McLaren's "Everything Must Change" Tour
Last of a two part series in which pastor Jeffrey Whittaker recounts his experiences at one of emergent Church guru Brian McLaren's conferences.
CWM has learned that World Vision and Word Bookshops were behind a tour of Australia by McLaren. We called on our readers and those whom we could influence to boycott the tour and its promoters unless attendance was by way of protest. This is an attack in the name of “Christianity” upon Christianity itself. CWM is prayerfully considering what can be done to replace the influence of so called “Christian Bookshops” which are not Christian at all. One way is to support godly Christian Book and Resource suppliers such as CWM, by making them your first port of call to see if they stock what you are looking for.
As this session began, the gathering was again led in an opening song to set the mood for the discussion which would follow. The Hymn of Remorse went something like this:
We repent for covering your colourful earth with grey cement… for cutting down trees… for scarring your earth…. Lord, have mercy, can we be restored? What of the lands of tribes and nations who lived here first… the noise of traffic is drowning out the songbird's song… etc?
Syndicated columnist, Jonah Goldberg, in a recent piece found in the May 23rd edition of the South Bend Tribune, made this insightful observation.
At its core, environmentalism is a kind of nature worship. It's a holistic ideology, shot through with religious sentiment… Environmentalism's most renewable resources are fear, guilt and moral bullying.
When I read these words, I couldn't help but wonder if Mr. Goldberg hadn't been in the same conference audience with me in Goshen!
Brian began his presentation by sharing subtle yet needed “adjustments” to the confession of Peter in Matthew 16, telling us that “Christos” should be read as “Liberating King”, instead of the “old view” of Jesus as merely an “anointed (Greek: chrio) Saviour” from sin. Instead of Peter's insight coming as the direct result of a divine revelation from “My Father which is in Heaven”, as Jesus put it in verse 17, McLaren corrected this fallacious view, demonstrating rather, that Peter was utilizing existing terminology that was applied to Caesar:
Divine Augustus, Son of Apollo—Do you see what language Peter tapped into?
Once again the Word of God's divine quality was “deconstructed” in favour of a “cultural and historical contextualization” based upon the prevailing political milieu of the time. I knew that it was going to be a long day indeed. I mentioned earlier that I had been awakened very early on this Saturday morning with two distinct burdens on my heart and mind. The first issue of Thermodynamics and eschatology I have already dealt with. The other, homosexuality, had not yet presented itself… this however, was about to change.
During one of the regular “break outs” into small groups, I was paired with a very pleasant man in his fifties, who turned to me and said, “Hello, my name is Bill”. I discovered that Bill is a pastor in a major “high church” denomination, who wanted to discuss something that Brian had touched on in an earlier session. McLaren's remark that “homosexuals have been perfect scapegoats for the powerful throughout history…” seemed to be a burning issue that Bill wanted to discuss with me. He went on to tell me that he agreed with Brian that Bible passages usually quoted by “fundamentalists” on this subject were only meant for one particular audience and time in history. Therefore, since we no longer deal with those same issues in today's church, we therefore do not need to pay heed to the Scriptures which address them. He then made a non-specific and passing reference to “Romans 1” (as a generally accepted example of such an outdated text). For our purposes, I quote verses 18-27:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has showed it to them. Forthe invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up to vile affections: for even their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
After reading this aloud with Bill I simply said,
“Don't you believe that we still have people today who “worship and serve the creature more than the Creator?” Do you really think that there is no one in our world today that is of a “reprobate mind”?
He never answered that question, but instead went on to tell me how he had dealt with his current church when the issue of homosexuality had arisen. He told me that he confronted the church council with the charge that…
“You tolerated a previous pastor that was greedy and a gossip, but now you won't tolerate me”.
Pleadingly he said,
“Now I ask you Jeff, was that right?”
I looked directly into his searching eyes and replied,
“No Bill, it was not right. The church council should not have tolerated the previous pastor's greed and gossip anymore than they would any other sin.”
