“If we keep recruiting people to evacuate the earth, then every person who gets saved is, in some ways, taken out of the action. It’s like going to the bench of people who want to play in a football game and trying to recruit them to leave the (stadium)…” Brian McLaren
Rest assured, Brian McLaren isn’t suggesting dispensing with personal piety and devotion. Nor would he advise us to stop praying unceasingly, reading and reflecting on scripture, attending worship, engaging in Bible study, or personal acts of penitence. So what is, Brian McLaren, former church pastor, the guru of the Emerging Church movement, a leader from the progressive wing of evangelicalism, and acclaimed speaker and author, suggesting?
In the wake of the pandemic and during an interview held last year, McLaren, was asked, “What do you think is the biggest turn-off for young people…who don’t like the way the church is right now or the legacy of the church?” He responded that aside from many [white Evangelical] Christians becoming chaplains to right-wing extremist politics; is this tendency to define faith as an adherence to a certain set of [qualifying] beliefs…that may well be [completely out of] sync with the Gospels.
Imagine if faith meant focusing on acts of mercy and justice rather than being saved? For that matter, what if salvation as intended by the Gospels, doesn’t mean being jettisoned off the face of the earth? Instead, imagine if we perceived our world not as dispensable and without hope, but as beloved and redeemable in the sight of God? What then?
Prayer: Divine Maker, in the wake of so much terrifying news, be with us in our fear and trepidation. In your love, turn our eyes outward towards my neighbor, however near or far they may be. Teach us again and again that religion was never intended as merely a private, benign affair but one that requires each of us to look to the welfare of the other – who is as much your child as each of us is. We ask this in all the holy names of God. Amen.