A Reader Writes: I Think I Get It Now

A reader writes

Hello Mr McLaren.

My name is XXXX. I have been a Christian my whole life, raised a Baptist in a home of immigrants. I was born in Southern California and came of age in the days when CCM had horrible production values (LOL)

I was a Jesus freak in High School, graduating in ’83 and got into Christian Apologetics while listening to The Bible Answer Man and reading books like J.P. Moreland’s scaling the secular city. I was steeped in theological arguments over the security of the believer and eschatology, arguing the “ordo salutis” (Thanks Berkhoff) and all of this while not attending a University.

By the time the “emerging church” movement came around I was well versed in theological arrogance. I read all the intense critiques of you and was all in with them.

Politically, being the son of an anti communist father who emigrated from a communist country, I learned the ways of hating socialism and what I thought it represented, all the while not realizing just how much socialism was blended into so much American politics and life.

Then suddenly just by living life, my views started to change. One of my best friends and my Pastor at the time taught some paradigm shifting messages on worship that flipped a lot of switches in my head and over time turned me and my politics and theology upside down.

I won’t get into the details, but essentially, it moved me from a Christian that pretty much ignored the 3 years of ministry the bible records of Jesus life, and just rushed to the death and resurrection, which of course was a hamstrung gospel, to someone that realized it was not just mirroring the sacrifice of Jesus death, but the sacrificial living of Christ towards others.

It gave me a context to understand what the emergent church really was about.
It prioritized serving people over extreme theological correctness. Building community in terms of being servants to the whole community.

It is just a tiny part of the story summed up lighting fast, but all this is just to say sorry for letting fabricated intellectual insistence cloud my understanding of what you were learning and teaching, and thank you for maintaining a gracious attitude for some of us that don’t get it yet.

I think I get it now. I am following you on Facebook and reading what you share with great interest.

God bless you brother!

Thanks for this kind and encouraging note. So many people seem absolutely unwilling to rethink anything, and your letter reminded me of two important things.

First, people still change, including conservative Christians!

Second, I am one of those people who changed! I realized as I read your email that I could have written similar letters when I started rethinking things in my twenties and thirties. Like many of my critics today, I had never even read some of the people I criticized; I was just parroting what I had heard respected preachers say. (Now I wonder if those respected preachers had even read the works they criticized — Maybe they were just parroting something they heard someone else say!)

At any rate, thanks for these kind words. We live in a time when so many people have turned faith into beliefs, and beliefs into “make believe,” a permission slip to live in denial about dangerous realities and create conspiracy theories to help themselves feel innocent and even heroic. Your note encouraged me, and I thank you sincerely.