I know I said I was done writing about this, but I am finishing the book. I found McLaren's eschatology to confusing and saddening, so I am looking for someone to correct me here if I am mistaken in my understanding.
As I read through McLaren's chapter on eschatology,I found one concept curiously absent--resurrection. So, I did some digging, scouring the pages for any reference to resurrection or any discussion of it in the footnotes, and the best I came up with was a link to a deleted chapter called "Making Echatology Personal." McLaren says that the article was written in response to the question, "What happens to me when I die?"
Here is the article. Is this resurrection? Note especially the italicized portions on pages 12–14.
It seems to me that McLaren's "resurrection" is that the good deeds that we did are swallowed up into the memory of God, so that they live on, but our bad deeds are consumed by the judgment so that they are forgotten. Curiously, his descriptions of Jesus' resurrection are starting to look like that to me, too--the resurrection shouldn't be interpreted as a bodily resurrection, but as rememberance by Jesus' people. Jesus is "resurrected" in the sense that the church is his body and memory of him lives on.
If this is the role resurrection (especially Jesus' resurrection) plays in the new kind of Christianity, then I don't think it can be called Christianity in any meaningful sense. That saddens me.
I hope I am mistaken about this. If anyone can correct me, please do. I would appreciate it.
Sitting in my "drafts" folder is a 2500 word review of Brian McLaren's "gospel question." I get depressed just thinking about it. In fact, reviewing this book has been such a downer that I have decided to quit. I hate quitting projects, but I have to quit this one for the following reasons:
I am not finding the book to be helpful. McLaren's approach to life and faith are so different than my own that I struggle to find points of commonality. Also, his attitude toward people like me (conservative evangelicals, especially conservative evangelical pastors) has me constantly on the defensive.
I am not finding reviewing the book to be helpful. I hate being negative. I have tried to put a positive spin on my review of his book, but it's getting tougher. Sometimes negativity and criticism are good, even needed, but I am not really interested in continuing a project that draws out the worst in me. I dread reading the book because I know I will inevitably have to follow it up with a lengthy negative review.
I am not finding his book to be as influential as I thought it would be. I think McLaren's days of being a lightning rod are over. He's a gifted writer. He is a great thinker. He's visionary and he's not afraid of asking the hard questions. He's an influential leader in his circle. But I think his hostility to his critics has marginalized him and destroyed his credibility to the middle. He has lost his voice as a "third way" or as the middle; he's an extremist. It pains me to write that, but I think it's the case. His books will be devoured by his camp and burned by the opposition.
Anyway, I will finish the book and maybe write some parting words, but I'm done spending so much time on it.
He writes, "Beholding such monotony gives one a rotten sense of the infinite where hope for one last out comes to symbolize Kierkegaard’s notion of despair; wanting no longer to exist and not being able to do anything about it."