You have to love it when someone starts speaking about others using abstract titles when everyone knows who they are talking about. In this section of A New Kind of Christianity, Brian McLaren answers some accusations from two other well-known Christian writers – specifically Mark Driscoll and John MacArthur. To Driscoll, Jesus was a man’s man; and to MacArthur, Jesus came only to save people from hell and nothing else. McLaren contends, and I agree, that neither of these positions reflect the full body of who Jesus is, was and shall be.
But I have some issues with the image of Jesus that McLaren constructs as well. To McLaren, Jesus is only the pre-Resurrection Jesus. He makes no reference to Christ’s return or even Jesus’ victory over death. Although McLaren professes that his view of Jesus is more accurate according to the gospels, he fails to include the end of those gospels.
There are two popular Beatles cover bands that come through our area. One, 1964, is an exceptionally talented band who performs the pre-Rubber Soul portion of the Beatles’ catalog with energy, talent and flair. The other, Rain, does the same thing but then they continue to perform the rest of the Beatles’ catalog, all the way through Abby Road. Although both are excellent performers, only Rain tells the whole story. Both are faithful, but 1964 leaves you with the impression that the story ends when the Beatles stopped touring. Really, that was only the beginning.
The same thing is true of McLaren’s depiction of Jesus. I know the theology from which he projects this image. I’ve read it many times in the writings of Bart Ehrmann and John Dominic Crossan. Jesus’ resurrection is not meant literally, but rather that Jesus is resurrected through our continuance in His Way. The Church is Jesus’ body because he is no longer with us. He died, but we live on.
This is contrary to the statements of the apostles; it is contrary to the gospels. I would go so far as to say that there is no gospel without the resurrection.
Certainly, McLaren brings something to the discussion. In my sermons, I will often remind people that Jesus is our Savior, Master, and Model. While McLaren is content to see him as Model; MacArthur sees him as only Savior; and Driscoll seems content to see him as Master, in reality Jesus is all three. We cannot ignore the Model part because it is as much a part of who Jesus is as his role as Savior and Master; but we also cannot overplay any one aspect of His ministry. To do so is to detract from the rest of who He is.