I'm struck, again, by the - yes - generosity McLaren achieves here.
I wasn't a liberal the last time I read this book. One of the things I realize, re-reading it, is how fair-minded he leads the reader to be about divergent strains of Christianity. That fair-mindedness takes the sting of fear, reactionism, and division out of the reader's assessment of various Christian manifestations.
I think McLaren is really being honest when he has said he's not a "liberal," and not interested in making people liberals or anything else on the conservative-liberal spectrum. He's high-minded, and it's admirable. I used to want to be that non-committal. In some ways I still am, but in terms of liberal/conservative, there's too much skin in the game. A lot of that skin belongs to my closest friends.
What's clear to me now, however, is that when fear of "the other" - fear of "them" - is taken out of the equation, it becomes a lot easier to gravitate toward the direction of one's own conscience.
My conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one's conscience is neither safe nor sound.Of course, I need to be careful here because Luther's treatment of the Word of God is specifically Scripture. I can affirm the same words, but I see the cosmic person of Jesus Christ as "the Word of God."
Still, "acting against one's conscience is neither safe nor sound."
I guess that means my conscience is a liberal one. How did that happen? Where does conscience come from? I was raised in a very conservative household. I can't imagine that I was born this way. I used to be attracted to conservatism. That wasn't choice. But feeling liberal wasn't a deliberate "choice" either, even if the decisions I make about faith now are.
Well, however my hearted managed to swing left, I'm grateful to folks like Brian McLaren for making it less scary.