I'm feeling towards people like yourself making comments such as this, when there are so many more important things to be learned and for those trying to follow Christ to be doing. That judgment is mixed with what I believe is righteous anger, but God will work with me on the other part)

Anonymous said...

2.NO, if you understand sanctification you know that I certainly understand that a Christian still sins but he should be sinning less.

You don't even want to know what I think about Mclaren's heresy. If you do, let's talk on the phone. I would love the opportunity.

Leifh said...

I hear you believe that BM and my opinions are not true. But please, for your own sake, don't make judgments like "heresy". Besides lacking in humility, it fails to acknowledge that Jesus was less concerned about people 'getting the right beliefs', than in right action, in how loving we are towards others. I'm sorry if I've provoked you, but I long for american churchianity to finally start eating humble pie and learning a deeper lesson in love.

Yes, please feel free to call me via Skype or Gizmo Project (bleedingpurple), but with the tone of this previous dialogue, I hesitate to give my personal phone number. You can download either application from the self-named website --its free and you can then make internet calls anywhere in the world.
Find me with the name 'bleedingpurple'


JMM said...

Hi, could you tell me how you differ theologically from liberalism?

Leifh said...

Hi JMM (are you also Anonymous from the past posts?),

I guess in order to tell you how I'm different, I'd need to know what you mean by liberalism. Then, perhaps, I can answer your question.

(Warning though, I'm not really into any 'isms'. People are too complex, they are living stories, each different.)

JMM said...

Nah, im not Anonymous, and I have never posted on your blog before. Not really sure why you are taking a hostile tone, I was just asking where you stand theologically. I guess this is more about being open with people about where you stand on issues traditionally considered to be "core" tests of orthodoxy (Trinity, Divinity of Christ, inerrancy of Scripture, bodily resurrection, salvation by faith alone, salvation by Christ alone, etc...). If you are looking for a technical definition of liberalism, any theology book should cover it. I personally am not really into defining terms that are commonly understood. Dont take my comments as hostile, they certainly are not. I know that in the "blogosphere" people tend to read with a chip on their shoulder, so please give me the benefit of the doubt. I know that most Emergent guys tend to see themselves as evangelicals, but based on the interviews it seems that you have little to do with the doctrines historically held by evangelicals (in the tradition of Spurgeon), and more in common with theological liberalism (in the tradition of Schleiermacher).

Leifh said...

Strange, I didn't think my post was hostile --but in the context of the previous few posts, I can see how you could read that into it.

I genuinely wanted to know what you meant by liberalism...I don't agree that the term is "commonly understood" --I think rather that if you asked a sample from the 35,000 christian denominations to define the term you'd get quite a variance. My hunch is that part of the reason there are so many misunderstandings between people is because of our assumptions about terms and doctrines, and that connecting on a more relational / story-giving basis would be a much better route.

As for 'evangelical':
I don't use the term as a noun of myself (I'm not *an* evangelical), as I think its one more way of self-righteousness or exclusivism creeping in (i.e. Here's the circle: I'm in, you're out.) But I am 'evangelical', as an adjective, in that I passionately share what I beleive is true and good and beautiful whenever I can.

I'm tempted to give you what I think you are asking for (based on your examples of "core tests of orthodoxy"), but I'd rather have a conversation. My theological arm is sore right now from the kind of ping pong games I end up getting into when trying to go the other route.


JMM said...

Perhaps we should back up slightly then. One thing I have noticed is that you appear to define assertion of moral absolutes as being “self-righteous” and that it shows a lack of humility. There are two problems that I can see with this. The first is that you make similar statements on a regular basis. Much of your interview contained references to what one should and should not believe about Hell.
The second problem appears to be your view of humility. Being a Christian (yes it is a label and it does exclude many people), I try to define my terms based out of the Scriptures. For this reason, I do not think it is self-righteous to say some things are clearly right (sacrificial love)and clearly wrong (homosexuality for example is wrong, as is deceit) because Jesus made such absolute statements. To do otherwise is not to stop being humble, but it is to stop trusting God as the source of Truth. Would you disagree (remember, if you do, then you are making a moral assertion that according to your apparent definition would be “self-righteous”)?
BTW, if you do disagree with me, please do not use labels such as intolerant, or arrogant, or self-righteous. I have been very careful not to use any terms that might be construed as derogatory toward you, and would appreciate you doing the same to me!

JMM said...

