McLaren Advocates “Rethinking” Second Coming

From Stand to Reason blog:

At a recent youth ministry conference at Willow Creek Community Church, while discussing his latest book, Brian McLaren talked about the need to change our understanding of Jesus’ second coming because

Simply put, if we believe that God will ultimately enforce his will by forceful domination, and will eternally torture all who resist that domination, then torture and domination become not only permissible but in some way godly. . . . [And from the book:] This eschatological understanding of a violent second coming leads us to believe (as we’ve said before) that in the end, even God finds it impossible to fix the world apart from violence and coercion; no one should be surprised when those shaped by this theology behave accordingly.

First, this suggestion reflects a great misunderstanding of justice. Justice is not mere violence, coercion, and domination. The final judgment of all that we’ve done to hurt others is a desirable and good thing in a universe with a good, sovereign God. What kind of a God would He be if He simply ignored the evil that we do?

Second, it reflects a view of doctrine as something we create, not as an eternal reality we discover. McLaren is asking us to shape our doctrine according to pragmatic concerns so that we can create the type of world that seems best to us. However, if God is real, and He is good, and the Bible is His word, and that text has an intended meaning, the best possible result will come when we follow that word closely–shaping our ideas to it rather than it to our ideas. You’re moving into dangerous territory when you start to tinker with it according to what you think might work out better. God is far more likely to be right than we are!

Third, even if it were up to us to create the doctrine we think will work best in our world, McLaren is making a huge mistake here, as Russell Moore of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary explains in this article:

“The apostle Paul tells us not to avenge ourselves. Why? Because, he writes, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’ (Romans 12:18-20).

“As for domination, the Bible tells us not to dominate one another, precisely because ‘we will all stand before the judgment seat of God’ (Romans 12:10).”

Even though McLaren claims to want world peace, his own view is actually the one that leads to violence, Moore said.

“When a Christian understands that he does not fight for his own honor, but that justice will be done by God, either through union with Christ and His cross or at the judgment itself, the Christian is freed then to trust God, not his sword or his gun or his fists or his tongue,” he said. “It is McLaren’s vision of a life that consists only of the justice achieved in this era that leads to violence and Darwinian struggle to see that a pound of flesh is exacted.”

(Since I haven’t been able to find a place where I can listen to McLaren’s presentation, I’m basing this on the reporting in the article.  It’s possible it’s inaccurate, but it does seem to match what I’ve heard from McLaren in the past.)

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

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