At that moment the sound of the gentle chime rang out over the top of the discussion, calling us back into general session. As I turned to say something else to my new friend Bill, I discovered that as I had reached for the Bible, he had reached for the door; moving to the other side of the auditorium. I sadly exited the auditorium, serenaded by the Chapel's sound system softly playing Bob Dylan singing, “The times they are a changin'”... Oh, how I wish they truly were.
“Guided Experience For Reflection Using Art"
During the afternoon session, the participants were encouraged to simply look at a collection of abstract paintings projected on the dimly lit chapel's viewing screens, while listening to instrumental jazz (composed in honour of Hurricane Katrina survivors). This exercise was meant to help us break out of our “Framing Story”, while simultaneously receiving an “epiphany” from the spirit within. The workshop leader urged the audience deeper through hushed, comforting tones:
Listen to your mind, body, and emotions. Think in a non-linear fashion, write down impressionistic stream of consciousness poetry without judging anything flowing through you.
Here is a sample of some quotes from the “Nude Truths” art presentation:
I am, we are, everything is! In this mystery we live.
And…Plucking truth from the vast , surrounding nowhere….
For the disciple of Jesus Christ and His Word, the question of our existence is answered in Acts 17:28 where Paul proclaims, “In Him we live, and move, and have our being.” And why should we have to “pluck truth” from anywhere except God's Word which our Lord declares “is Truth” in John 17:17?
The fruit of this exercise in introspective exploration and “stream of consciousness” writing can be seen in the poetry written by an anonymous young woman. Listen to the words of this poor wandering exile as she cries out for some sort of meaning and direction:
Child covers her eyes, eyes close them to soothe, soothe my broken heart, broken record of anger fight, fight self because the man, man won't get up, offa me, me hate--me fight--me angry, angry at raped mountains, mountains—can you believe it—raped, raped me I raped others, others haunt me with guilt, guilt a carcass shadow thick, a thick memory of tears, tears redden eyes, eyes closed, rest child
This tortured, Christless plea was typical of the offerings which were praised by the facilitator during the session on Saturday afternoon. For the biblical Christian, even though all pass through an individual “valley of the shadow of death”at times, ultimately knows that the Lord is with them, and that His conquest over sin, death and temporal suffering is the rock one can cling to and stand upon; even when hot tears stream down and questions fill one's mind. For the emergent pilgrim however, this life is only a cycle of evolutionary activism which holds out hope that somehow we can bring the world to true economic and political harmony, even if it takes millions of years. The Gospel of personal salvation, a coming day of reckoning, and a restored heavens and earth is still scoffed at as irrelevant and out of touch.
Saved or Depraved?
In light of the preceding observations, one can understand why the preponderance of Scripture quoted by McLaren comes from those places which deal with the ethical and humane treatment of one's fellow man, and those dealing with social justice and caring for the poor. These passages then are synthesized and represented, as prerequisites for salvation. On page 208 of Everything Must Change he writes,
The way of the kingdom of God calls people to a higher concern than self- or national interest: namely, concern for the common good. And for Jesus, achieving the bottom line of profit and financial success without concern for the common good qualifies one uniquely—not for the heaven of the Fortune 500—but for hell.
With no apologies to Martin Luther, John Calvin, or modern evangelicalism, Jesus (in Luke 16:19) does not prescribe hell to those who refuse to accept the message of justification by grace through faith, or to those who are predestined for perdition, or to those who don't express faith in a favoured atonement theory by accepting Jesus as their “personal Saviour.” Rather, hell—literal or figurative—is for the rich and comfortable who proceed on their way without concern for their poor neighbour day after day. As Jesus also makes clear in the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)….
Even more revealing statements which help us understand where McLaren is coming from on this vital issue are contained in an interview with Leif Hansen; the transcript of which is available at
Read and hear this disturbing exchange:
Hansen: They (traditional Christians) want to know that there's going to be some kind of, so to speak, hell to pay.Some sort of judgment. I think part of theproblem that you and I both react to is that an infinite amount of punishment for a finite being and a finite amount of sin, there's something that seems to question God's just and loving nature.