I must say that I am actually a bit curious as to why you have taken so long to respond to my post. It seems that you responded to most, if not all, the other posts within 24 hours. This indicates to me 3 possibilities: 1) you are too busy at this point in your life to respond 2) you are still thinking about how to respond 3) you have chosen not to respond. Perhaps there are others, but this seems most evident. My sincere hope is that it is either the first or second. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and make that assumption. However, if it is the third, then I am really puzzled about all the language concerning having a "conversation". You (and Brian) speak of having a "conversation" with the world, and also those whom we might disagree with. However, (again, if you have chosen the third) you seem to want that conversation to be very one-sided when your beliefs are challenged. If this is indeed the case, then you really should give up the language of conversation because it is very deceptive. Though, as I said before, I hope this is not the case, and will expect your reply!

Leifh said...

Hello JMM,

Yes, it has been both #1 (primarily) and #2. You'll notice there has not been a single post or podcast in two weeks. Nothing personal.

I'll respond in brief, because I think this conversation would be more appropriate via email.

On self-righteousness. Yes, I do state things I think are right and wrong, true and false. Though I tend to be much less dogmatic than I used to be, as I've learned things are much more complex, rich, nuanced, paradoxical, etc than I once believed. My label of self-righteousness, which I do need to be more careful of using, had to do with exclusivism --when one person or a group not only says what they believe is true, but that they are 'saved' (often because of those right beliefs) and others are damned for eternity. This, in my opinion, is self-righteous and parallels Jesus' parable about the pharisee and the 'sinner'. IE, When we think we are right/righteouss (in the 'saved' or 'in' sense) we are less likely to be so.

I think the above should answer your second point as well, on humility. It is not holding beliefs as true or false, but *how tightly* we hold them and how *self-right-ingly* we hold them.
Hope that helps.

JMM said...

Thank you for your response.
In the spirit of the ongoing conversation that you speak of, I think it would be only proper to continue it openly on this blog where others can read and have input.

Concerning your description of self righteousness and humility, I am still unclear. It seems that you do not like the way certain groups hold strongly to their doctrines, and so they are labeled self-righteous, pharisaical, prideful, etc... However, you seem to hold very strongly to you definition of self-righteousness and humility. This despite your redefinition of the terms being in conflict with Biblical definitions and those held over almost 2000 years of church history. When one considers this, it seems that it would take quite a bit of hubris indeed to contradict the things the overwhelming majority of Christians have held dear up to this very day. I am not saying the lack of historical support for your argument invalidates it. But I am saying that if you are going to suggest such a coup of theology, then you are going to need a great deal more than personal experience and the fever of the age.
Moreover, my concern is that your assertions do not appear to hold up to their own criticism.

Leifh said...

JMM, I will try and clarify one last time, however you seem to be unable thus far to hear the heart of my point:

1)It is not so much the strength to which doctrines are held, it is the additional belief and implicit threat that "our beliefs make us right and save"', and "yours make you wrong / damned for eternity". This is the not-so-humble spirit of self-righteousness I am referring to and that you seem to be avoiding (and substituting with straw-men arguments.) Simply put: If one believes their belief or effort makes them acceptable/right with God then those are the beliefs I would call "self-righteous". Make sense? (On a side note, it is this line of logic, also found in Eph 2:8-9, that led me to see that it is fully God's grace that saves us and that modern day churchianity has replaced this with orthodoxy saving us)

2) As to the 'historical majority' point: Would you say that about slavery, women's rights, and many other social issues or theological doctrines that have been variously supported or rejected using sriptures? Was it pride that stood up to those using scriptures to support these oppresive / toxic ideas? And, until you clarify which specific doctrines 'lack support' how can I say whether or not I agree with you on this?

3)I imagine you will likely misconstrue the motives and meaning for what I am about to say, as you have done so on almost every point so far, but it is my decision to do this and you'll have to make of it what you will. This is a comments section of a blog, not 'forum'. So I disagree with you about the public nature of this conversation. I have no problem with you having the 'last word', so please feel free to post one final comment if you need to. And, unless there is some major problem with that final post, our conversation in this comment section will end here. I will most likely choose to delete any further comments from this blog. If you would like to start a thread in another forum, or to email me directly, I will continue the conversation as I am able. In addition, I will be happy to point others who might be following this 'conversation' to that thread if it starts.


JMM said...


