Monday, April 26, 2010

The Matthew 25 Network v Matthew 25

I was reading through Matthew 25 yesterday during the gathering of our fellowship and I was reminded of the social gospel/political activism "ministry" called "The matthew 25 Network" which was pioneered by Brian McLaren. The Matthew 25 network came to my attention in September of 2008 with my post The Lie Of The Social Gospel. Brian McLaren used the money of donors to fund political advertisements in support of radical pro-abortionist Barack Obama. The hypocrisy of McLaren is staggering enough considering his years of pontificating against conservative Christians for their political involvement. But as I read through the 25th chapter of Matthew's Gospel, I was staggered between how far removed it was from the agenda outlined on the Matthew 25 Network mission statement:

We are a community of Christians from diverse paths gathering in response to the words and acts of Christ. We humbly seek to love and care for all our neighbors.

Government policies and the election of our public officials reflect our core values. As citizens we recognize our responsibility to partake in and affect our national and global community through our government. We believe people of faith and good will should actively engage in the political process as advocates for social justice.

We engage the world as it is and hope for the world as it ought to be, working to strengthen families, to see the dignity in all, to conserve God’s creation, and to seek peace and justice at home and abroad – unabashedly advocating for the least of these.

The Matthew 25 Network identifies their main issues as health care, immigration reform, prison reform, "abortion reduction" (can you smell what that is code for), environmentalism, domestic poverty, rural investment, inner city investment, foreign aid, and civil rights. And what does this have to do with Matthew 25? Good question!

The first part of Matthew 25 (verses 1 to 13) is the parable of the ten virgins which warns us to be ready for Christ's second coming in any event. However, you will find nothing on the Matthew 25 Network about Christ's second coming. Perhaps this is because McLaren doesn't even believe in the "ten virgin" warning:

The phrase “the Second Coming of Christ” never actually appears in the Bible. Whether or not the doctrine to which the phrase refers deserves re-thinking, a popular abuse of it certainly needs to be named and rejected. If we believe that Jesus came in peace the first time, but that wasn’t his “real” and decisive coming - it was just a kind of warm-up for the real thing - then we leave the door open to envisioning a second coming that will be characterized by violence, killing, domination, and eternal torture. This vision reflects a diversion, a return to trust in the power of Pilate, not the unarmed truth that stood before Pilate, refusing to fight...

If we remain charmed by this kind of eschatology, we will be forced to see the nonviolence of the Jesus of the Gospels as a kind of strategic fake-out, like a feigned retreat in war, to be followed up by a crushing blow of so-called redemptive violence in the end. The gentle Jesus of the first coming becomes a kind of trick Jesus, a fake-me-out Messiah, to be replaced by the true jihadist Jesus of a violent second coming.

This is why I believe that many of our current eschatologies, intoxicated by dubious interpretations of John’s Apocalypse are not only ignorant and wrong, but dangerous and immoral.” (page 144, Everything Must Change).

Don't you just wish McLaren could be a little more succinct in articulating his denials of established Christian teaching? Anyway, the disconnect between the Matthew 25 Network and the Matthew 25 of Scripture doesn't end there.

Following on in Matthew 25 we come to the "parable of the talents" (verses 14 to 30)before closing with the terrifying account of God separating the sheep (true converts) from the goats (false converts) (verses 31 to 46). Both the parable of talents and God's separation of the sheep and the goats contain overwhelming warnings of eternal damnation. Again, the subject of hell is an absent subject on The Matthew 25 Network. The irony is staggering.

Surprise, surprise, Brian McLaren is not a big fan of the doctrine of hell . . .

The Matthew 25 Network should consider naming themselves after another chapter in the Bible like . . . actually I can't think of one that describes their agenda.


Matthias said...

Is this guy for real? Has he completely betrayed Christ? Even Moslems believe that Jesus will return in Judgement,so why is this bloke believing that he is original. As Peter said "for we do not follow any cunningly devised fables" and that included his witnesssing to Christ's Olivet Discourse.

glenn christopherson said...

If only God's people would read their Bibles and just a little church history, the Brian Mclaren's of this world and their so UNoriginal heresies would not get traction

Anonymous said...

Doesn't surprise me, There are people here in Germany (of course somewhat "emergent" types) who take the last part of Chapter 25 as meaning that what is important in the judgement is that you e.g. visit prisoners and feed people. The fact that Jesus did not mention "orthodox belief" even any belief in Him is taken as a token that these things play no role in that judgement.

It is somewhat "activism gospel" not just the old-style "social-gospel" but a more holistic approach combining social activism and consciousness and paradigm change.

The major problem however is that the text is so de-contextualized here (context even begins before the beginning of Chapter 25) which is more astonishing given the observation that emergent types so often speak of contextualising the gospel.