McLaren: Yes, it's very true. And I think that creates a rational problem. And is that rationally sensible? Would it be—Does it make sense for a good being to create creatures who will experience infinite torture, infinite time , infinite—you know, never be numbed in their consciousness? I mean, how would you even create a universe where that sort of thing could happen? It just sounds—it really raises some questions about the goodness of God. And that, to me, is the deepest issue. You know, John said in First John, “God is light and in God there is no darkness at all.” And I- what I have to believe is that very few of us actually believe that. We all have the suspicion that there is a dark side to God. And that God isn't truly, truly good. And I'm sure there's all kinds of psycho pathology in that and everything else for all of us. But I think this is, in large part, why, what is so wonderful and magnetic about Jesus, is that Jesus, I think, reveals to us a God who is all light and there is no darkness at all there.
(Author's note: Do you see here how the very fact that God is holy, just, and perfect is turned into an accusation against Him? Also, note that the problem is now with an unjust God instead of a sinful human race.)
Hansen: I see that, too, Brian. But I can't remember if I've mentioned this in the letter that I sent you. But there are some places where either I need that hermeneutic of love as I'm reading him (John). Or His editors screwed up what he said or something. But there are a few places. The one that always comes to my mind as an example is where he uses imagery that feels and sounds sort of violent and dark. And to me, sort of threatening. Even though it's a parable, the example would be the servants that get cut up into tiny pieces. I'm like, what the hell is with that Jesus? Why? If you want me to have a sense that you and that God can be trusted and ultimately care for me, I know it can hurt following you also. But why would you use an image like that?
(Author's note: Hansen's subtle turn of phrase does away with biblical inerrancy and Divine inspiration when making his scoffing reference to the apostle John's “editors screwing up”. Instead of bowing before God's Holy Word with humility and repentance, he, as well as the majority of emergent advocates, simply changes the rules.)
McLaren: Let's use that example. Can we talk about that for a couple of minutes? Because, first of all, wouldn't that be great for a biblical literalist to be as literal about that as they want to be about some of the other parables Jesus told. So that we have the picture now, not only are you in literal flame, but you are cut up into pieces. So there's however many pieces of you. I guess it's sort of a, yeah, it's a shish-kebab, exactly. So I think and we're laughing. These things shouldn't be laughed about. But, you know, I just think that's a great example of how we have this selective literalism that's just so stunning.
(Author's note: There's the scoffing again)
Later on in the interview we hear:
Hansen: But again, I don't mean to be a pain …. . But does the explosion come from God or does it come from God knowing how humanity, how we will reap what we sow?
McLaren: This is one of the huge problems in the traditionall understanding of hell. Because if the cross is in line with Jesus' teaching then—I won't say, the only, and I certainly won't say even the primary—but a primary meaning of the cross is that the kingdom of God doesn't come like the kingdoms of this world, by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes through suffering and willing, voluntary sacrifice. But in an ironic way, the doctrine of hell basically says, no, that's not really true. That in the end, God gets His way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination, just like every other kingdom does. The cross isn't the centre then. The cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God.
Hansen: Oh, Brian, that was just so beautifully said. I was tempted to get on my soap box there and you know—Because as you and I know there are so many illustrations and examples that you could give that show why the traditional view of hell completely falls in the face of—It's just antithetical to the cross. But the way you put it there, I love that. It's false advertising. And here, Jesus is saying, turn the other cheek. Love your enemy. Forgive seven times seventy. Return violence with selfsacrificial love. But if we believe the traditional view of hell, it's like, well, do that for a short amount of time. Because eventually, God's going to get them.
McLaren: Yeah. And I heard one wellknown Christian leader, who—I won't mention his name, just to protect his reputation. Cause some people would use this against him. But I heard him say it like this: The traditional understanding says that God asks of us something that God is incapable of Himself. God asks us to forgive people. But God is incapable of forgiving. God can't forgive unless He punishes somebody in place of the person He was going to forgive. God doesn't say things to you—Forgive your wife, and then go kick the dog to vent your anger. God asks you to actually forgive…. And there's a certain sense that, a common understanding of the atonement presents a God who is incapable of forgiving. Unless He kicks somebody else.
