If You Don't Believe in a God of Hate
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Fri May 05, 2006 at 02:25:35 PM EST
Brian McLaren continues to be an influential voice in the growing movement that is resisting the Christian Right's monopoly on what it means to be a follower of Jesus. McLaren is at his best when he challenges the authoritarian, judgmental and potentially violent tone that is too often present in the Christian Right.
One example of this is when he writes about the doctrine of hell. An excerpt from a recent interview published in Christianity Today's Out of Ur blog:

Brian, in your book, The Last Word and the Word After That, you focus heavily on "deconstructing" the evangelical view of hell. Some critics think your deconstruction has moved to the point of your embracing a "universalist" position. Are you a Universalist?

McLaren: No, I am not embracing a traditional universalist position, but I am trying to raise the question, When God created the universe, did he have two purposes in mind--one being to create some people who would forever enjoy blessing and mercy, and another to create a group who would forever suffer torment, torture, and punishment? What is our view of God? A God who plans torture? A God who has an essential, eternal quality of hatred? Is God love, or is God love and hate?

It might sound surprising to state it that way, but you'd be surprised at some of the emails I've received. For example, someone quoted Scriptures like Psalm 5:5 or Psalm 11:5 and said, "If you don't believe in a God of hate, you don't believe in the God of the Bible." Here's my concern: if you believe in a god of hate, violence, revenge, and torture, it makes you very susceptible to becoming a person made in that god's image.

This week a group of Southern Baptist leaders, inspired in part by McLaren's emergent church movement,  released a statement called, The Memphis Declaration. Although these leaders are very conservative in their Christian beliefs, it is a good sign that they are speaking out. They are not satisfied with the way the Southern Baptist Convention has been controlled and manipulated by the narrow and mean spirited political agenda of the Christian Right. Some excerpts:

We publicly declare before all Southern Baptists that we believe the unity, mission, and witness of our denomination is seriously threatened by the introduction of the narrowing of cooperation through exclusionary theological and political agendas that corrupt the healthy and mutual fellowship we enjoy as Kingdom servants. We believe that the parameters of Baptist cooperation in missions and evangelism must be consistent with our rich theological heritage, and that all attempts to impose excessively restrictive criteria on participation in Southern Baptist missionary work are counterproductive to the advance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. [ ]

  1. We publicly repent of triumphalism about Southern Baptist causes and narcissism about Southern Baptist ministries which have corrupted our integrity in assessing our denomination bureaucracy, our churches, and our personal witness in light of the sobering exhortations of Scripture. [ ]

  2. We publicly repent of an arrogant spirit that has infected our partnership with fellow Christians in the advance of the gospel of Jesus Christ, without the hearing of which men are incapable of conversion. [ ]

  3. We publicly repent of having condemned those without Christ before we have loved them, and that we have acted as judge of those for whom Christ died by failing to live with a redemptive spirit toward them. [ ]

We pledge, therefore, to one another that we will continue this dialogue by inviting others in our respective spheres of influence to participate with us by seeking to renew our commitment to denominational accountability, institutional openness, moral and ethical integrity, and properly prioritized Kingdom efforts.

blog discussing the Memphis Declaration is Twelve Witnesses.

by Carlos on Fri May 05, 2006 at 02:42:59 PM EST
Watch the informative video on the IRS complaint filed against Ohio's Patriot Pastors, from the PBS TV program NOW, via Bradblog, by clicking link below


Found on Fraudbuster Bob Blog


by Abbey on Sat May 06, 2006 at 07:29:07 PM EST

The Genesis of these beliefs is that Man was made in God's image.  Think about that statement.  Do you really believe that God needs arms, or legs to get around?  Do you believe that God needs a mouth to eat or speak?

Nature the only verifiable living book of God's instructions, states that all that is, has a purpose.

Therefore why does God need a body at all?  If God does not need a body then God does not have one.  So why does the christian Church state that man was created in God's image?  Think about it.