I would first like to point out that I have been nothing but kind and gentle in my comments to you despite the doctrines you are supporting in your podcast (questioning the Deity of Christ, etc...). Given that, what you are claiming to advance as your viewpoint (hermeneutic of love, etc...) does not match up with the way you seem to respond to posts (a somewhat demeaning tone).
I also do not understand your desire to take this conversation "underground" as I thought one of the major things Brian McLaren is supporting is conversations with those whom we disagree in a public way like this. I hope it is not because you strongly disagree with what I am saying that you have this desire to "hide" it. Such a desire would be the height of hypocrisy. Again, I am not saying you have such a desire, but it could easily appear that way. Let me be clear, at no point have I judged your motivations. I have always been careful to explain how things appear without rendering judgment.
Concerning point 1)You appear to have shifted your position from your comment on the 16th at the bottom that "It is not holding beliefs as true or false, but *how tightly* we hold them and how *self-right-ingly* we hold them." However, either position is not valid Biblically since Jesus clearly spoke of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31-46 (the sheep clearly "in" and the goats clearly "out). Also check out 2 Cor 10:5 (Paul advocates destroying other people's opinions) Our beliefs are evidenced by our works. Also consider John 3:16-21. Jesus was very exclusive when he said "I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me" (John 14:6). If you want to claim that these texts were later additions you really need to find some definitive manuscript evidence to support your opinion. Otherwise you are treading on dangerous ground by sitting in judgment of God's Word.
Concerning point 2) Leif, this is probably why you find people who disagree with you often hostile. I expect they genuinely try to enter into conversations with you and become frustrated because instead of answering their questions, you draw them into semantic debates (debates over words). You seem to be intelligent, and I believe that you probably have a good idea of what a person is trying to say even if you do not have a textbook definition. Please do not be seduced by the errors of the postmodern movement. Words have real meaning. The meaning may not have mathematical precision, but that is part of its beauty, it is not restricted to a narrow definition and can be used accurately in a variety of contexts. This keeps the necessity of learning vast amounts of vocabulary to carry on a simple conversation to a minimum. Finally, words have real meaning because they have correspondence in the mind of God. This does not mean that their meaning is static, as it can change over time, but it is He who holds all things together (Col 1:17 – also notice that Jesus is clearly described as God in this passage) including our words. The alternative is to be communicatively frozen because nobody has any confidence in understand what another is saying.
Furthermore, I believe the issue here is that you have brought a philosophical presupposition into your Bible reading (postmodernism). Both you and McLaren seem to have certain verses that you use because they support your position, but are forced to sweep a great deal of the content of the Bible (especially the Old Testament) under the proverbial rug or reinterpret them to fit your structure. Let me warn you (in accordance with the Scriptures) of the absolute danger of what you are doing. God does not have a generous orthodoxy and does not take kindly to those who claim to speak for him and yet mislead his people (See the examples of the false prophets throughout the Old Testament, and the book of Jude in the New Testament). You simply have no right to define your terms contrary to Biblical standards. Your definitions of self-righteousness and humility make the Jesus portrayed in the Gospels to be arrogant and self righteous. Now you may or may not believe this, but if you do, I think you should be honest and open about where you stand.
Leif, I do not say these things to stir up your wrath. I am genuinely concerned about your soul. If you hold to the doctrines that you appear to hold to on the interview (specifically rejecting the divinity of Christ (John 1) and his real resurrection from the dead (1 Cor 15:12-28)) then you are still dead in your sins and destined for suffering the wrath of God for all eternity (notice how Brian was careful to sidestep agreement with you in this area - he could no longer claim real Christianity). There is a solution however! Reorient yourself from sin toward God and pour your trust into Jesus Christ as your Savior. The Bible clearly describes Jesus as God and part of the Trinity. He really died on the cross for sin and rose again (both bodily and spiritually) on the third day. He offers his free gift of salvation to all who will embrace Him.
Please understand, I do not mean that as a jab, I am really disturbed by what you seem to be saying. You should really sit down and consider if you are truly in the faith (2 Cor 13:5 and Matt 7:21-23). Those who follow your teaching are in the same danger (Matthew 23:15). Please do not jump into a fit of rage for what I am saying. Instead, I hope you will calmly examine the passages I speak of and see if what I am saying is accurate to the text of Scripture. After all, we cannot discern Truth based on the current philosophies of our day as they are ever changing. Instead we must hold dear to the Rock (Jesus Christ) and build our faith firmly on His Word (Matt 7:24-29).
I know earlier you said you were very busy, are there any specific things I can pray for you about?

Serving the Living God,

Dr. C said...