Here is the literal “crux” of the matter indeed! According to Ephesians 1:7:
In whom (Jesus Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace …
God “so loved the world” through Christ's substitutionary and sacrificial death on Calvary's Cross, because His Holy Character and Law could not co-exist with sin and rebellion. However, McLaren has now redefined the cross to be only an example of political non-violence and self sacrifice, instead of the legal and cosmic act of justification for the entire human race that it was. This is why for McLaren there indeed is a hell, but not for those who refuse God's gracious offer of personal salvation (a petty theological issue to be sure); but rather for the rich and comfortable who proceed on their way without concern for their poor neighbour day after day.
This entire line of reasoning is reminiscent of a geometry proof gone bad. If one begins with an incorrect statement, then the entire proof is corrupted and the conclusion will be skewed. For instance; if A = B (hell is not for those who reject Christ as Lord and Saviour but for those who do not work for social and economic justice), and if B = C; (those who do spend their lives in this most noble enterprise will be in heaven, not because of personal faith in Christ's finished work at Calvary, but by virtue of their humanistic compassion for their fellow man's struggle with injustice). Therefore (according the “transitory property” of geometric proofs) A = C (Heaven is for all who care for their fellow man's economic and political condition regardless of whether or not they profess faith in Christ, or are the member of any other particular religion or belief system (Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, etc.)!
I completely agree with the premise that we who claim a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus need to be regularly challenged to stay in the active ministry of giving of one's time and resources, showing compassion to those in need. I would even go so far as to say that to neglect this duty is to sin against God and man. However, this “new atonement” goes beyond this, and completely does away with a significant portion of the New Testament which deals with personal faith in Christ Jesus as being the only door of true salvation and relationship with a Holy God!
Humanitarian outreach has always been an integral part of genuine Christian missions for centuries. Schools, hospitals, and orphanages have been built all over the world in the name of Jesus Christ and His glorious Gospel. Why are we now expected to believe that these “emergents” are doing something never before done in the history of the church? How incredibly vain! What of Robert Raikes and his Sunday Schools for the poor children of London? What of General William Booth and the Salvation Army with its twin mottos of “blood and fire”, and “soap and salvation”? In fact, Catherine Booth, the General's dedicated partner in life and ministry proclaimed:
Many do not recognize the fact as they ought, that Satan has got men fast asleep in sin and that it is his great device to keep them so. He does not care what we do if he can do that. We may sing songs about the sweet by and by, preach sermons and say prayers until doomsday, and he will never concern himself about us, if we don't wake anybody up. But if we awake the sleeping sinner he will gnash on us with his teeth. This is our work—to wake people up.
What a fiery call to true compassionate Gospel ministry indeed! You will notice though, that McLaren (as well as most emergent authors) omits any honourable references to these historic examples of Christ-centred compassion ministries, while at the same time deriding the “irrelevance” of biblical and historical orthodoxy. Why? Because this argument has nothing to do with simply motivating Christians to compassionate service, but rather using social issues as a cover for deconstructing biblical Christianity!
As an example of this dynamic, let us examine one of McLaren's favourite theme passages of his tour. Matthew 25:31-46 specifically deals with the judgment of the sheep and the goats; which is meant to clearly demonstrate his “salvation through economic justice” argument. As I was meditating on this position though, I picked up my Bible (something I hadn't been encouraged to do at this conference) and began to re-read the entire chapter. Beginning with Brian's favourite section I read…
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them from one another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry, and fed you? or thirsty, and gave you drink? When did we see you a stranger, and took you in? or naked, and clothed you? Or when did we see you sick, or in prison, and came to you? And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it to me. Then shall he say to them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was hungry, and you gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and you did not take me in: naked, and you did not clothe me: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then shall they answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you? Then shall he answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into eternal life - Matthew 25:31-46.