By teaching that Man was created in God's image then the Church may inflict upon God human Characteristics, such as love, hate, vengence, protection, the desire for power,. etc.  I know this must be a shock, but God is not human.  God does not desire power.  God is power.  God does not ask to be worshipped or loved  A father does not ask for his children to love him, only for his children to be capable of standing on their own two feet, to be understanding, respectful of life and preferably happy and successful.  God is the same, therefore God has provided Man with living
instructions that are to be found within Nature.

 Follow them and you will be rewarded and in doing so all of mankind will benefit.  Disobey them and you will be punished forwith.  Both rewards and punishment are administered immediately.  

What happens in an afterlife is unknown as it it meant to be that way. The belief that there is a Heaven or Hell was created for the purpose of control, pofit and power.  God has already administered reward to those whose acts warrant rewards and punishment to those who have committed act of Evil  This life is your heaven or hell.  

Man has the ability to make this life a heaven or hell, unfortunately man has for the most part chosen hell.  For the most part, man has rejected God in favor of technology.  Technology is only a tool, it will not give you peace, serenity, understanding or protection.  Only by following God's living book of instruction found within Nature will man be able to make this life heaven.  

The challenge is their, it is up to you.  

Unfortunately people who do not understand the Living Word of God will not recognise either the rewards or punishment even in their deathbed.  Basically the belief that Man was made in God's Image was to be able to inflict upon God, man's frailites so the church could control it parishners.  It was all for power, profits and control.  To understand the Living Word of God go to www.thechurchofthelivingwordofgod.net    Facilitator Peter

by Facilitator Peter on Sat May 06, 2006 at 01:25:59 PM EST

You said: "What happens in an afterlife is unknown as it it meant to be that way."
It is unknown if you wish to believe that it is unknown and that it cannot be known by those of us still in physical form.

I encourage you to be daring enough to step outside the comfortable box of your current beliefs and read the hundreds of books and articles about the afterlife.  Visit a Spiritualist Church.  Learn to alter your state of consciousness so that you may meet your guides in the spirit world.  I have done these things, and they have only contributed to my spiritual growth, helping me to love more deeply and to feel greater peace within.

"Image" does not mean "physical body."  It means Divine Consciousness.  Consciousness precedes its expression in form -- in our case, human form (physical, emotional, mental, and ethereal bodies).  In physical terms, we are Divine Consciousness expressing as electromagnetic units of consciousness.  Matter is not solid, as any physicist will tell you.  Thus, as the Hindus say, "I AM THAT."  There is no separation between the Divine and humankind; there is only the illusion of separation.  We are always ONE.  Spiritual growth is the process of remembering, recognizing, realizing our Oneness.

Yes, Nature is a definite guide.  Natural Law is the expression of Divine Order.  However, one can also make contact with God/Goddess/All That Is (or whatever name you wish to give That Which Cannot Be Named) through meditation (altering one's state of consciousness) and prayer, as I do every day.

We all have different paths of spiritual growth.  I support you in your path, Peter, and send out thoughts of love to you on your journey.

Wishing you Love and Peace --

Gordon Ross

by gfross on Sun May 07, 2006 at 08:03:00 AM EST

As a signatory of this statement, I need to ask you some things Carlos, because you wrote:

This week a group of Southern Baptist leaders, inspired in part by McLaren's emergent church movement,  released a statement called, The Memphis Declaration. Although these leaders are very conservative in their Christian beliefs, it is a good sign that they are speaking out. They are not satisfied with the way the Southern Baptist Convention has been controlled and manipulated by the narrow and mean spirited political agenda of the Christian Right.

A. What statements have been issued that state that they were inspired by McLaren's movement?  None.  What then is the source of this attribution?

B. Some Emergent Church folks were there, all of which have a theology and epistemology that is exactly the opposite of Brian McLaren.  It is rather difficult to see, then, how he has influenced them.  If that is the source of this observation, then I feel compelled to point out that this is about as logical a conclusion as saying, "There were Arminian Baptists there, and they were influenced by John Wesley's political views," or "There were Reformed Baptist there, and they were influenced by Abraham Kuyper's political views."

