Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Brian McLaren At Campbell University

Dr. Jonas introducing Brian McLaren.

Yesterday I went back to my Alma Mater Campbell University to hear Brian McLaren speak at Butler Chapel about Postmodernism and the Church. Here is the program from yesterday's events:

This was part of The Reavis Ministry Lectures which is part of the Ministers Continuing Education Program at Campbell. The first session was about the hurricanes of change within human history. Here are the slides that Brian used during the sessions---give or take a few minor differences:

Me in front of Butler Chapel.

Brian basically discussed how the changes of history effect the way that we think about things and the world around us. He began with writing followed by the invention of the printing press and last the computer and how all of these inventions revolutionized the way that information is communicated and received. Another important theme touched upon was the militaristic language used in Christendom---for example see: Baptists Today Blogs: Warriors for Jesus?. Brian discussed finding a new way of thinking about faith in light of I Peter 3:15-16. Also of interest is how the word Gospel and Kingdom of God in Christian speak are subversions of their original meanings. In Greek εὐαγγέλιον(evangelion) originally meant the good news of the Βασιλεία (basilea) the kingdom or empire of Caesar and this was spread primarily by military conquest. For further research on this concept see: God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now.

I was hoping to get Brian to sign one of his books for me and meet him in person as he is one of my Facebook friends, but didn't get a chance. Unfortunately we missed the second session in the afternoon as well as yesterday was a joint purpose visit. We dropped my grandmother Helen off in Dunn on the way to Campbell and had to get back to help her sort through some more stuff she left at her old house. She just moved to Wilmington last Monday to be close to us. (I found two old family bibles while I was there---Helen's father's bible and my late grandfather Hank's mother's bible which was neat). However, I did get by to the new Convocation Center to see my late grandfather Hank's baseball Hall Of Fame plaque:

However for those of you wondering about the afternoon session---here is a Campbell Divinity student's impression of some of what was discussed during the second session:
During the afternoon session, McLaren talked about hell. He believes the doctrine of hell is antithetical to the cross. In other words, he does not believe in a literal hell. I would love to explore this thought further, but I have two exams next week, my friend Debra is coming to visit tomorrow, and I’m going to the U2 concert this weekend – no time to think about hell today! So for now, I will leave you with this bold prayer:

“Loving God, if I love thee for hope of heaven, then deny me heaven; if I love thee for fear of hell, then give me hell; but if I love thee for thyself alone, then give me thyself alone. Amen.” - Dr. Samuel Wells, Dean of Duke Chapel - 12/10/2006
Also Brian wrote on his Blog:
On hell - You're right that I don't follow the conventional teaching on hell as eternal conscious torment for all nonChristians. But that doesn't mean that I don't believe the Bible: it means that I don't believe many of us have rightly interpreted the Bible on this subject. If you're interested in exploring why I would say that, you might be interested in reading a book I wrote on the subject - The Last Word and the Word After That. And my upcoming book will actually go into this as well.
All in all, it was an interesting day and great to be back on campus at Campbell. And one final thought comes from Kevin Ritter's Blog:
Thanks Brian for recognizing a difference in us. I am excited about the future God has for us also. Keep up the good work CBF! God be with you on the Journey! Kevin
I'd also like to thank Brian for all that he shares and does for the Kingdom of God both here and not yet.

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