I paused and then returned to the beginning of the 25th chapter where I found the parable of the talents, a topic I've never seen mentioned in any of McLaren's writings nor heard him teach on. Jesus makes these troubling remarks at the parable's conclusion:
Then he who had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew that you are a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed: And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth: look, there you have that is yours. 26 His lord answered and said to him, You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I have not scattered seed: You ought therefore to have put my money with the bankers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him who has not even what he has shall be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth – Matthew 25: 24-30.
According to these verses, it would appear that the small-minded, wicked and lazy servant was being judged for not applying the basic principles of market economics and a strong work ethic. What was the Lord's judgment in this case? Did He take the excessive profits of the servant with ten talents and lovingly redistribute his wealth to the unfortunate servant who buried his one talent in the ground (no doubt due to fear caused by years of abusive exploitation and colonialization)? Surprisingly, he instead took the one talent from the poor “have not” and gave it to the greedy, oppressive, capitalistic “have”! If a serious Bible student would read these successive passages in their proper context (a principle of hermeneutics that is rare if not absent from the emergent discussion), one would easily perceive that the Lord was building a comprehensive ethic of hard work and faithfulness coupled with genuine compassion for the unfortunate poor, sick, and oppressed. However, neither passage was ever meant to be taken in isolation, thereby being abused in order to create a doctrine of justification that is totally foreign to the comprehensive teachings of the New Testament! If one accepts the premise that all earnest and sincere humans will ultimately find their place in God's eternal Kingdom, the logical conclusion will be nothing short of humanistic universalism.
“We're All In The Same Boat"
Later that day, a young man rose and asked a question after Brian shared a “parable” involving people who occupied one boat, with one group drilling a hole in the hull out of despair; thereby dooming all on board. The young man asked,
“What is the difference between being in the same boat and being in the right boat with Jesus?”
Mc Laren flattered the youth , congratulating him for his insightful question, and then promptly jumped categories again by referring back to the earlier topic of irresponsible strip mining and how the world must be compared to the Titanic. Proceeding along on this deadend track of logic, he lamented that only a small minority was actually “helping organize the life boats” (obviously referring to the emergent village). He never answered the young man's question as to whether or not people needed to be brought to the “right boat” of Christ, nor did he address the urgency of getting as many souls into those life boats as possible. After all, once McClaren eliminated the doctrine of hell from the equation, along with any sense of urgency created by a future judgment, his “Titanic” that he calls the human existence on planet earth won't sink for millions of years… so what's the hurry? This position places “Captain McClaren” squarely on the bridge of the SS Emergent, congratulating himself on speeding at a record-setting pace across a sea of icebergs, secure in the delusion that his philosophic vessel is “unsinkable”. The truly ironic and tragic thing about this comparison is that, just as the prideful builders of the original Titanic deliberately failed to see the need of equipping their doomed ship with enough lifeboats, the SS Emergent is refusing to do the same thing.
McLaren's life boats are constructed of recycled aluminium cans and paper, “green” light bulbs, co-operatively grown coffees and a universalistic gospel, while still refusing to acknowledge that the entire ship has been prophetically doomed to sink! Remember that 2 Peter 3 refers back to the destruction of the young earth in the days of another “lifeboat”. Noah built the ark to the saving of his own house, while also extending a universal invitation to his generation for any who would have believed and got on board. Tragically there were only a few saved then, and if this generation follows scoffing leaders like McLaren, they too will succumb to either natural death followed by judgment (Hebrews 9:27), or to the flood of fire promised by the Holy Spirit through Peter's pen (2 Peter 3)! Some generation is going to have to pay the price and turn out the lights. What hope does the emergent church offer them?
One additional point of information… In August of 2009 while in Australia, I received an e-mail bulletin taken from Brian McLaren's website. In it he announced that he was going to be observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. McLaren stated:
Muslims observe Ramadan in the same basic way worldwide: they fast from food, water, sex, etc., from dawn to dusk. We Christians who are joining in the fast will share these four common commitments: We, as Christians, humbly seek to join Muslims in this observance of Ramadan as a God honouring ( Which god ? JLW )…Expression of peace, fellowship, and neighbourliness. Each of us will have at least one Muslim friend who will serve as our partner in the fast. These friends welcome us in the same spirit of peace, fellowship, and neighbourliness (He must not be observing with those Muslims who live near me in Dearborn, Michigan~JLW).