C. The tendency to which we (as I am one of the signatories) were objecting is the one to exclude others of like theological mind who disagree with the political agenda of the SBC leadership and the way it is now running the SBC, because it is derivative of the high church ecclesiology of the Landmark Baptists in an increasing fashion, not "the Christian right" and its political agenda for the US.  That is a completely different issue.  The "political agenda" to which they spoke has to do with personal agendas they and we the signatories believe exist within certain groups and their leaders within the Convention and its agencies.  For example, agendas to remove denominational executives with whom they disagree about non-essential theological issues or issues extraneous to the current iteration of the Baptist Faith and Message, like the distribution of spiritual gifts, Calvinism-Arminianism, etc.

D.  This document is in no way a repudiation of the conservative resurgence in the SBC.  In fact, all of us agree with the BFM 2000, and some of us use less forgiving confessions like the London Baptist Confession of 1646 and 1689, not just the new BFM.  It is a call to recover the material, not just the formal principle of the Reformation.  A little Reformation history might be informative for you on what that means to flesh out this statement.

D. The document is directed inward, toward ourselves, not to the SBC or its leadership or "the Christian Right" to which this website speaks.  As for our politics, we are all over the map as a group, ranging from Republican to Democrat to members of third parties to independent voters.  

by genembridges on Sat May 06, 2006 at 02:17:52 PM EST

Thanks genembridges for giving your detailed insider perspective on this. Perhaps I did exaggerate the Declaration's critique of the Christian Right and its connection to Brian McLaren. I read the Memphis Declaration as a statement against authoritarianism and arrogance and it reminded me of at least the tone of the material I have read of McLaren and other "emergent" leaders. I was hoping the Declaration was also a subtle way for some SBC leaders to critique the SBC's too cozy relationship with the Republican party and with the Christian Right as practiced by people like Dobson, Falwell, Perkins, Bauer, etc.

by Carlos on Sun May 07, 2006 at 04:05:36 PM EST

First, I always enjoy reading your posts.  I'm a McLaren fan and these 18 men (and two women) who signed the "Memphis Declaration" are merely SBC Fundamentalists who are angry with Paige Patterson and the so-called "Inerrancy Coalition."  These signatories affirm the tactics of the "Conservative Resurrgence."  They affirm the despicable Baptist Faith & Message of 2000.  Power hungry describes this group well.  

BTW:  Gene Bridges did NOT sign the Memphis Declaration...

by Big Daddy Weave on Mon May 08, 2006 at 03:03:41 AM EST

Big Daddy Weave, if you will take a look here:http://twelvewitnesses.blogspot.com/2006/05/memphis-3-memphis-declaration-update.html

You will find that I most certainly have signed the Memphis Declaration.  For the record, I signed off the day it was released to the public.  You can contact Art Rogers to confirm this.  His email is on his website.

Here is the official list of signatories:

* - attended part of the meeting but was not there when the Declaration was finalized and wishes to add their name as a member of the Memphis Summit

** - did not attend the meeting, but wishes to add their name to ours in support of the document

Steven P. Hardy, NC
Ginny Brant, SC
Pamela Walker Blume, NC
Ken McLemore, VA
Ben Carr, OK
Martin S. Duren, GA
Arthur T. Rogers, KY
Benjamin S. Cole, TX
Thomas Ascol, FL
Jason Helmbacher, OK
Alden Stephens, FL
Wiley Drake, CA
Jason Sampler, LA
C.B. Scott, AL
Roy Hargrave, FL
Wade Burleson, OK
Wyman Dobbs, West Africa
Rick Thompson, OK
Phil Newton, TN

