Brian M at the end of the Week

“I am not questioning Scripture, Jesus, or his teaching. I am questioning the conventional understanding of them”

Brian McLaren on hell, the Bible, and his new book on Monday’s grueling heresy trial chat called ” The Blog Post of Brian McLaren


The highlight of the discussion was, in response to a question from David, when Brian speaks clearly and gives the skinny on what he believes . .

Brian McLaren says . . .

“Back to David’s question …

Let me paraphrase it.

The conventional idea of Hell is unpopular in our culture. If I’m questioning the conventional idea of Hell, does that mean I’m accommodating to our culture, watering down the gospel, etc? Even if I’m not, am I not in danger of doing so?

(Let me know if I’ve missed the meaning of the question.)

First a couple of provisos:

1. I am not questioning Scripture, Jesus, or his teaching. I am questioning the conventional understanding of them … this is an important distinction.

2. I am being very Protestant and Evangelical in this … I am going back to Scripture to test what I’ve been taught.

3. I didn’t begin questioning the conventional understanding of Hell in order to be hip, conformist to culture, etc. I began questioning because I more deeply engaged with Scripture and felt that my conventional understanding flattened and oversimplified some of the richness of Scripture and created logical and spiritual problems for me and others.

Now to your specific question … I am calling people to follow Jesus. That means calling them to repentance, sacrifice, faith, service, worship, reconciliation, character formation, spiritual transformation, commitment to the poor, willingness to suffer, courage to be misunderstood and persecuted, prayer, obedience, humility, confidence, and love for enemies. These things are not terribly in vogue in our culture.

By the way, conformity to a Christian subculture is also an issue. It was hard for abolitionists to question the conventional doctrines regarding slavery and race … sometimes we must be as concerned about conformity to the religious subculture as we are the secular culture. Many of us are more afraid of breaking step with the former than the latter.

But at the end of the day – we all stand in danger of conforming to this world. Which is why we must seek to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, having given ourselves as living sacrifices to Christ.

Does that help clarify?”


Do the fundamentalists still think Brian is a heretic?


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.

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