We will seek to avoid being disrespectful or unfaithful to our own faith tradition in our desire to be respectful to the faith tradition of our friends. For example, since the Bible teaches us the importance of fasting and being generous to the poor, we can participate as Christians in fidelity to the Bible as our Muslim friends do so in fidelity to the Qu'ran.
Among the core values of Ramadan are self control, expressing kindness, and resolving conflicts. For this reason, if we are criticized or misunderstood by Christians,Muslims, or others for this endeavour, we will avoid defending ourselves or engaging in arguments (Or evangelism for that matter~JLW) Instead, we will seek to explain ourselves humbly, simply, and briefly when necessary, connecting with empathy to the needs and feelings of others as we express our own.
Our main purpose for participating will be our own spiritual growth, health, learning, and maturity, but we also hope that our experience will inspire others to pray and work for peace and the common good, together with people of other faith traditions May God bless all people, and teach us to love God and love one another, and so fulfil our calling as human beings (I thought our calling as human beings was to repent and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to then take that life-giving message around the world!~JLW).
This statement does more to explain McLaren's spiritual universalism and humanistic social gospel than anything any polemicist could ever compose. We must make sure that we are in the “right boat” with Him who is “The Way, The Truth, and The Life”!
Reading Adult Books
After failing to answer the direct, honest question of the seeking youth in the earlier session, Mr. McLaren demonstrated more of his characteristic word play in a later gathering that was meant only to confuse what had been previously considered as obvious (i.e. “no man comes to the Father but by Me” John 14:6). When asked for concrete definitions and straightforward Scriptural answers, he simply turns the SS Emergent into a fog bank of allegory and symbolism. When speaking of figurative vs. literal interpretation of Scripture, Mr. McLaren didn't allow an opportunity for a good joke to escape as he stated, “Those who can't read adult books… shouldn't”. This was an allusion to Revelation 19:15 which he quoted:
out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should strike the nations:
The Captain then reached down and drew out a pen, as though it was a sword. He then mockingly placed it in his mouth and began to swish his head from side to side, scoffing at those (literalists) who should henceforth refrain from reading “adult books”. The audience how led in approving , condescending laughter once again. The only problem was that in characteristic fashion, he failed to finish the rest of the passage, thereby failing to bless his disciples with the “ correct emergent/apocalyptic interpretation”.
…and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together for the supper of the great God; That you may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet that worked miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh – Revelation 19: 15-21.
Why didn't our glib professor have any comments on these verses or those of chapter 20? Oh well, maybe in his next book.
As the conference was drawing to a close, Brian offered a few suggestions on how to begin the process of global transformation. One offering was that everyone be sure to vote only for “green candidates”, to champion endangered species, or to join an organization like the Sierra Club. Other strategic ideas were to “find a friend who is poor”, practise “everyday democracy” through fair trading (that's emergent language for buying from ecologically and politically correct businesses), or to “visit a place of extreme poverty as a learner and friend”. In light of these suggestions given by Mr. McClaren, please allow me (just one last time) to return to the passage that has served as the theme of this article. Notice if you will, that there is definitely an ethical mandate attached to the orthodox view of the end of the age, which calls every true Christian to action and not just words.
Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conduct and godliness, Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, where the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that you may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless - 2 Peter 3:11-14.
Far from encouraging the church to be a mindless clan of cloud watchers, this passage calls us to search our own ethics in light of the earth's demise and God's eventual judgment, while being diligent in our quest for peace and reconciliation as we pass our time of pilgrimage in this present age. Whether it be by leading someone to faith in Jesus Christ through deliberate evangelism, raising a family, teaching in a school, or even doing medical research to defeat cancer or AIDS; we must do all in the name of our Lord and Saviour, knowing that each human life is precious, and that each human life is short in the light of eternity!