*David Wooten, FL

**David Rogers, Madrid, Spain
**Paul Burleson, OK
**Gene M. Bridges, NC
**Dorcas L. Hawker, TX
**Timothy A. Sweatman, KY
**Micah Fries, MO
**Ron West, AR & Taiwan
**Dennis R Collins, NC
**Glyn Roberts, VA
**Kevin Bussey, NC
**David Goggin, NC
**James Hunt, OK
**Ron Mackey, MO
**Sonya Duren, GA
**Bonnie Rogers, KY
**Perry McCall, MS
**Darren Casper, MO
**David J. Sanders, AR
**W. David Phillips, DE
**Jon Thompson, TX
**Billy Belk, NC
**Franklin W. Seay
**Kelly Reed, IL
**Vicki Reed, IL
**J. Russell Reeves, NC
**J.R. Mathews, TX
**Mark Tesreau, TN
**Rick Garrett, GA
**Christie R. Garrett, GA
**Dennis R. Collins, NC
**David Montoya, TX
**Jason Britt, GA
**Ryan Hale, GA
**Michael Harrison, VA
**Jason Shepherd, OK
**Joel Rainey, MD
**Garet Robinson, GA

In addition, recent written work was used and is being used as a reference work "A Condensced History of Landmarkism in the Southern Baptist Convention with Reference to Baptism and the International Mission Board in the Present Day."

Mr. Weave, you simply do not have your facts right.  

Nobody among this group disagrees with BFM 2000.  What is "despicable" about it?  Is it the part on the Family? That encapulates Colossians 3:17-18, and Ephesians 5 and 6.  Is it the part about the ordination of women?  That is upheld by the early Baptist confessions as well as the Philadelphia Confession under which the SBC was founded.  Is it article one on Scripture?  If so, then don't your words prove that those on your side of the aisle disaffirm the inerrancy of Scripture.  Such a view has more in common with C.H. Toy than James A. Boyce does it not?

No, we were not "disgruntled" at all.  We recognize that it is time to arrest the revolution lest it turn more into the French Revolution than the American Revolution in tenor and effect, but that can only begin with us at the local church level.  Such a changed cannot be legislated successfully from the time top down.

None of us is "power hungry." How can one be "power hungry" when holding to a view of reformation that begins at the local church level, not the board, association, or convention level?  Which of us desires political office in the Convention?  On the contrary, we signed it knowing we would be labeled unpopular and attacked from both sides.  We did this, because it is the right thing to do.  The Declaration is focused inward, not outward to others.

by genembridges on Tue May 09, 2006 at 05:09:33 PM EST

Carlos and Big Daddy,

The influence of McLaren is the general influence he has had on all religious culture here in America.  I think Gene is accurate in saying that none in the room in Memphis would be avid followers.

We are not "Fundamentalists."  We are, unapologetically, conservatives.  The Memphis Declaration is about us repenting from certain treatments of people who do not hold our views.  You, Big Daddy, would be included in our sympathies - not in your beliefs, since we are evidently different - but in our concern for you as a person.

In the statement and in the interviews surrounding the statement that we made clear that we are not seeking power.  You can find numerous references to this on my website, 12 Witnesses.  This is one of the two host sites for the Memphis Declaration.  The other is SBC Outpost.

BTW:  Gene Bridges did sign the Memphis Declaration.  You can find his name listed on my website under the declaration.  He was not in Memphis as a crafter of the document.  I can assure you, though, Gene Bridges is a vital influence on many in the room.  I say this as both a crafter and an original signatory of the Memphis Declaration.

Finally, Paige Patterson was not the focus of this document.  We were.  Read it.  We made it an inward pointing document = toward ourselves.  We spoke for no one else and pointed to no one else.

If we were organizing against Paige, or anyone else, it would not have been a publicized meeting, we would have made some concrete plans of "attack," and we most certainly would not have published a document.  We did none of these.

We do feel that the authority of the Bible was in doubt among our convention at the time of the resurgence, and we do feel something had to be done.  We do regret, though, that many of the "tactics" - your word - were hurtful and meanspirited.  To say that we "affirm" them, is confusing, at best, and misleading at worst.

by art rogers on Tue May 09, 2006 at 05:10:25 PM EST

Mr. Bridges,

I based my statement (regarding you) on the Baptist Press article.  You were not listed.  If you have since signed the document - I apologize.  

I have responded to both yours and Mr. Rogers post at my own personal blog.  Thanks.


Big Daddy Weave

by Big Daddy Weave on Wed May 10, 2006 at 01:08:17 AM EST

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