Continued Interview with Brian McLaren...

I've been horrible at keeping up with regularly posting Q&A excerpts from my now-months-old interview with Brian McLaren. But I shall press on!

"Brian, is ecclesiology, the way we're doing church usurping our First Love - Jesus Christ?"

Your question suggests, I think, a concern that some people are paying too much attention to ecclesiology and church pragmatics, and I certainly agree.

I think that a lot of us are tired of talking about the church so much, church techniques, church success strategies, how big are you, what's your growth rate, what's your budget, how many parking spaces do you have, blah, blah, blah.

There's a place for this kind of counting and technical idea sharing, no doubt, but as your question suggests, it can become almost idolatrous. And so can talk about candles or coffee or digital images, or whatever. I recently heard someone talk about the difference between saying "the church has a mission" and "the mission has a church" – I think that question points the issues up quite well. We might say, "The Trinity has a mission which has a church," and we'd be getting a healthy balance, putting God in the subject position. So of course there's a place for talking about the church, but as your question suggests, it can easily become preoccupying.

There are so many things that can distract us from our first love – and one of them is the church becoming preoccupied with itself. So this is a danger for everybody. That's why I'm so encouraged by the increasing emphasis I sense wherever I go on getting back to the deep practices of devotion to Christ, so that we keep Christ at the center of everything.

I share your concern when anything threatens the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ, and the essential importance of sincere devotion to him.

read more about my thoughts on Christianity in the real world at

The Passion of Mel Gibson...

I wasn't sure which blog to post this on. Here at Emerging or at my other blog, WorldSpeak, but since I just posted some thoughts on Lance Bass (who recently came out of the closet) I decided to spread the pop-mania wealth. Forgive me if it seems trite, but I expect there are some lessons to be learned in observing how the media and the church deal with Mel Gibson's recent arrest.

If you've been living under a rock, Gibson was pulled over Friday for speeding. A Breathalyzer test showed that his blood-alcohol content was 0.12. According to the deputy who arrested him (who happens to be Jewish), Gibson launched into a profanity-laced tirade, hurling anti-Semitic and sexist statements at authorities. In particular, saying something to the effect of: "Jews are behind everything that's wrong in the world today."

So much for Jesus.

But I'm curious. After Gibson has so-recently been made Evangelical America's "Patron Saint" for the blockbuster film about Christ, how will the church react? How will Christians respond? Particularly protestant/evangelical Christians?

My hunch is that it will be easier for Christians to look the other way and avoid having to "claim him" as another fallen brother because, afterall, Gibson is Catholic... Nevermind how we embraced him when his film filled our pews.

No, we may have to claim Falwell and Robertson (and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker) but Gibson is Catholic. We've protested them since the 16th Century.

Of course, Falwell, Robertson and the Bakkers are all Baptist and I'm not Baptist. My conscience is clean.

But there's still that pesky notion of The Body of Christ...
(as in BODY, not

The hard thing for me to admit is that if I believe in this Body of Christ, then the Mel Gibsons and Tammy Fayes of the world are not just my annoying, embarrassing neighbors, but they are my brothers and sisters.

How can we handle such a dysfunctional family?

I guess that's what this blog, this "emerging culture" and this Christian life are all about.

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