You made a valuable point when you mentioned Ephesians 2:8,9. It is not our beliefs that save us, but rather the faith that God freely gives. Remember James 2:19, "even the demons believe - and shudder!" While there may be a large percent of folks who call themselves evangelical out there who think (falsely) that their right beliefs save them, this certainly doesn't apply to most of us, among whom I would include JMM. There is a fine distinction between saving faith and human belief, but how are we to learn this without the use of reason and study to gain knowledge of the foundational truths of scripture and the abundant supporting evidence for such classical doctrines as Christ's deity, the reality of His Resurrection, and yes, even the doctrine of Hell? (1 Tim. 2:3,4; Philippians 1:9; Romans 15:14)

Thank you for such an engaging and informative interview.

Dr. C

Leifh said...

(JMM, see point #3 above and reread please. If you'd like to supply an email or alternative thread, I will consider corresponding.)

Hello Dr. C,

Thanks for stopping by and for your thoughts on the Eph 2:8-9 point. Its a tricky question, and that verse seems to me to be saying that it is "*by grace* that you have been saved, *through* faith" --so it is actually not "saving faith". I think faith or trust is what enables us to experience the grace that is saving us --for some that happens quickly in some areas, others slowly, etc. I believe the search for truth is important, but not that believing correct doctrines has any effect on our salvation. I can't think of anywhere where Jesus supported that idea. Can you? (Honestly, I'm curious --I might be forgetting something).

Glad you liked the interview,

In peace,

Anonymous said...

Sincere faith doesn't save anyone. Sincere faith that Jesus, who was God, perfect and died for our sins is what saves us. When the end comes God isn't going to allow sincere muslims or atheists into heaven. Only those that had a sincere faith in the proper God will be saved. If you disagree Leif show me in scripture where I am wrong. That is one thing I didn't here in the podcast with Brian. That is, scripture being used to support what sounded to me as human ideas that make people feel good.

Act 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

bl_nd m_c said...

Hey Leifh. i just wanted to shoot you a few words of encouragement - if i may be so bold. i really have no idea who you are. i have no idea why you are doing what you do. Most of all, i have no idea what you believe specifically about God. i can at least see that you believe in jesus, and that you want to understand how to model his love to others, which is so difficult to do with words. i thank you for trying. i'm about ready to give up on words altogether - so sick and tired of having to defend everything i think. i look at the way a few people write in this thread and it's as if they really believe their thinking is bullet proof, that what they believe about the bible is finally correct in every way. Humility is a hard thing to live. It means trusting in God to take care of the things we can't totally figure out, which, from my point of view, is just about everything. We all want so badly to be in control - control of ourselves, control of others, control of doctrine, control the world, control of life, and even control of God. In my experience, it can be deflating enough to deal with the issue of pride and control in my own life, but it can get even more brutal when other people try to do their best to control you too. It's kind of like adding insult to injury. i just wanted to let you know that you are not alone, which i'm sure you already knew. It just seemed like a good thing to do anyway.

BTW, if this question seems worth pondering, i would love to hear your response: does a full understanding of the truth of the bible lead to unity or does engaging unity as a foundational truth of the bible lead to a fuller understanding of God?

Forgive me if that seems strange. It just seemed appropriate to me in this context.

Leifh said...

Hello bl_nd m_c,

Yes, thanks for being bold and for your encouragement. I started off trying to reply to each and every challenge, but it would always get into the same bible ping-pong game, or come down to differing hermeneutics...I think I'll create a FAQ (Refer to #7, etc).

Thanks again though for your encouragment and thoughts --we are all def less in control than we'd like to think! (:

As to your question...hmmm, I'm not sure...all I can say is that I doubt we will ever all havea full understanding/united understanding of the bible --but we can definately start with humility about our opinions! That will go a long way towards unity.

In Christ's peace,

Anonymous said...

I've been reading all of these posts today, and would just like to say that
in Luke 7:50 Jesus says, "Thy faith hath
saved thee; go in peace." Then, in Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace are ye saved through faith..." To me, this says we cannot be saved void of faith, and yes, it is the gift of God! What grace he has given to us, through sending us his beloved Son, Jeus Christ...born of a virgin, conceived of the Holy Spirit,
died for our sins, resurrected the third day, and now sits at the right hand of God, always interceding for his children! What's to argue about that???

Anonymous said...

I just came across this interview ( yes via that other site :( ).
It was great to hear your humility, and your own doubts.
I've been on a spiritual journey all my life, but really in the past few years. Very recently I've had this feeling that somethings just aren't adding up for me.
Coincidentally at the same time I've come across McLaren's new book, and hence this site.
Thanks again for taking the time to make this interview possible, it really raised a lot of interesting points!