Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Brian McLaren's Symposium in Ottawa, Canada (part 2 of 2)

In the second day, Brian McLaren went on to make more direct comments about what church and Kingdom have to do with the historical changes he mentioned the day before. He went on to give examples as to how Christians may 'cross boundaries' in acceptance and even embrace of other practices. He showed 4 quadrants with Evangelical / Liturgical / Social / Charismatic labels, hinting that one person may embrace practices from all quadrants. Brian suggested that the church needs to conceive their gatherings as a means for stimulating 'exercises' among believers so as to enable them to do God's will in today's world. These 'exercises' are 'practices' and rituals that may be performed during the gatherings and throughout the daily activities of the person. He mentioned 1. Inconvenience (from what I understood, he meant 'pushing people to the limit, beyond their comfort zones), 2. Association (If I remember it he meant helping people create associations with other people. I can't quite remember, but I don't think he meant here to use associations as icons that link ideas in the worship.) 3. Speed (I can't remember what he meant by that), 4. Hospitality, 5. Public prayer, and 6. Attentiveness.
I had the opportunity of asking a few more questions the second day. The first question began quoting Jesus when he said "My kingdom is not of this world." (John 18:36) to Pilate. The question was pretty much "Is it the message of the gospel delivered in its entirety if I go on doing 'only' good social acts? " Brian went on to explain how Jesus meant that his kingdom did not agree with the worldviews and values of the Romans. When trying to address more directly the question, Brian (quickly) said that he makes no distinction between the 'spiritual' component of the message and its 'social' component.
The second question related to "us versus them". That is, the apparent distinction in the Bible between believers and non-believers. I and my friend could not understand Brian's answer. He kind of hinted that ecumenism is beautiful, but that was it.
I didn't have to ask question 4. It was apparent by his comments that Brian MacLaren sees that a place to worship on a regular basis is important (perhaps not 'important' but necessary?)
Brian's view on eccumenism goes more or less like this: if he can bring anyone closer to Jesus that's a good thing. I agree with that. I know I may be labeled as a dualist, but my problem is that I still see Jesus as 'the only way'. And no matter how metaphorically or phylosophically the person may interpret 'Jesus' and 'only way', there's still some notion of exclusiveness and distinction. Dialog is good, respect for the other is good, learning from the other is good, networking with the other is good, not imposing my ideas on the other is good, helping and loving the other is good. But you see, it's still the other. I appreciate where Brian is coming from: he's in a country full of bad Fundamentalists. We are in an age that many people say bad things about other people's theology. The other side of the coin is that people are even reluctant at times to identify differences. I think his view on ecumenism still compromises the gospel a great deal. I may change my position in the future... But no problemo, many of his ideas are great.
Brian MacLaren at one point (after commenting about the modern ideas) drew a diagram of the modern worldview of the individual in relation to the church and 'the universe'. It was a diagram where the self was the centre. He then presented an alternative, where the 'universe' is just there, and 'things flow' from the individual to church/world/universe. He went on to comment on how people really look at their needs first very often. One example is people that say 'I had to leave church (fill the blanks here), because I wasn't being fed there". It's so true, and a really sad reality.
Gustavo's first insight: it is ok to be a Baptist and morph that way. Even though I don't quite agree on his view on ecumenism, I appreciate Brian's respect for 'the other'. Brian even complimented good things in the seeker movement twice (with disclaimers, of course). So, inheriting the Scriptural zeal can be a very good thing, but Gustavo thinks Baptists still have a long way to go.
Gustavo's second insight: associate and network with fellow Baptists (BCOQ from Toronto more specifically). Support and identify new local leadership that will carry forward new ideas and initiatives.
Kind regards ! / Aquele abraço !

Gustavo Frederico

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